Up until recently, driving down the Princeton Borough portion of Jefferson Road was bad to the point where many residents began fearing for the lives of their cars, but the Borough, offset by some state funding, has projects underway to give that road, and neighboring throughways, some much-needed TLC.
As projected, crews came in on October 3 to begin sewer work on Jefferson in the block roughly between Hawthorne and Franklin avenues, with curb and sidewalk repairs following shortly thereafter. With Humbert Street, Greenview Avenue, and Hornor Lane to follow, the $1.89 million project will allow some of the Borough's worst roadways to be repaired for the first time, in Jefferson Road's case, in 30 years.
Financing from the state's Environmental Infrastructure Trust administered through the Department of Environmental Protection served, in part, as a means of funding the project with a low-interest loan, but the Borough also received $300,000 in local aid grant funding from the Department of Transportation.
The project could be extended to the beginning of June as the Borough is likely to halt the work process on December 1 when cold weather conditions can preclude asphalt from being set down, but by that point, said Borough Engineer Carl Peters, work crews will have completed the first phase of reconstruction.
"We're hoping to get this first layer of paving done by the beginning of winter, but we won't be able to get the final layer in before the spring," Mr. Peters said, adding that the telltale mid-construction elevated manhole covers will protrude about two inches above the road surface.
In June, the Borough awarded the Old Bridge-based Star of the Sea Concrete Company to reconstruct the four roadways. Star of the Sea has contracted with the Borough on several projects in the past, including last year's reconstruction of Alexander Street and Edwards Place and a $1.69 million project to reconstruct Patton Avenue, Hibben Road, Washington Road, and Moran Avenue.
And while a major gripe from residents is the quality of Borough roads, many throughways are being repaired on a per-need basis, Mr. Peters said, acknowledging that roads like Jefferson have long been in need of attention. "I've been here 22 years, and it probably wasn't in such hot shape when I got here," he said.
Mercer Street, which has long been a bane to drivers coming in and out of town, while important, is not at the top of the Borough's priority list, Mr. Peters said. "Yes, it's in poor condition, but it's not in markedly poorer condition this year than it was five years ago."
Records indicate that the concrete paving visible along Mercer was initially poured in 1927, but to reconstruct that road is "such a big expense, that to have that project going in at any one year, it knocks out doing a lot of other streets," Mr. Peters said, adding that along with budget cuts, one of the Borough's concerns is to keep up on regular maintenance of roads reconstructed in the past 15 to 20 years, thus "keeping up on our investment.
"If we let those roads start to deteriorate, we'll lose the whole roadway again."
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