Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 41
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
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Master Plan: Traffic Congestion Still a Concern

Dilshanie Perera

The Regional Planning Board met last Thursday at an informational session outlining the various elements pertaining to traffic and circulation changes as a result of Princeton University’s Campus Master Plan.

Planning Board traffic consultant Theodore Ehrlich, who works for DMJM Harris, estimated that 500 new employees would be hired by the University, and thus, 500 new trips would result. This would cause new levels of traffic congestion, particularly at the intersection of Mercer Street and Alexander Road, which he envisioned would be “pretty horrible.”

The campus plan is a ten-year initiative regarding University growth and development that extends to 2016. Increased sustainability efforts and the proposed Arts and Transit Neighborhood are key elements of the plan.

Though the campus plan’s “current design is worlds better than the original one,” Mr. Ehrlich cautioned that even though the University plans to move 350 jobs to West Windsor, the shift may not necessarily change the traffic flow on Alexander Road. “Moving those jobs off campus may not help the community at all,” he said.

Board member Marvin Reed wondered about the increase in the number of visitors to campus and how they might impact congestion. Regarding the changes in traffic flow, he said, “it may work for some people and not work for other people, and that’s something we’re going to have to weigh.”

“There is very little to increase the number of visitors in the campus plan, expect for the initiative in the arts,” said University Vice President and Secretary Bob Durkee, referring to the proposed Arts and Transit Neighborhood. Those particular visitors would be arriving at campus primarily in the evening after rush hour, he noted.

The overall increase of new employees, faculty, and staff is expected to be 464 people, according to Mr. Durkee, who added that 328 of them would be going to 701 Carnegie Center, a university satellite in West Windsor.

Adding that the remaining 136 people wouldn’t necessarily be commuting to campus every day, Mr. Durkee concluded that the “increase in the number of people is very small” and that the University is “determined to do even better than that” in terms of decreasing congestion.

Kim Jackson, the University’s Director of Transportation and Parking Services, said that they are agressively looking to reduce the number of single car rides to campus by 2012 by looking into vanpool and carpool options in addition to mass transit incentives.

Various members of the public asked questions and expressed concern about increased traffic and the safety of neighborhood streets.

Murray Place resident Marty Schneiderman, among other eastern campus neighbors who have been meeting regularly with University officials on the issue, submitted recommendations to the Board.

The suggestions include the need for a thorough traffic study specifically examining the impact of the proposed new eastern campus parking complex and child care facility, the improvement of key intersections before proceeding with other construction, establishing benchmarks and requiring the achievement of measurable targets to reduce the number of single-occupancy commuters, and revising the master plan to clearly limit future expansion of the University in Princeton.

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