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Plans for gas line upgrades announced at Town Council meeting

<h5>Construction continues on Witherspoon Street, with half the street blocked off.</h5>
<h6>Candace Do / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Construction continues on Witherspoon Street, with half the street blocked off.
Candace Do / The Daily Princetonian

Construction on gas lines throughout Princeton town will begin in January, including on Nassau Street and in Palmer Square.

Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) presented these updates at the Oct. 24 meeting of the Princeton Town Council. Twelve miles of pipeline will be upgraded across 70 streets, causing construction to occur sporadically throughout the year.

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This proposal comes amid many construction projects close to and on campus, including renovations to Witherspoon Street between Nassau Street and Green Street, which is scheduled to be completed in November, and the new Graduate Hotel, which is set to be completed in 2024

Representatives from PSE&G said these replacements need to take place now because funding received from the New Jersey Board of Utilities will expire at the end of 2023.

Princeton was chosen for this state-wide project because of its aging infrastructure, with some gas lines dating back to 1940, which were noted by the PSE&G as “critical.” According to slides presented in the meeting, the replacements will reduce leaks and methane emissions, in addition to decreasing consumer costs and increasing safety.

A specific timeline of the areas that will be under construction in town is not available yet, according to an email sent to The Daily Princetonian by Lauren Ugorji, a senior communications consultant for PSE&G.

However, the work will be done at night to mitigate traffic concerns, and the amount of time over which it will be completed will vary depending on “weather and customer availability,” according to Ugorji. After the initial pipe work, the roads will be temporarily repaired for 45 to 90 days before the final paving is done.

Municipal engineer Deanna Stockton detailed the timeline for the construction in an interview with the ‘Prince.’

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“It's not a consistent construction process where there’s construction activity every day,” she said. 

“We've been told that the gas main replacement takes place over about three months,” Stockton explained. “The services take three months as well, and then there's a period of time when all of the excavations have a chance to settle. Then they come back later on and do the final pavement restoration. It’s all spread across the year of 2023.”

There was some pushback from the council given the many concurrent construction projects, but the renovation was approved nonetheless.

“In the whole town, there's a feeling of massive disruption,” Councilmember Mia Sacks said during the meeting. “So when I saw that this was coming down the pike, I felt that this would be the breaking point.” 

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After the PSE&G presentation, the council took another step toward completing Witherspoon Street construction between Nassau and Witherspoon, unanimously codifying the parking and loading zone plans for Witherspoon Street post-construction, which are set to go into effect on Nov. 23.

The plans include free street parking for 30 minutes, with Councilmember David Cohen clarifying during the meeting that “whatever the cost [of offering free parking] is, it’s less than the cost that we charged for parking. We would have lost money if we had charged for the parking, just by the nature of the system.”

Finally, the Council approved plans for a new dog park at Quarry Park, near the University’s E-Quad.

The full meeting can be viewed here. The Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Charlie Roth is a staff News writer and assistant Data editor for the ‘Prince,’ focusing on local town coverage. Please direct any corrections requests to corrections@dailyprincetonian.com.

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