Princeton Traffic and Transportation Committee Calls for Safety Improvements on Washington Road

towpath Washington Road PrincetonIn the wake of an accident that injured two cyclists on Washington Road Sunday afternoon, the traffic and transportation committee for the town of Princeton is calling on Mercer County to install flashing lights and signs along Washington Road at the D&R Canal Towpath crossing.

The committee voted unanimously Monday night to approve a resolution calling for the governing body of Princeton to coordinate with the Princeton Engineering Department and Police Traffic Safety Unit to work on a proposal to be sent to Mercer County. Washington Road, also known as Route 571, is a county road.

The committee hopes West Windsor Township will also support the resolution. Freeholder Andrew Koontz said the Mercer County Department of Transportation reviews all proposals for road changes. Koontz told Planet Princeton Sunday night that he would support the addition of a crosswalk on Washington Road. He suggested both Princeton and West Windsor pass resolutions in support of the measure.

A father and his eight-year-old son were struck by a Jeep Sunday afternoon just south of the Carnegie Lake Bridge. The Jeep was traveling south on Washington Road, passed a vehicle on the right that was stopped in the southbound lane, and then hit the father and son, who were standing on the shoulder of the roadway with their bicycles.

Push button, rapid flashing lights are already in place on Harrison Street and Alexander Road at the D&R Towpath crossings on those roads.

Princeton Police Sgt. Thomas Murray said he would advocate that new crosswalks be consistent with the ones on Harrison Street and Alexander Road. “The trick is to get people in habit stopping and using that control,” he said. “It takes time, but a lot of progress has been made.”

Some residents say the lights on Harrison and Alexander are often out of order. Officials said they would look into the issue. The municipality is responsible for the flashing crosswalk on Alexander Road and the county is responsible for the flashing crosswalk on Harrison Street.


  1. It IS very silly that there are flashing lights and crosswalks where the towpath meets Harrison and Alexander, while the towpath crossing on Washington is unmarked and largely invisible to drivers who are usually going much faster than is possible at either of the well-marked crossings.

  2. There is one big difference, and it will likely cause some issues. Alexander and Harrison are 25mph zones at the crossings. It’s very easy to stop if you are paying any attention to the light. Washington Rd, however, is 40mph heading south after coming over a blind spot bridge, and 50mph heading north after picking up speed going downhill. While the northbound traffic could easily see a light, the problems will arise when someone is already fairly close to the light, someone activates it, and they have to brake hard, which in today’s world of people not looking up while driving, is a good way to create a lot of rear enders, or last minute swerve arounds.

    Now, you could put additional warning lights further up the street to let people know a light is ahead, or has been activated, or you could reduce the speeds on that street, but I think this has the potential to get worse before it gets better. Also, given the traffic on this street, heading south could more easily be slowed via speed limit reduction, with some amount of congestion increase at Faculty Road, but heading north could be a real mess at some times if a 50mph heavily traffic road is slowed.

    All that said, every time I drive by here Im constantly on the lookout and worried about people trying to cross, and feel like something should be done. Personally, I’d say the university could pony up for an extended pedestrian/bike ramp that goes over the street. But it would have to be quite high, given that trucks pass through there, and would be quite an undertaking, and potentially an eyesore. And of course a lot more expensive. But if done right, more enjoyable for people who dont have to worry about getting run over anymore.

  3. Too bad there has to be accidents to stimulate the appropriate conversations and engage public officials.

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