Construction in town did not take a summer break.
Students came back to campus this fall to find Witherspoon Street dug up and Graduate Hotel construction well underway. According to Princeton Town Council members and the municipality’s Engineering Department, the work will be finished soon.
Councilmember Michelle Pirone Lambros told The Daily Princetonian that construction on Witherspoon Street between Nassau Street and Spring Street is on schedule to be completed by “late October or early November.”
In an interview with the ‘Prince’, Assistant Municipal Engineer Jim Purcell said that construction on Witherspoon will increase sidewalk widths from six to 14 feet on both sides of the street. Additionally, the road will become a one-way street, heading northbound only — away from Nassau Hall — and the remainder of the street will become a hybrid service lane for deliveries and parking for customers.
“There’s been a lot of delays, but they actually are still on schedule,” Purcell said. “It’s a construction project, so every time they dig a hole in the ground, they find something that we didn’t know was there. But the contractor is doing very well getting around all of the difficulties.”
While current construction has narrowed the existing pathways, Pirone Lambros said it hasn’t prevented businesses from attracting customers, and the sidewalk will be fully open soon.
“We should be getting through this quickly,” Pirone Lambros said. “And I think it’s really good that we were able to move through a slower season in the summer and get major pieces done.”
To mitigate parking concerns coming with these changes, the town is planning to offer one hour of free parking in the Spring Street garage in a push to keep Witherspoon as pedestrian-friendly as possible.
Two streets over, the construction of the Graduate Hotel is still on schedule to be completed by 2024. Until that project is completed in 18 months, however, Chambers Street will be a one-way street, also northbound.
While Councilmember Eve Niedergang said this is a welcome addition to the town, she has some concerns about the project.
“I feel like their assurances that they could keep Chambers Street two ways and then [change their] mind into the construction,” she told the ‘Prince,’ “is really a disservice to the community.”
Councilmember Mia Sacks said she is optimistic about the effects of the construction, even if it is a sore spot right now.
“When you do renovations on a house, it’s messy. It’s tough,” Sacks told the ‘Prince.’ “Everyone keeps complaining, it’s really unpleasant, you cordoned off the worksite, and you have to use a different sink and whatever else. But then you have a beautiful new kitchen or whatever it is and it’s like somehow people are missing that point.”
Pirone Lambros echoed Sacks’s enthusiasm about the changes the construction will bring to the town.
“I think that the impact of having the kind of outdoor dining and the beautiful setting and wonders for the street is kind of our central focus,” Pirone Lambros told the ‘Prince.’ “It is just going to be beautiful.”
Charlie Roth is a Staff News Writer and Assistant Data Editor for the ‘Prince’, focusing on local town coverage. He can be reached at email@example.com or @imcharlieroth on Twitter or Instagram.