Engineering department: Reversing direction of South Tulane Street in Princeton is not a viable option

Intersection of South Tulane and Nassau streets in Princeton
The intersection of South Tulane Street and Nassau Street in Princeton. Photo: Krystal Knapp.

In the early morning of March 9, a test was conducted on South Tulane Street. Vehicles were sent south on the street towards the Nassau Street intersection as part of an experiment to see what would happen if the town reverses the direction of the street.

The reversal of the direction of South Tulane Street has been proposed as part of the plan to permanently make Witherspoon Street a one-way street heading south to north. In order to create a clockwise circle for traffic to flow in and alleviate the extra traffic on Vandeventer Avenue, the idea was to reverse the direction of Tulane Street so drivers could turn on Nassau to Witherspoon Street, then onto Spring Street, then onto Tulane Street, and then make a right back on to Nassau Street.

Mayor Mark Freda, a volunteer firefighter and member of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad for more than four decades, expressed concerns at a council meeting last month about the proposed change, citing safety issues. Some of the buildings at the intersection of Nassau Street and South Tulane stop where the street begins. Freda was concerned that vehicles would have no line of sight to safely turn onto Nassau Street, and that the change would be very dangerous for pedestrians. Other officials seemed to be unaware there could be safety issues, and thought they could be remedied by putting potted plants or other materials between the road and the crosswalk.

But the experiment on March 9 revealed that the change would be problematic due to the safety concerns Freda raised. One local merchant noted that the front end of some vehicles is well into the crosswalk before the driver has a line of sight.

Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton confirmed in an email on Monday that her department does not recommend that the direction of traffic on South Tulane Street be reversed. “It is not a viable option,” she said.


  1. I just find it surprising and disappointing that none of the members of Council would break ranks and express concern prior to Mayor Freda expressing concern.

  2. @Anonymous This is how bureaucracy works. The Mayor was the point person who would be responsible for the failure here when it happened. He realized the issue and had to take a stand. The council makes a lot of unwise decisions because no one person has the specific responsibility (and bears the price to pay) if the decision turns out to be a bad one. The reason the council first endorsed changing the direction of South Tulane was because it was the easiest way to allow the politically expedient decision of making Witherspoon one-way and restricting traffic there. No one had to think critically about South Tulane until afterwards.

  3. I am still uncertain about what this means for the redesign of Witherspoon St. Changing the direction of S. Tulane was a mitigation connected to making Witherspoon one-way northbound. The recommendations were made simultaneously by the consultant. Are we going to continue with the plan without mitigation?

  4. To Jo Butler’s question:
    Council members appear committed to making that block of Witherspoon one way and committed to the laudable goals of supporting businesses, promoting economic development and utilizing available grant money. Of course, there should be a recognition that not all business owners are in favor of one way Witherspoon and there should be recognition that traffic and circulation problems are very possible. If traffic and circulation problems happen, then economic growth may actually be stifled. Imagine a one way Witherspoon, construction at Griggs Corner and construction on Chambers (the hotel). Council members have also been successfully lobbied by the the promoters of the 900+ person petition. Someone really utilized the power of the internet to get all of those signatures on the petition, though one can question how many of the signers actually live in Princeton. It is also likely that Council members have been successfully lobbied by a few groups that are given significant difference by Council members. regarding many issues: Princeton Community Action Group, Walkable Princeton, Bikeable Princeton, etc. But, advocates for a one way Witherspoon are entitled to there positions. If more people believe it to be a very questionable idea, then those people should voice their opinion too.

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