Planet Princeton

Princeton Officials to State: Alexander Road Bridge Must Be Replaced Before Route 1 Jughandle Changes Made Permanent

Princeton Township officials are calling on the state Department of Transportation to replace the Alexander Road bridge before any closure of the jughandles on Route 1 at Washington Road and Harrison Street becomes permanent.

“The bridge is only 20 feet wide, and it is not wide enough for two large vehicles to pass each other, like a bus or a truck,” Princeton Township Engineer Bob Kiser said at a Township Committee meeting last night as he showed slides of a Princeton University bus going over the bridge.

“Buses are approaching the center line due to the narrowness if the bridge,” Kiser said. “When a bus or large vehicle approaches, it stops traffic on the other side.”

The right of way for the bridge is only 36 feet wide, but in order to replace the bridge with a widened one, 50 or 60 feet of right of way is needed, Kiser said. The land on both sides of the bridge is preserved under the state’s Green Acres program. The state would need to approve a bigger right of way. The area is also part of a historic district.

“Statehouse approval is quite a process,” Kiser said. “It could be very time consuming.”

Committeeman Bernie Miller noted that the bridge is only 240 inches wide, but one of the buses depicted in Kiser’s slides is 128 inches wide.

“You cannot get two buses across that bridge at the same time. What is even more of a concern is that the large rescue vehicle used by the Princeton First Aid an Rescue Squad are 108 inches wide,” Miller said. “If the state makes the changes to Route 1 permanent and diverts traffic from Trenton along Route 1 up Alexander Road, the number of buses, semi-trucks  and other large vehicles on the bridge will increase, and there will be an increased likelihood that we will need to get emergency equipment like fire trucks across the bridge. But the bridge will be tied up.”

Miller suggested that Princeton Township tell the state after the 12-week jughandle trial is over not to make any changes permanent until action is taken to widen the bridge. He suggested that Princeton University and Princeton Borough officials could sign a joint letter addressed to the DOT commissioner.

“We need to  try and get the state to recognize that while the jughandle closures may improve the flow of traffic on Route 1, the changes are creating a risk for the residents of Princeton Borough and Township,” Miler said.

Kristin Appelget, director of community and regional affairs for Princeton University, said the university continues to join the Princetons in expressing concerns about the ongoing jughandle trial and would probably support a letter or resolution on the bridge issue.

Officials noted that traffic has started to back up on Alexander Road in recent days. Drivers traveling north on Route 1 who want to head into Princeton  must take Alexander Road into town or must drive all the way to Scudders Mill Road and head back south on Route 1 to take Harrison Street or Washington Road into town. Sometimes traffic is backed up along Alexander all the way from Route 1 to the Wawa area. Cyclists have expressed concerns about biking along the bike lane on Alexander Road because of all the extra traffic.

The Borough and Township plan to add a feature to their websites so residents can write in what their trip times are if the have problems.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • j bender

    On Tues, Wed, and Thur of this week at around 6:30pm the traffic on Alexander going into Princeton was backed up at least as far as Rt1. That seems unworkable.

  • ltn

    The flashing lights do not work. Pedestrians have to rely on drivers ceding pedestrian right of way on the white crossing lines.

  • mike

    It took me 65 minutes to get into Princeton on Monday, going only 9 miles. Alexander road was backed up all the way past the Hyatt entrance. Scudders Mill road is NOT the answer and the bridge getting bigger is a good idea but does not deal with the traffic after the bridge. Face it, there will always be more traffic it will not get less so we should put the bypass in on rt 1 in front of Sarnoff that will connect Harrison and Washington road to get into town. This is the answer, so lets stop procrastinating, it will only get worse.

  • Mikey Moore

    The bridge on Quaker Rd is being replaced which is pushing more traffic to Alexander Rd, mainly because the Province Line and Princeton Pike intersection is more of a mess than usual. The jug handle should not be eliminated until at least that bridge is done and should probably wait until Alexander Rd bridge is replaced.
    The reality is that there are LOTs of people that need to GET AROUND or THROUGH Princeton everyday. There options to do that are adequate at best when all are open. Now that Quaker Rd is closed and the jug handle experiment is ongoing it’s going to suck until one or both are back to normal.

  • Joanna

    My commute times have become nearly unbearable now that school is in session. There are simply not enough options for entering Princeton in the morning during rush hour. It has become near gridlock on all routes I’ve tried, especially Alexander Rd.

  • Pat Palmer

    Recently (at the crosswalk before the bridge) as I kept my eye on a large vehicle about to cross the bridge coming towards me, I nearly ran over a jogger who did not notice or bother to push the button to get the flashing lights. I was not going fast, and anti-lock brakes saved the jogger’s life. The point is, having large vehicles go faster at that area is not a good idea. The narrow bridge has always played the role of traffic calming. I resent having to cut into “preserved open space” to cater to the needs of Route 1 traffic and the university’s desire to move the Dinky (thus adding more traffic and a traffic light to Alexander not far from the bridge in question). What’s needed is a bridge/jughandle either at Washington Rd or Harrison St. If eminent domain must be used, use it there instead of in our park lands.

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