Princeton University officials discussed plans for the design and construction of the school’s $330 million arts and transit project at a campus meeting Monday afternoon.Officials also reviewed the tentative schedule for the project, which will begin this spring and be completed in phases.
“Within the next month, we envision the (construction) fences coming up, and the buildings coming down,” said Anne St. Mauro, the school’s assistant vice president for facilities, who spoke at a meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Community, a deliberative body made up of faculty, students, staff and alumni.
Some University-owned buildings along Alexander Street have already been marked for demolition. Some of the buildings were already vacant, and University offices in other buildings have been relocated.
The project, which covers an area along University Place and Alexander Street just south of the McCarter Theatre and just east of Forbes College, includes three new campus arts buildings, changes to roadways in the area, and a new train station.
Most residents support the arts component of the project, but many oppose the University’s decision to move the train station about 460 feet farther away from the center of town.
The Princeton Planning Board approved the project in December. Citizens have filed a handful of lawsuits challenging the zoning, planning board approvals, and station move.
The project schedule is as follows:
Spring 2013 – Demolition begins, and the sidewalk in front of Forbes will be diverted as utility work begins along Alexander Street. Some power lines will be buried below ground, and some utility lines will be moved across the street.
June 2013 – Soon after the University’s June 4 Commencement activities, the section of Alexander Street between University Place and College Road will be closed for about six weeks as utility work is completed. Alexander Street traffic will be rerouted via University Place and College Road.
July 2013 – Alexander Street will re-open. Initial demolition on the Arts and Transit site will be completed and the construction of a new commuter parking lot and temporary train platform will begin. For a one-week period, the Dinky will be out of operation and will be replaced by bus service.
Fall 2013 – The temporary train platform and new commuter parking lot will open. Though the Dinky is operational from the temporary platform, riders will have the option of taking an express bus between the existing station and Princeton Junction until the new station opens in summer 2014. Renovation of the existing train station buildings will begin, and construction will start on the transit plaza, new train station, new Wawa, and access road to the West Garage known as Lot 7.
Fall 2013 to early 2014 – The new roundabout at the intersection of Alexander Street and University Place will be under construction. A temporary road will provide access through the site and to temporary parking at the Wawa.
Early 2014 – The traffic roundabout will open and road detours will end.
Summer 2014 – The new Dinky train station, Wawa, transit plaza and access road to the West Garage (Lot 7) will open. The Wawa will remain open at its current location until this point in time, when it will move to its new location.
Summer 2014 to summer 2017 – The three arts buildings and public arts plaza will be constructed. The opening date for the restaurant and café depends on the partner selected to operate the establishments.
Fall 2017 – The Arts and Transit Project will be completed, with the arts buildings in use for the fall semester.
University officials said the school will notify affected groups about work that will impact them. As pedestrian and vehicular paths shift to accommodate construction, signs will be posted to advise the public about new routes, officials said. Maps that identify construction zones and new routes also will be available on the school’s arts and transit project website.
Princeton University architect Ron McCoy, who presented detailed illustrations of the academic buildings and pathways, public and commercial buildings, open spaces, traffic improvements, and landscaping, began by talking about the scope of the project.
“This is a transformation of the western side of campus in a large way,” McCoy told the group. “It’s 22 acres. It’s the largest single development in the history of the campus, larger than the original campus of Princeton University.”