January 20, 2021

Encouraging Council to Think About Consequences of Tulane Street Change

To the Editor:

I am writing to voice my objection to aspects of the newly passed ordinance permanently changing a portion of Witherspoon Street to a one-way street.

I realize that this is a challenging issue with many parties having different hopes and needs. We are all struggling to cope with the effects of the COVID crisis, but adaptations that work for some may be a hindrance to others. While I appreciate that there was an impetus to move quickly on this plan because, according to then Mayor Lempert, “Delaying it would mean we’d lose the grant funding for this project,” I do not think the implications of this ordinance have been well-considered. Many of the merchants that will be strongly affected, myself included, have been overwhelmed trying to weather the busy Christmas season during this pandemic and were not able to focus on this complicated topic.

I will leave aside the larger issue of whether Witherspoon should be one-way, although for the record I am against it, and focus on the part of this plan that directly affects my store. According to the Town Topics article on December 23 [“Council Vote Finalizes One-Way Traffic on Witherspoon,” page 1], South Tulane Street will be changed from one-way going north to south to one-way south to north.

We survive by buying collections of used CDs and LPs, and we need our customers to be able to drop them off in front of our store. They are heavy and difficult to carry any distance. With this proposed scenario, our customers will not be able to reach us in a direct way from Nassau Street. These typically out-of-town patrons, who do not know the ins-and-outs of our side streets, will be forced to take a circuitous route through a series of three one-way streets in the densest part of town to get to us. The perils of Princeton traffic have always been a complaint from our would-be customers, and this would increase those hassles dramatically.

Further, I am not sure if anyone has envisioned what the traffic flow on South Tulane will likely be under this plan. I would assume that this will funnel hundreds of cars a day up to Nassau Street from Spring Street, perhaps thousands on the weekends. The thought of all these cars crossing the extremely busy pedestrian crosswalk on Nassau Street without a traffic light is terrifying to me. We have mostly eliminated the crossing hazard at Washington and Nassau. Do we want to create another just one block away?

I encourage the town Council to put the brakes on this project and take some time to really think through the consequences of these proposed changes.

Jon Lambert
Owner, Princeton Record Exchange
South Tulane Street