Town Receives Grants for Improvement Projects
By Donald Gilpin
Phases II and III of the Witherspoon Street project, improvements to Terhune Road, extension of the bicycle-pedestrian path on Cherry Hill Road, and reconstruction of Dickinson Street along with resurfacing of parts of Alexander Street and University Place will all be receiving significant boosts in funding in 2023 with a total of nearly $3.5 million in year-end grants from state and federal coffers.
As part of a $1.7 trillion federal government bill that Congress passed on December 23, Princeton will receive $750,000 for Witherspoon Street Phase II and III improvements. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman announced on December 27 that the Witherspoon Street undertaking, along with 14 other projects in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional district, would be receiving a total of more than $15 million in federal community project funding as part of the omnibus bill.
“From mental health services to infrastructure improvements, these investments will make Central Jersey a better place to live, work, and raise a family,” she said in her announcement. “As New Jersey’s sole congressional appropriator, I take great pride in making sure my constituents’ federal tax dollars come right back to their communities.”
Princeton Assistant Municipal Engineer James Purcell noted that the federal funds for Phases II and III of the Witherspoon project would be added to $625,000 from the state in Municipal Aid for Phase II.
Planned improvements on Witherspoon between Green Street and Franklin Avenue include underground utility upgrades, tree removal and replacement where necessary, sidewalk removal and expansion, and roadway surface removal and replacement. Authorities have reviewed six bids that have been received and are expected to soon award a contract of approximately $4.3 million for completion of Phase II. Preliminary planning for Phase III, Franklin Avenue to Valley Road, has begun, and the awarding of a contract is anticipated by November 2023.
With the help of a New Jersey Safe Streets to Transit grant of $636,000, Terhune Road from North Harrison to Grover Avenue will be reconstructed, including the road itself, a shared-use path on the north side, the addition of a dedicated bike lane on the south side, and traffic calming by way of a raised intersection at Thanet Circle and the new connector road. These upgrades are in conjunction with improvements being made by the developers of Avalon at Thanet and The Alice. The anticipated cost of this project is $1,049,000.
State Municipal Aid funds of $724,820 will be focused on significant reconstruction to Dickinson Street, along with sidewalk improvements and updated curb ramps. Alexander Street and University Place north of the roundabout will also be resurfaced, with the total cost of the project expected to be $1,366,000.
As part of New Jersey’s Local Bikeway Program, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced on December 12 that Princeton would be awarded $750,000 to extend its Cherry Hill Road shared bicycle-pedestrian path from Foulet Drive to Crestview Drive. The path currently extends from Cherry Hill Road and Route 206/State Road to Foulet Drive.
Bikeway Grant awards for 2023 in Mercer County also went to Lawrence Township for its Pretty Brook Road Lawrence-Hopewell Trail Connector project and to West Windsor Township for its Conover Road Connection to South Post Road initiative.
In conjunction with Murphy’s announcement of more than $24 million in transportation-related grants, New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said, ”The Department of Transportation is proud to support Gov. Murphy’s vision to make New Jersey more fair, equitable, and environmentally friendly. We appreciate the governor and the legislature providing an additional $20 million this year for Bikeways, Safe Streets to Transit, and Transit Village Grants. The increased funding means a record number of towns are receiving grants to create safer, more walkable and bikeable communities, and promote the use of public transportation.”
Citing rising traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the state, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition Executive Director Debra Kagan pointed out that the new funding initiatives would support “vulnerable road users and create more walkable and bikeable roads, an essential part of building a safer and more equitable transportation system for New Jersey.”
Purcell pointed out some of the added benefits of the state and federal grants. “They free up our ability to do other improvements that are on our list,” he said. “Without the grants we’d be waiting on those. We’re hoping to see lots of streets resurfaced this year through our resurfacing program.”