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Construction on Witherspoon Street isn’t finished — not by a long shot.

Witherspoon sees construction delays, more projects planned

Construction on Witherspoon Street near Hinds Plaza and the Princeton Public Library.
Zehao Wu / The Daily Princetonian

Witherspoon Street, which runs perpendicular to Nassau Street across from FitzRandolph gate, has been under construction for more than a year. The Witherspoon Street Improvement Project is meant to make the road more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists. In an interview with The Daily Princetonian, Assistant Municipal Engineer Jim Purcell described a series of upcoming projects along the entire length of the street, which runs through the heart of Princeton.

Closest to the University is the section of Witherspoon Street between Nassau Street and Spring Street, home to businesses frequented by students such as Small World Coffee and Junbi. The construction on this stretch, which began in the fall, will widen the sidewalks from six to 14 feet and turn the section of the street into a northbound one-way, leading away from FitzRandolph Gate.


According to Purcell, this stage of construction is supposed to be finished by Mar. 3. Earlier estimates from members of the Princeton Town Council had projected the current phase of construction on Witherspoon Street, across from FitzRandolph gate project to be finished by “late October or early November” of last year.

Purcell explained that these delays are commonplace. “I would say that 90% of the time on infrastructure projects, there are going to be delays,” he said. “As soon as you put a shovel in the ground, you never know what you're going to find underneath, no matter how much pre-construction research and inspections and investigations are done.” 

In addition, Purcell described a series of other projects further down Witherspoon Street, such sidewalk renovations up to Green Street, a new curb ramp near Hinds Plaza, and a new traffic light at the intersection with Paul Robeson Place.

“Everything is proposed to be done by the middle of May,” he said.

These renovations up to Green Street comprise the first phase of the town’s plan to revamp and repair the entirety of Witherspoon Street. The second phase of the project will run from Green Street to Leigh Avenue, where “we hope to start construction before Apr. 1,” said Purcell. The third phase, going all the way to Valley Road, is expected to start in 2024.

In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Town Councilmember David Cohen described the construction projects as “rebalancing our public rights of way to serve all users — not just drivers, but also pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and customers of adjacent businesses.”


In the most recent Town Council meeting, the University shared its campus mobility plan which included introducing bike sharing, and the council voted to reduce the speed limit over the entirety of Witherspoon Street to 20 mph.

According to Purcell, the New Jersey Department of Transportation also has its own construction project slated to start on Feb. 28 for the intersection of Witherspoon Street and Nassau Street, also known as Route 27. Improvements include a new traffic light with a pedestrian phase signal and extended sidewalks to make pedestrian crossings shorter.

While the construction may cause frustration for some, “it is something we hope to only do every few decades,” Mayor Mark Freda wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “Ignoring the work that needs to be done would lead to larger problems and even more disruptions.”

Purcell expressed a similar sentiment about the importance of the work. “Witherspoon Street is the municipal main street. It's the heart and soul of Princeton,” he said.

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Miriam Waldvogel is an Assistant News Editor for thePrince.’

Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]