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East Brunswick bike pathway project in preliminary engineering phase

EAST BRUNSWICK–Seeking to further expand connectivity for bicycle riders, the East Brunswick Township Council learned about the Dunhams Corner Road Bikeway Project’s current status.

Director of Planning and Engineering Keith Kipp informed the council on Aug. 12 about the history and current status of the project.

“The overall project is a critical connector. It’s a multi-use path between Crystal Springs Aquatic Center and Heavenly Farms Park and as everyone knows those are two critical recreational components of the town and we really want to link those together,” Kipp said.

In 2012, Kipp said the township received a federal grant for the project; however, it was a rigorous process going through all of the federal requirements.

“We weren’t getting a lot of help from the DOT [New Jersey Department of Transportation] and some other agencies,” Kipp said. “After two years of going through the process, we were almost concerned that maybe this grant [was] not worth all the trouble we were having to install this bike path and perhaps we should do it on our own.”

Shortly after that, Kipp said he believes DOT realized that many municipalities throughout the state are having similar problems and they were giving back federal money, which is not a good thing when it is for capital improvements in the state.

“So [the DOT] developed what’s called the Design Assistance Program where they had a list of qualified engineering firms who would go through all the phases of the federal requirements and they would pay for this engineer firm’s design,” Kipp said. “So once the town heard of this, we got into the program and our project was then fast-tracked, [which] was in 2014.”

Kipp said that with the township’s approved design firm, CME Associates, the council entered into a contract with the DOT in 2018.

Michael Troncone, project manager for CME Associates, who also spoke during the presentation, explained that currently they are in the preliminary engineering phase of the project.

As of today, the township already has bike path lanes located along Hardenburg Lane and Dunhams Corner Road, which was unveiled by Mayor Brad Cohen in late 2018.

Troncone said the newly proposed project includes a 10-foot wide bike path from Heavenly Farms to Crystal Springs Waterpark. The bike path will be 20 feet off of the edge of the existing roadway and it will be for two-way traffic.

“Once we finish the preliminary engineering phase we will be going into the final phase,” Troncone said. “Under the preliminary engineering phase of the job, we do all of the environmental studies and delineations and assess impacts.”

Troncone said the bike path will be placed on a bridge, which is owned by the county, and has a barrier separating the vehicular traffic from the bike path traffic.

“The bridge is going to get a new deck, and parapets, which are the side parts of the bridge, are going to be get replaced. Part of the project also includes putting in a stormwater management facility along the roadway,” Troncone said. “Right now there are some deep ditches that are on the side of the road so we are going to fill those ditches in. We are going to put in a drainage system along the roadway.”

Kipp said the hope is for construction to begin next spring/summer.

“What we have to realize is that we are actually making a bad situation better here because people do bike along that road continually. Adding something is better than having nothing and the fact that we did get federal grants to help us do this work is a tremendous thing,” Council Vice President James Wendell said.

With the proposed bike path going  along the road where Clark Farms is located, Councilman Kevin McEvoy asked Kipp if he had been in contact with the farm’s owners.

“For farmers land is sacred and so when it comes to negotiating with these people, I hope that you will bend to every one of their wishes but at the same token I understand the value of the bike path for everyone in the community,” McEvoy said.

Kipp said he has been in contact with the owners and is working to come to an agreement they are comfortable with.

For more information, visit www.eastbrunswick.org/content/202/283/1195.aspx or call 732-390-6797.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.

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