Witherspoon Street corridor improvements shared by residents

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Install an “all pedestrian crossing” traffic light at Witherspoon and Wiggins streets, like the one on Nassau Street at Vandeventer Avenue.

Close off Witherspoon Street between Nassau Street and Spring Street for pedestrians and bicyclists only.

Build a center median on Witherspoon Street with green infrastructure.

Those were some of the suggestions made at an open house for residents so they could share their ideas and visions for improvements to Witherspoon Street. The Feb. 13 open house was held by Princeton’s engineering and planning departments.

The neighborhood meeting, held at Monument Hall, was sparked by a $610,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to pave a portion of Witherspoon Street and to make other improvements.

The improvements range from new curbs and sidewalks to updated street lighting, road repaving and new street trees. Streetscape improvements, such as benches, bicycle racks and bicycle corrals, are included.

Improvements to the traffic signal at Witherspoon Street and Wiggins Street and Paul Robeson Place also could be made.

“We are launching a community outreach about what you want to see on Witherspoon Street and Hinds Plaza (next to the Princeton Public Library),” Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton told the attendees.

“We want to get feedback about what works and what doesn’t work on Witherspoon Street,” Stockton said. The engineering and planning departments will consider residents’ input in designing the improvements, Stockton said.

Attendees were not shy about making suggestions. They wrote their comments on Post-it notes and stuck them on the panoramic photograph of Witherspoon Street – from Nassau Street to Valley Road – that was taped to the wall in the meeting room.

Some of the attendees asked for the utility lines to be buried underground, while others wrote on their note cards that the sidewalks were too narrow. One attendee suggested a permanent stage for performers on Hinds Plaza.

The first phase of the project, for which the town received the $610,000 state grant, will be limited to Witherspoon Street between Nassau Street and Green Street, Stockton said. Improvements to the rest of Witherspoon Street will be made over time.

Meanwhile, Princeton officials will continue to seek residents’ input through surveys and other outreach efforts between now and April. They will take the information and prepare schematic design drawings for the length of Witherspoon Street.

The next step is to prepare construction plans for Witherspoon Street, between Nassau Street and Green Street. The project will be put out to bid, and a contract is expected to be awarded by the Princeton Council not later than March 2021, Stockton said.

Once the contract has been awarded, there may be additional meetings with residents and business owners in the affected area to discuss construction logistics, she said. Work is expected to begin in the spring or summer of 2021, Stockton said.