Two busy intersections on Harrison Street will be safer for students walking and biking to school after they are improved with approximately $674,000 of federal funds, said Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert on Friday.
Mayor Lempert announced the improvements in conjunction with New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, as well as Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and Assemblyman Roy Freiman.
“Princeton is fortunate to have a culture where many of our students walk and bike to school,” said Mayor Lempert. “We know from local surveys that even more of our students would walk and bike if they felt safer doing so. And that’s why the Safe Routes to School program is so important to us here in Princeton.”
The traffic signal at the corner of Harrison St and Franklin St, as well as the one at Harrison Street and Hamilton Street, will be replaced and there will be pedestrian upgrades, better ramps and other improvements including automatic light changes for emergency vehicles.
Beth Behrend, president of the Princeton Board of Education, praised the project. "The Franklin/Harrison corner has been a school traffic bottleneck for years," she said. "We are grateful to our municipal and state leaders for securing the federal funds to improve these intersections for the safety of our students. We look forward to seeing more children enjoying the benefits of biking and walking, as well as fewer idling vehicles."
The traffic signals are 40 years old and do not meet current requirements for people with disabilities, they lack push button activation, and they are not positioned properly for pedestrian visibility.
“I want to give a huge shout-out to Princeton’s superstar municipal engineer, Deanna Stockton, for securing the Safe Routes to School grant and for being such a huge champion for walking and biking infrastructure in Princeton. Not all towns are as lucky to have such an enlightened engineering department as we do,” said Mayor Lempert.
The mayor also thanked the New Jersey Department of Transportation and specifically NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti who came to Princeton Friday for the announcement. “We are lucky to have a commissioner at the Department of Transportation who understands that transportation is more than just cars and trucks and that it’s also about people crossing the street on bikes and on foot.”
Donna Bradin, Transportation Supervisor for Princeton Public Schools, said that approximately half of the District's nearly 4000 students walk or bike to school. Anything that makes the journey to and from school easier and safer has always been a priority for the district, she said.
Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti said that the project is one of 28 projects that are moving forward because of an additional $100 million in federal funding that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded to NJDOT in September. The work on the project is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2020.