Stony Brook Bridge Rehab Project Stirs Troubled Waters in Township
A project set to begin on Route 206 could burn bridges between the state and Princeton Township instead of building them.
If the New Jersey Department of Transportation is successful in carrying out its reconstruction plans for the Stony Brook Arch Bridge at Route 206 and Quaker Road, a battle of aesthetics may heat up, as Township officials have expressed serious reservations about the DOT¹s proposed improvements to the Stony Brook Arch Bridge at Route 206 and Quaker Road. The reconstruction, they say, is not in keeping with the landmark bridge, or with that of the Princeton Battlefield/Stony Brook Settlement Historic District, and the Kings Highway National Register Historic District.
According to DOT, the original, three-arched, 213-year-old bridge (one of the oldest in the state), is safe and passable and "more than adequate to handle vehicular traffic."
However, DOT has said that a connecting segment of the bridge that stretches across the flood plain, built in 1896, is of declining integrity, and needs to be replaced.
According to the DOT plan, the opening railings, or slats, will be replaced with a concrete wall with one-inch deep relief that will "simulate" the open railing.
"It's not only going to change the appearance, but we're worried about how the work will be done," said Township Historic Preservation Officer Christine Lewandoski Thursday, adding that projects like these tend to go to the lowest bidder.
"This is really important: we've been meeting with [DOT] on this, but they have not backed down," she said.
Members of the Historic Preservation District have been worried about the project for some time, Ms. Lewandoski said, adding that the DOT's primary safety concerns can be met without compromising the aesthetics of the bridge.
The Stony Brook proposal recalls last year's Harry's Brook Bridge rehabilitation project on Princeton-Kingston Road by Lake Carnegie. In that project, also spearheaded by DOT, the bridge was entirely replaced by one that was not of character of the former bridge, according to HPC members.
DOT will hold a public information session at Township Hall this evening, May 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. DOT staff will be on-hand to answer questions and field public comment.