January 15, 2014

Arts & Transit Project Poised for Opening Of New Traffic Circle

The next stage of construction for Princeton University’s $330 million Arts & Transit project will begin in two weeks with the opening of the traffic circle at University Place and Alexander Road. Kristin Appelget, the University’s Director of Community and Regional Affairs, told Princeton Council on Monday night that the soft opening for the roundabout is scheduled for Sunday, January 26. The site will be ready for rush hour the following morning, barring a blizzard or other significant weather event.

The temporary traffic signal at College Avenue and University Place will continue for a time, as the University monitors how motorists adjust to the new vehicular pattern. A new pedestrian route will open in the area, Ms. Appelget said, and some parking that has been closed will also be reopened. The temporary road will close.

The Wawa market will remain at its current site at Alexander Street and University Place until the new Dinky train station opens, projected for this summer. No changes are planned at this time for the parking lot of the temporary train station. The schedules for the train and the Tiger Paw bus will continue, as will the shuttle bus that has been running between the parking lot and McCarter Theatre on the nights McCarter has performances. During the next two weeks, sidewalks along Alexander Place will be completed and new street lighting will be put in place.

The 21-acre complex of arts buildings designed by Steven Holl will include a new Wawa and train station designed by architect Rick Joy. The old Dinky train station is being converted into a restaurant and cafe.

Last month, a state Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit by the citizens’ group Save the Dinky, which was seeking to block the relocation of the train terminus. The suit claimed that the University needed NJ Transit’s approval for the move, due to a contract signed when the University purchased the land from NJ Transit in 1984. But Judge Paul Innes ruled against the group because NJ Transit has sanctioned the move.

Save the Dinky has until February 6 to appeal. Several other lawsuits challenge the move of the Dinky train station. Meanwhile, construction of the Arts & Transit complex continues and is expected to be completed in 2017.