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Borough Council considers traffic pattern recommendations

In an attempt to alleviate traffic congestion in the greater Princeton area, the Borough Council is considering altering traffic-signal patterns and widening intersections.

The traffic options resulted from a recently completed study by Garmen Associates — a transportation engineering firm located in Montvale — and were presented to the council by Garmen engineer Gary Davies at a meeting earlier this month.

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"[The Borough] really needed a master plan to better understand what the emerging traffic concerns were," Davies said. "They also needed to know how they could improve intersection and pedestrian crossings and how to accommodate future development."

Among the areas under inspection are the Nassau St. intersections with Washington Road, University Place, Mercer Street and Witherspoon Street. "We'll make traffic flow better in three spots so Nassau Street won't be so congested," Davies said.

He estimated the total cost of the proposed improvements will be about $250,000.

Borough Engineer Carl Peters said he plans to study the proposed changes and make further recommendations to the council. He said that though he thinks most of the proposals will be passed to some extent, the costs will exceed Davies' estimates.

"Garmen's numbers are too low," Peters said.

Davies added that the council had generally favorable reactions to the suggestions, but that no changes could be made until Peters works with the local government to win full approval for the changes.

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Peters added that all of Davies' changes cannot be implemented at once, but rather, the Borough "needs to prioritize." Peters also said he supports the proposed signal changes but disagrees with parts of the more construction-intensive projects, like removing parking spaces to widen lanes. Rather than permanently removing spaces, he said he supports a test period of "at least 30 days to see if it helps at all."

Along these lines, Davies proposed the removal of 12 parking spaces at the intersection of Witherspoon and Nassau streets. The move would allow for the addition of a new right-turn lane onto Nassau Street, but Peters said he prefers a more cautious approach. "I think we should possibly take out a couple of spaces to get what you want," he said.

Peters said he thinks the changes in general will not have a large impact on traffic. "The changes are modest so the improvements in flow will be modest as well."

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