A state official confirmed Monday that the Washington Road Bridge replacement is nearing completion, but said a date when the bridge will reopen to vehicles has not yet been determined by state officials.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation said more work remains on the bicycle and pedestrian portion of the bridge over the D&R Canal. That work may be completed after the bridge reopens, he said. The bicycle and pedestrian portion would then reopen later after that work is done.
The $9.4 million state project to replace the bridge over the D&R Canal began July 26.
One local opinion blogger had said the bridge replacement project wouldn’t cause traffic jams, also claiming traffic in and around Princeton has not grown progressively worse since the 1980s. Area residents disagree with those opinions from experience driving during the bridge closure. The bridge repair project has caused major traffic delays throughout the Princeton area since the start of the project. The delays became much worse in the fall after school started again. Some residents suggested that officials take measures to mitigate the problems caused by the road closure, but instead, commuters have had to endure the delays.
Residents and commuters have reported delays of 15 minutes to more than half an hour due to the bridge closure. Traffic is sometimes backed up all the way past Carnegie Center due to drivers trying to get into Princeton via Alexander Road or Harrison Street.
One Friday afternoon at about 1:30 p.m. traffic was so backed up that one reader said it took 35 minutes to drive from the MarketFair area on Route 1 north to Harrison Street.
Reader Duna Skinner said it took her 45 minutes to get from McCaffreys on Harrison Street to Marketfair. “That is normally a 15-minute drive from Harrison to Route 1. Harrison to Route 1 was so backed up because of the bridge closure that I decided to go down Nassau to Alexander thus bypassing Route 1. I guess everyone else had the same idea,” Skinner said.
Princeton resident T.J. Elliott said even a short drive along Faculty Road from South Harrison Street to Alexander Road that used to take a few minutes often takes 15 minutes or more.
With changing traffic patterns on Witherspoon Street, Chambers Street, and the Vandeventer Avenue and Nassau Street intersection, many residents say the Washington Road bridge closure has been just as painful or even worse than past projects like the Alexander Road bridge replacement project.