October 10, 2012

Motorists Respond To Township Survey On Route 1 Issues

An interactive survey on the Township’s website, proposed by Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert and the Princeton Township Traffic Safety Committee, has enabled Township officials to collect recent statistics and details of commuters’ experiences on Route 1 that appear to have resulted from the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pilot project. The trial, which restricts left turns and U-turns on Route 1 at Washington Road and Harrison Street in West Windsor, began on Saturday, August 4, and was scheduled to last for 12 weeks.

While DOT officials cite reports of improved traffic flow on Route 1, the Township survey gives respondents the opportunity to get down to specifics. The fact that “Faculty Road is much more backed up at Washington Road, Hartley, and Harrison,” has been noted, as have dangers associated with using the DOT’s suggested alternate route on Scudder’s Mill Road.

“The trial is causing significant hardship for commuters into Princeton,” said Ms. Lempert, who is also the Democratic candidate for mayor of Princeton. “The Township has received 55 comments regarding the closures on Route 1 in the time period between September 19 and October 3.” Results of the Township’s survey will be reviewed by the engineering department.

Motorists participating in the survey complain about “illegal U-turns”; “wasting gas and emitting exhaust”; and “doubled and tripped commute times.” Multiple messages confirmed common problems like “Alexander is a parking lot,” and “traffic can be backed up on Alexander all the way to the exit from Route 1.”

The Township survey gives respondents an opportunity to include details on weather conditions; time spent traveling between locations; roadways traveled; and locations. Motorists are also asked how long the same trip took “pre-closure travel time,” in order to provide a basis for comparison.

Users of public transit are also experiencing the effects of the Route 1 limitations. Crossing Route 1 is “seriously impacting Princeton’s attractiveness as a place to live for those who rely on Princeton Junction train station,” said one report. The “DOT has created a public health hazard,” was another, along with “Alexander bridge was not made to accommodate this traffic volume; it is too narrow.”

“A trip from Canal Pointe to Princeton can now take 39 minutes,” complained a motorist. Others take note of the fact that people are “using the gas station on the corner of Route 1 and Harrison Street as a jughandle to turn around and go north on Route 1.”

“We are pressing the DOT to take a holistic approach to their data collection by factoring in the traffic impacts on secondary roads and related safety concerns,” said Ms. Lempert.