Planet Princeton

County Receives Approvals for Pedestrian Crosswalk on Washington Road in Princeton

Mercer County has received approvals from the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission to install a crosswalk and
pedestrian-activated beacons at the Washington Road crossing, a crossing heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists.

The approvals were necessary due to the proposed crossing’s proximity to the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Towpath and the potential visual impacts on the elm allee. The State Historic Preservation Office, Princeton Historic Preservation Office, and Princeton University all had to sign off on the project as well.

The work will be done by the Mercer County Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. Officials said the crosswalk, as well as flashers on posts and the road, will be installed by the end of this year.

The Delaware and Raritan Canal crossing at Washington Road (CR 571) is one of the most heavily used at-grade crossings in Mercer County.

In October of 2014, a father and son on a bike ride were walking their bikes across the street and were struck where the towpath crosses Washington Road. Princeton and West Windsor residents demanded that a crosswalk and flashing lights be installed after the incident. Princeton and West Windsor officials later adopted resolutions supporting pedestrian safety enhancements, including a high-visibility crosswalk and pedestrian-activated beacons.

“I’m very pleased that the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission has given the final approval for this very needed crosswalk to be put in place to create added safety for all users of the towpath,” Mercer county Freeholder and Princeton resident Andrew Koontz said. “It’s been a longtime coming, and I’m just grateful to the county administration for their diligence here. This process took a lot longer than anyone anticipated, with a large number of regulatory approvals, but they hey kept at it, and here we are.”

Koontz said the county freeholders will vote on a resolution to fund the crosswalk next month at the Aug. 18 meeting, and that he expects full support for the project.

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.

  • biijii

    Joe – My son and I had been riding on the towpath trail since he was four. We live off of Canal Pointe and the towpath is practically in our backyard. Prior to our accident we had likely rode the same route crossing Alexander / Washington / Harrison – 20 – 30 times.

    Your point about making eye contact rings very true with me as that is precisely what I had relied upon for safe crossings so many times. In fact I can still see in my mind the eye contact I had made with the very kind man who stopped to allow my son and I to cross Washington St. just moments before the guy behind him, who was not paying attention, veered to the right of his car striking my son and I rather than rear-ending the “eye-contact guy.”

    While the new safety systems which will be installed at the D&R/Washington Rd. crossing will make it much safer for the trail users to cross Washington Rd., I’ll bet that the prioritization of making eye contact by trail users with the motorists while crossing, will always be instinctive.

  • krystalknapp

    Agreed regarding other crossings. Love to bike along the canal, but crossing Harrison and Alexander can be scary. I wait for cars in both directions to fully stop and wave me through. When I don’t want to deal with that I drive to Washington Crossing and bike up past Stockton. The crossings are smaller and all the cars know to stop. Silly to have to drive over there to have a ride that feels safe.

  • Joe

    I am so thankful that biijii and his son survived that terrible accident. So sorry for all you had to go through but pray for your continued recovery. When I first read about this accident it chilled me to the bone and hit home since I bike the D&R towpath on a regular basis. Even with the flashing lights, you still are at high risk of some driver traveling at high speed, drivers unfamiliar with the area and the blind spots on many of the bike crossings. The Harrison Street crossing: the road is narrow and twisting, the cars from route 1 barrel into the crosswalk from a sharp curve that blocks their sight of the upcoming crosswalk. The cars from Princeton also are coming at a fast clip as they travel on the large bridge over Lake Carnegie. I try my best to get eye contact with the drivers from both directions before crossing. Many times I just give up, turn around and content myself with a shorter loop. The Alexander Road crossing is also very dicey even with the flashing lights; you must wait until both lanes come to a full stop and then cross very gingerly. Thank goodness there is a tunnel underneath Route 27 by the old red mill house in Kingston.

  • Andrew Koontz

    Thank you for commenting, and I regret that the accident happened. I am hopeful that the measures the county will install will help prevent future accidents, and better ensure the safety of all users of the canal path. Please stay strong and my best to you and your son.

  • krystalknapp

    Thanks for posting. Sorry you and your son had to go through all that. Many readers and colleagues contacted us shortly after the accident to find out how you were. We don’t obtain or share that kind of info. because of privacy issues. Sorry to hear you still suffer as a result of this accident, but glad you made it through. We hope no one else will have to go through what you endured. Thanks again for posting.

  • biijii

    I am the guy who, in October 2014 and with my then 8yo son were struck by a motorist as we were waiting to cross Washington Rd. We both spent several months in the hospital and several more months in rehabilitative therapy. While we continue to carry wounds and are afflicted daily as a result of this tragic accident we are thankful to be alive. We are also very thankful that the several and somewhat disparate bodies mentioned in the article above have come together to push this very important project forward. A project which will better enable the safety of all who enjoy this section of the D&R trail-way.

  • biijii

    I am the guy who in October 2014 and along with my son who, was 8 at the time, were struck by a motorist while we were waiting to cross Washington Rd. with our bicycles. We both spent several months in the hospital and after many surgeries, many more months in rehabilitative therapy. While we still carry wounds and are afflicted by this tragedy daily, we are thankful to be alive. We as a family are also so thankful that the several and somewhat disparate bodies mentioned in the above article have come together to carry forward this very important project which will better ensure the safety of all who enjoy this section of the D&R trail way.

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