Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 46
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
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Smoother Walking a Step Away? Borough Votes for Pedestrian Safety

Matthew Hersh

Borough Council last week passed two resolutions concerning on pedestrian safety at key intersections throughout the Borough and agreeing to focus its capital improvement planning process on those areas.

The resolutions, outlined at a special Wednesday Council hearing, were passed following a review of the Princeton Borough Crosswalk Improvement Plan commissioned by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and conducted by the infrastructure consulting firm PB Americas.

The 40-page report, completed in May, points to heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the Borough particularly along Nassau Street, Witherspoon Street, and the Paul Robeson Place/Wiggins Street/Hamilton Avenue Corridor. There have been 85 pedestrian-vehicle accidents in the Borough since 2001, according to the report.

Various methods, like an all-red traffic signal phase at the Witherspoon-Nassau street intersection, a pedestrian refuge island at Mercer Street, and curb ramp deficiencies were discussed. The goal, according to PB Americas consultant Pam Lebeaux, was to conceive a design standard for Borough pedestrian infrastructure.

“The aim is to make all of the Borough truly walkable,” she said.

The report urged the Borough to implement municipal-wide improvement measures, such as standardized crosswalk and curb ramp designs; the installation of missing curb ramps; buffering crosswalks with no-parking zones; the installation of pedestrian-lit crosswalks; careful bus stop placement; keeping major walkways passable during construction; and to embark on an educational campaign that would enforce strategies to promote pedestrian safety.

Priority locations included crosswalks at Bayard Lane and Stockton Street, the stretch along Bayard Lane between Hodge Road and the Township border, and the Nassau Street and Mercer Street intersection. In reference to the Bayard Lane/Stockton Street/Nassau Street intersection, the report describes a “serious obstacle to pedestrian mobility in the Borough,” potentially discouraging residents to maneuver on foot in that location.

However, Councilman David Goldfarb said that Council should be “very careful” in endorsing all of the report’s recommendations. “We need to make sure these are real improvements to the overall scheme.”

Sandy Solomon, the chair of the Traffic and Transportation Committee, agreed, but said that the Borough, by including the report’s goals into the municipal capital improvement planning process was a guide rather than a “necessity.”

Ms. Solomon said that rather than viewing the reports objectives in the long- or short-term, the Borough, particularly concerning Bayard Lane, might be compelled to work with the state, using the Route 206 Vision Plan, conducted in 2005 by DOT. “I think that would work perfectly for the Borough,” she said.

The first resolution passed by Council focused on Borough-run streets, with the second resolution addressing state-run roads within the Borough’s boundaries.

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