Proposed Changes to Clarksville / North Post Intersection

Saturday, March 30 by JerryFoster

The WWBPA has long been concerned about safety along Clarksville Rd, especially after a pedestrian was seriously injured while walking his dog at the intersection of North Post Road, near the municipal complex. Mercer County’s proposed changes (pictured) partly address and partly heighten these concerns, and should be remedied to make all legs of the intersection safer.

Following up on our letter to the county supporting the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s recommendations contained in their corridor study, Taming Traffic, we recently followed up with the following letter to the Mercer County Freeholders:

Dear Freeholders,

I am writing regarding the upcoming ordinance on the intersection of Clarksville and North Post Roads in West Windsor. As a citizen living very close to this intersection I observe the daily interactions of vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles. As a trustee of The West Windsor Pedestrian and Bicycle Alliance I am concerned with all aspects of safe streets for pedestrians and bicyclists and want the County as well as the Township to remain committed to Complete Streets planning for safe bicycle routes everywhere.

The plans for North Post Road are very troubling. Heading south towards Conover, unlike all the other intersection approaches, there are three lanes of vehicle traffic instead of two.

My concern is safety for children and adults crossing this portion of the intersection heading to the Mercer County Library, Municipal Building, Senior Center and Post Office. This crosswalk is heavily used by pedestrians and the increase of vehicle lanes to four across is extremely unsafe for pedestrians, and there is no safe lane for bikes.

The second area of concern is the north side of the intersection on North Post Road. The plan shows a 17 foot lane with no provision for a separate bicycle lane, or even a shoulder. There is more than enough room for a vehicle lane as well as a bicycle lane, and this heavily used part of our town needs to have that bicycle lane marked. North Post Road is a popular route to and from the Municipal Complex and County Library and to and from the train station as well as the very popular Farmers Market.

The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance sent a letter in September 2012, supporting changes to this intersection as described in the 2007 report from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (“Taming Traffic” p.38; diagram p.37). We strongly request you follow through with improving the safety here by following that plan (which does not include any separate right turn only lane).

Clarksville Road divides our community in two if traffic taming measures are not implemented. We need safe complete streets especially around our schools and libraries.

Unfortunately, I will be out of town for the March 28th meeting or would be there for the public hearing. I am asking for you to approve an ordinance with the safety of pedestrians in mind. A four lane road is not a safe road to cross.

Thank you in advance for your consideration in this matter.

Sincerely,
Kathleen Brennan
WWPBA Trustee

Please contact our officials with your support for making the Clarksville and North Post intersection safer for everyone – motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

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Proposed Route 571 Main Street Design Unsafe

Tuesday, September 13 by JerryFoster

571/Wallace-Cranbury morning commute 2The WWBPA responded to the county’s proposed CR 571 Main Street design recently, maintaining that it is unsafe for everyone: motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike. In the past 10 years, two pedestrians were killed on this stretch of roadway (2004 and 2005), while no motorists were killed.  A 17-year-old motorist was killed in 2006, however, just west of downtown Princeton Junction, when she lost control of her car on the curve coming off the bridge over the train tracks.

The proposed wider-straighter-faster design does nothing to address these safety issues. Instead, it preserves the current 45mph design speed and 40mph posted speed limit. Drivers don’t respect crosswalks when they have to slow from high speed, and the proposed design does nothing to provide pedestrian refuges in the center of the roadway to promote safe crossing.

Rt 571 Concept Illustration

The design also features a new two-way center left turn lane (TWLTL) that studies have shown to be unsafe; AARP calls them “suicide lanes.” One study even showed that artificially lowering the posted speed limit, but not the design speed, caused an increase in crashes.

Picture 7

Here’s a picture of Hamilton’s SR 33 that most resembles what is planned. The 45mph design speed is simply not appropriate for the pedestrian friendly Main Street that our Redevelopment Plan envisions. A survey of other Mercer County towns shows that Princeton, Lawrenceville, Hightstown, Hopewell and Pennington all have 25 – 30mph speed limits on their Main Streets. Why not in West Windsor?

The WWBPA is not just opining, and we’re not just complaining – our response, and our recommendations based on the December 2009 Public Review, are founded on research and guidelines from the New Jersey Department of Transportation. We are recommending constructive, Complete Streets alternatives to remedy the safety issues and make a Main Street that we can all be proud of.

The current design shows why Mercer County should adopt a Complete Streets policy to complement the state and West Windsor township policies – our transportation network needs jurisdictions with consistent policies to benefit our taxpayers.

Thanks to everyone who has gotten involved to support our position! We appreciate all of you who have signed our petition at the Farmers’ Market, or who have contacted the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, which recently conducted public outreach on this and other federally-funded projects.

More help is needed. Please contact our public officials to support our position. With a lower design speed and pedestrian refuges, our senior residents can cross Route 571 safely to the new Rite Aid, and our children can cross Route 571 safely to the new ex-Acme shopping center, as well as to the high school. And our teenage drivers should be able to keep control of their vehicles when going more slowly. Everyone benefits.

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Public Comment Needed on Route 571 Main Street Project

Wednesday, June 22 by JerryFoster

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) is putting out the New Jersey  federal transportation improvement projects for comment, including the Route 571 project between Clarksville and Cranbury roads. You can find details here:

The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance’s recommendations for the project are here:

The current design calls for adding a center left turn lane, sidewalks and a bicycle-compatible shoulder, maintaining the existing design speed (45mph).

The problem is that the combination of same design speed, the additional center turn lane and roadway widening, but no pedestrian refuges halfway across the road will make it harder, not easier, to cross the street.

Essentially, there will be 30% more cars to dodge when crossing, which will be going faster than today, since they wouldn’t have to slow down for left-turning vehicles (which will be in the new center turn lane).

In our view, Route 571 is already too hard to cross, and this design will make it worse. Please join us in adding your comments to the DVRPC by following the instructions on their web page.

The stated goals are for a bicycle and pedestrian friendly main street, but the design details do not support the goals, according to the NJDOT Smart Transportation Guidebook. On the plus side, the recommended changes will save money and most importantly give us a Main Street we can be proud of, while still increasing  capacity.

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