Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 26
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
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If It's Summer, It Must Mean Detours as Township Gears Up for Road Projects

Matthew Hersh

The last four years have seen an aggressive campaign from Township Hall to improve its plus-100 miles of municipal roads, and 2007 appears to be no different as the municipal Engineering Department recently outlined plans for its $3 million road improvement project.

This season's project pales in comparison with 2005's $8 million project, but the plan nonetheless represents a vast improvement for Township roads, as the municipality looks to either reconstruct or repave 7.7 miles of roadway this summer.

"We're closing in on getting all of the roads maintained and repaired, and at that point, we can start looking at improving them again," quipped Robert Kiser, the municipal engineer, who has overseen more than 63 miles of roadway improved in the last 15 years. The Township, however, in only the last four years, has increased its repair output, handling about 25 miles of roadway since 2003.

"We want to get to the point that every 20 years or so, we can do repairs or do resurfacing of roads," Mr. Kiser said, adding that blacktop typically lasts 15 or 20 years, and that the Township has been playing "catch-up" in dealing with neglected throughways, many of which have been untouched since the 1960s.

A particular challenge is in the Township's Riverside district, which both contractors and in-house Public Works crews have spent the last two summers trying to remedy. Hemlock Circle, Phillip Drive, and Woodside Lane are all on the 2007 list for repair in a half-million dollar project that was approved by Township Committee in February. That project, which is expected to go out for bid in the next few weeks, Mr. Kiser said, will likely not be complete until the spring, after work is halted for the winter months. Part of that job, although through separate funding, includes a $92,500 sidewalks project along portions of those roads, with half of that cost financed by the Township, and the balance assessed to the property owners.

"This is the last leg of an area we've been working on for the past few seasons," said Don Hansen, superintendent of the Township's Department of Public Works. "That area is going to be done, and we think it's transformed those neighborhoods." The final three roads — Hemlock, Phillip, and Woodside — were carried over from last year because of significant sewer work that needed to be done.

Another ongoing project in the northern end of the Township near the Montgomery Township border is a connector road for Route 206 and Cherry Valley Road that was designed to take some of the traffic burden off nearby Hillside Avenue, where cars were avoiding the Cherry Valley/Route 206/Princeton Avenue intersection by cutting through on Hillside. That project's cost of $350,000 was offset by a $150,000 DOT grant.

Also under contract for construction, a portion of Mountain Avenue between Quarry Lane and the Great Road will likely cause some additional traffic complications this summer, with that portion of the road being closed nearly every weekday to enable the carrying out of the $875,000 project, offset by a $200,000 DOT grant.

The Township's $350,000 in-house resurfacing project includes work on Hutchinson Drive, Balcort Drive, Dogwood Hill, Turner Court, Pardoe Road, Haslet Avenue, and along the Linwood Circle/Leabrook Lane area. A $1 million resurfacing project, set to be put out for bid this summer, includes work on the Township portion of Witherspoon Street, Herrontown Circle, Audubon Lane, Clover Lane and Deer Path, Maclean Circle, and Marion Road East and West.

Other projects include a $50,000 Ewing Street improvement, a $50,000 project along Hilltop Drive, Woodland Drive, and Mansgrove Drive, a $75,000 Davies Drive pedestrian walk, and a $340,000 crosswalk project at the D&R Canal crossings at Alexander Street and Harrison Street. Those costs, however, have been completely offset by funding from Princeton University.

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