University to fund study of community transit needs
The University has pledged to contribute to a study of the local community’s transit needs under an agreement with local government that went into effect on Tuesday. At a reception held in the Dinky waiting room, which the University has reopened under the agreement, officials from the University, Borough and Township celebrated the passage of their memorandum of understanding on transit negotiations.
Limited terms of the agreement go into effect immediately. The University has opened the waiting room at the Dinky station to the public and will make its first payment towards funding a study of the community’s transit needs.
A task force, partially funded by the University and partially by municipal funding, will begin to study the community’s transit and traffic needs and the effects of the University’s diverse expansion projects.
In addition to the task force, the University is now making a $100,000 contribution to establish a trust fund for further studies of the communities transit needs, and, if the memorandum goes into full effect, will contribute additional funds up to $500,000.
The task force will undertake a study of the community’s long-term transit and traffic needs and how these may be affected by the proposed Arts and Transit Neighborhood and the University’s other pending developments.
The study, which would include in its consideration the Hibben-Magie graduate student housing complex and the Merwick/Stanworth property, would be completed within eight months.
As part of the agreement, the University began operating the Dinky waiting room on Tuesday. The former station building, located about 100 feet north of the station building currently in use, has been closed since the University moved the station to its current location in 1985.
Although the University owns the station building, opening and operating it has been the responsibility of New Jersey Transit.
As part of the agreement, NJ Transit will allow the University to open the station between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. on weekdays at its own expense. Dinky patrons will now be able to use the station restrooms and to wait in a climate-controlled space during those times.
If the University’s requested zoning has not been approved within six months, the University may choose to close the station.
The full terms of the memorandum will go into effect if and when the governing bodies and the Regional Planning Board of Princeton approve the zoning ordinance allowing the Universityto build its Arts and Transit Neighborhood in the Alexander corridor near Forbes College.
Elected officials, primarily in the Borough, have opposed the plan over the past year because the University plans to move the Dinky 460 feet further south.
Local residents have considered the possibility of eventually replacing the Dinky with a light rail transit system running to Princeton Junction but have been hesitant about the project’s feasibility in the near future because it would cost tens of millions of dollars.
In the event that the community replaces the Dinky any time in the next 65 years, the memorandum gives the community a right-of-way allowing them to construct a new rail or light rail transit system from the current Dinky station all the way to Nassau Street along Alexander Street and University Place.
The memorandum also requires that the University pay for the installation of three illuminated pedestrian crosswalks in the area immediately surrounding the campus. These crosswalks would lie across Nassau Street at Palmer Square and at 185 Nassau and across Tulane Street.
The first draft of the memorandum, the product of negotiations between representatives from the University and the two governing bodies, appeared in May. Neither governing body voted to pass it.
After a second round of negotiations, a revised version of the ordinance appeared in September. It was approved by the Borough Council on Oct. 4 and by the Township Committee on Oct. 24.
CorrectionA previous version of this article stated that the incipient task force study would be funded out of the trust fund for future transit studies and that the right-of-way would run along the path of the Dinky’s original track prior to the 1984 move of the station.
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