A Safer Bit of Route 571

Finally, this intersection along Route 571 is being made safer.

The intersection of Route 571/Princeton-Hightstown Road, Wallace Road and Cranbury Road, one of the busiest intersections in West Windsor and the site where a pedestrian wearing a reflective vest was struck by a car last month, will become safer for those trying to cross the street. This is great news and comes two years after the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance highlighted the safety problems there and made a number of recommendations.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation is in the final design phase of improvements that will include marked crosswalks and pedestrian countdown signals at every corner. Lighting at the intersection will be brought up to code, if it isn’t already meeting the requirements.

A sidewalk also will be added from the northwest corner (by the school bus depot) along the bridge to Washington Road, where a pedestrian crossing across Washington Road will be added. NJDOT also intends to add a left turn lane off the railroad bridge, which will eliminate what some pedestrians use as a refuge island.

NJDOT intends to do the work in the spring or early summer of 2010 and says that funding is secure. (This is being paid for through federal pedestrian-safety funds.) It has decided not to wait for improvements promised by Rite-Aid, which is going back to the zoning board for permission to make some changes to its plans.

The WWBPA was often told that this was a particularly difficult intersection because it involved Township, Mercer County and state jurisdictions. That the three entities have worked out a plan shows how the WWBPA can bring people together to find solutions.

While we are pleased with the planned 2010 improvements by the NJDOT, in our view they do not address all needed improvements to this gateway to West Windsor. Other improvements to the main street Princeton Junction area (along Route 571 from Cranbury/Wallace Roads to Clarksville Road) are now under review as part of a long-term project that includes the intersection at Cranbury/Wallace Road. To that end, we are in the process of drafting recommendations that consider the usage context of the roadway (i.e., with Route 571 as West Windsor?s main street). Context is critical because it drives the choice of design features that work together to impact safety. Based on these considerations, WWBPA recommendations for this road segment include:

  • Lowering the desired operating speed, supported by roadway design elements, not just a lower posted speed.
  • Adding bike lanes per the Township Master Plan.
  • Strengthening the design cues to drivers when entering the main street gateways (e.g., by reducing the posted speed limit in the transition areas leading to the gateways to 35mph, reducing to one through-travel lane before the gateways).

One Response to “A Safer Bit of Route 571”

  1. Ikons694 says:

    The problem with lowering the speed from South Mill Road is that even though the appropriate speed might be lower during the day due to congestion, its often higher at night and thats when the police camp out and try to stop ‘speeders’ when they are just driving at a reasonable speed for the conditions.

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