Alexander Road To Close November 6; Additional Disruptions in Coming Months
By Donald Gilpin
Alexander Road will be closed from November 6, 2019 through April 1, 2020, Mayor Liz Lempert announced earlier this week, as the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) and Mercer County reconstruct two bridges and a culvert.
“This is much needed infrastructure work,” Lempert said in a Monday press briefing. “We understand the impact on quality of life, but we will be better off at the end of this project. We would be increasingly at risk of emergency closings with no ability to plan ahead if we didn’t do this now.”
Acknowledging the traffic and business challenges the community will face over the five-month period, she emphasized the urgency of the repair work and the need for mutual support. “I’m grateful to all of our community partners who came to the table to help us work through this. It may be painful, but it’s important to support local businesses at this time. We can get through this together as a community.”
The timing of this closure over the holiday season is a matter of concern for many, but has been necessitated by environmental issues, with the bridges located in an environmentally-sensitive area. The DOT will be holding a public information session on the project on Wednesday, September 25 in Monument Hall.
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, construction work in the area of the bridges is prohibited from May 1 to July 31, in order to protect warm water fish within Stony Brook and Alexander Creek from sediment-generating activities. Also, the clearing of trees six inches in diameter at breast height or greater is not permitted from April 1 to September 30 of each year because of the presence of the Indiana bat, a federally listed endangered species.
On about October 15, the DOT will be installing variable message boards on Route 1, Interstate 295, and elsewhere, with information about projected travel times on the different roads into Princeton so that drivers can plan accordingly.
“We’ll do everything we can to minimize traffic problems into and out of town,” Lempert said. “We’re working with the merchant community so people realize that Princeton is open for business, celebrating with holiday events, and one of the best places to come for dining and shopping.”
In addition, the municipality is working with the County and the DOT to eliminate any additional road closures after November 6. As a result, Route 206 south towards Lawrenceville will be closed at night for resurfacing Monday to Thursday, 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and Friday, 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., starting next week for about six weeks.
Also the County will be working on the bridge over Stonybrook on Mercer Street south of Quaker Road for about 15 days beginning on September 23, closing the bridge Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. Cars will detour onto Province Line Road and Route 206.
Princeton Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton also noted that there will be an additional nighttime closure on Alexander Road for water company work, from October 7 to 11 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., and from October 1 to 4 there will be alternating traffic on Alexander Road, one lane in each direction from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lempert added that during the November to April Alexander Road closure employers are urged, if possible, to implement flex time or telecommuting for employees in order to help reduce the traffic impact in and out of Princeton during rush hours. She also recommended that Princeton residents, whenever possible, use the Dinky rather than driving to Princeton Junction.
At Monday night’s meeting, Princeton Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution establishing Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October to “honor the lives of tribal peoples, including their cultures, traditions, and arts.”
Also at Monday’s meeting the organization Not in Our Town, “a movement to stop hate, racism, and bullying, and build safe, inclusive communities for all,” was honored with an Award of Recognition.