Two weeks after announcing that the New Jersey Department of Transportation had appropriated $100,000 to fund an independent study of the Route 206 corridor from Nassau Street to Cherry Valley Road, a preliminary brainstorming session Monday night offered possibilities aplenty, but left many questions unanswered.
That was by design, according to Princeton Township Committeeman Bill Hearon, who encouraged the standing-room-only crowd to "erase" all potential solutions offered during the one-and-a-half-hour presentation and move forward with an open mind.
Residents living along the corridor have long expressed concern about the speeding drivers, accidents, and heavy volume of truck traffic. In 2004, a group of residents, calling themselves "Citizens for a Safer Route 206" began working with Mr. Hearon on a project that resulted in the grant that will fund a study using context-sensitive design (CSD), a collaborative method approach to transportation problems.
Princeton Future, a community-based organization that examines in-town development, conducted a similar study last year on the Witherspoon Street Corridor. Rather than approach residents with specific changes, the group dealt with ways to manage problems raised by residents in a series of meetings.
The two groups conducting the Route 206 study -- the Orlando-based Glatting Jackson, and the Philadelphia-based Urban Engineers -- will host resident consultations in the Township Hall Community Room today, November 30, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and tomorrow, December 1, from 9 a.m. to noon. Appointments must be made in advance by calling (609) 921-7077.
Dubbed the "Montreal to Mobile Expressway" by frustrated residents along the corridor, Route 206 has increasingly become a cut-through for truck traffic from I-287 enroute to I-95, causing residents to worry about pedestrian mobility, safety, and noise on the stretch running through Princeton. Ian Lockwood, a consultant with Glatting Jackson, said that while many of the problems associated with Route 206 are regional, some can be addressed locally by using standard traffic-calming methods such as increased tree plantings, an increased road network that does not funnel all cars to one dominant roadway, and by creating roundabouts -- smaller in scale than the common traffic circle -- like the one Princeton University installed on Faculty Road to ease problems caused by the mixture of through traffic and cars entering and exiting the University's parking hub on that part of campus.
Mr. Lockwood's firm is currently planning a roundabout for the intersection of Routes 518 and 29 in Lambertville, a historically difficult intersection.
By January, Mr. Lockwood said, the information gathered from the residents will be used to devise a "master plan" for Route 206 street design. "We've literally engineered our environments to be so car dependent," he said, addressing concerns that 206 would one day be a four-lane highway by adding: "a city or a town is a lot better off with two-lane roads with turn lanes rather than a few four-lane roads."
Mr. Lockwood also encouraged the idea of developers putting up buildings that face the street, rather than internalizing a development.
Addressing Mr. Lockwood's suggestion that more small roads might make the difference, Peter Madison, a member of the Regional Planning Board, said that "a lot of potential resistance" could result if more roads were proposed. Mr. Lockwood said that a policy of creating an enhanced network of roads would normally apply to new development and not impact existing infrastructure. "We don't normally open cul-de-sacs," he said.
Mr. Lockwood added that reducing truck traffic could be implemented through municipal policy.
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