June 26, 2013

Princeton Needs a Better Balance Between The Number of Jobs and Amount of Housing

To the Editor:

Why is Princeton overrun with traffic? Nearly 80 percent of our workforce, over 24,000 people, drive in from outside every day. Census data shows that the former Borough is home to more jobs than all of West Windsor. Every surrounding township sends more people into Princeton each day than the other way around. Moreover, there are tens of thousands more car trips entering Princeton for non-work reasons each day since our town is an arts, dining, shopping, and entertainment hub.

What can we do about this reality? Princeton needs a better balance between the number of jobs and the amount of housing. Most Princeton residents work in town. In the combined Princeton, nearly 27 percent walk or bike to work and 12 percent of households don’t own cars at all. In the former Borough more people walk to work than drive. Unfortunately, most of our workforce can’t afford to live within walking distance and is instead forced to drive in on congested roads, harming the quality of life for everyone. Other college towns like Ithaca, N.Y. have a near identical number of jobs (around 30,000) but allow far more residents to live within walking distance, taking thousands of cars off the roads compared to Princeton.

We shouldn’t fear that more housing will worsen our traffic. The traffic is driven by the fact that we’re the number one job center in the region and the number one entertainment hub. The proposal currently before the planning board to replace the old hospital with 280 apartments is a good start on our housing needs. We have every reason to expect that it will take more cars off the roads than it will add. If our peer college towns can do it, so can we. I believe it will be an asset to the town and should be approved.

David Keddie

David Brearly Court