November 9, 2022

Neighbors Circulate Petition After Traffic Fatality Along Mercer Road

By Anne Levin

On Friday, October 28 at 10:38 a.m., a landscaper working in the 900 block of Mercer Road was struck by a 2010 Kia Forte traveling south on the roadway. Ewing resident Salvatore Esposito-Dimarcant, 70, was transported to the Bristol Myers Squibb Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries.

The tragic incident, which is still under investigation, has been especially troubling to neighborhood residents who had employed the man, known as Sal, for decades. And it has renewed attempts to get the speed limit reduced on that portion of Mercer Road (also known as Princeton Pike), where a woman was struck by a vehicle and killed in 2016.

A petition is being circulated for presentation to Princeton Council regarding lowering the speed limit from 45 to 35 miles per hour, matching the speed of Mercer Road as it crosses the Princeton Battlefield. According to the petition, there are 19 homes that line the road in the Gallup Road area alone. “Those homeowners, and the contractors working at those homes, are at risk,” it reads. “The tragic fatality that occurred on October 28 might have been avoided with a lower speed limit.”

The petition also cites dim lighting, a high population of deer, narrow cycling lanes, and a rise that impedes visibility when exiting at the southern intersection of Gallup and Mercer roads, as problematic. “The change to 35 miles per hour past the battlefield was a welcome one,” it reads. “And when Princeton Pike continues in Lawrence past driveways, streets, and schools, the speed limit is even lower than 35 miles per hour. The many Princeton Pike residents at the southern end of Princeton deserve similar protection.”

Last week, neighborhood representatives reached out to Princeton Council about their concerns. Deanna Stockton and Jim Purcell of the Municipal Engineering Department met with three Princeton Police representatives about the issue. Correspondence from Stockton to Council members indicated that police are collecting traffic data near the site of the accident, which will be used to evaluate whether the speed limit can be adjusted.

The Engineering Department is reaching out to Lawrence Township engineers to see if there may be opportunities to review the speed in Princeton’s jurisdiction. Engineering has also approached the New Jersey Department of Transportation “for assistance in getting a contact at Google to remove the county designation from Mercer. It is not a county route and has never been in Princeton.”

Police have listed Mercer Road for enhanced enforcement activities, Stockton added. She and Purcell are working the information they have gathered into a formal response to the neighbors.

The fatal crash remains under investigation by the Princeton Police and the Mercer County Prosecutors Office. Anybody who may have witnessed the incident is asked to contact Patrolman Jonathan Myzie at (609) 921-2100 ext. 1875.

In the meantime, residents are making donations to Esposito-Dimarcant’s family. “The neighborhood has just been in shock from this,” said Gallup Road resident Anne Mackoul. “Sal cut our grass for as long as we’ve lived here.”

Mackoul stressed that this time of year can be especially dangerous. “Residents and landscapers are hard at work clearing fallen leaves, piling them up along the roadway, and sometimes stepping out into the roadway to blow back onto the pile leaves that scattered into the road, following local ordinances,” she wrote in an email. “All should be warned of the danger this poses, and drivers should be cautioned to be especially careful.”