Alexander Street could open by end of month after three bridge replacement projects

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Alexander Street, which has been closed since November 2019 for three bridge replacement projects, is expected to open by the end of April.

The target date to reopen the road was April 20, but underground utility work that needs to be completed has delayed the project, Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton told the Princeton Council at its April 6 meeting.

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One of the bridges crosses the Delaware & Raritan Canal and is maintained by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

Mercer County maintains two bridges – one that crosses Stony Brook and another one that crosses Alexander Creek. The bridge over the Stony Brook was installed in 1989 and was intended to be a temporary replacement for an older bridge.

All three bridges were in poor condition. There had been occasional road closures for emergency repairs to the bridge that crosses the Delaware & Raritan Canal, so it was decided to replace the three bridges simultaneously.

Stockton said she had received emails from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and Mercer County Engineer George Fallat, offering status updates of the bridge replacement projects.

In his April 1 email to Stockton, Fallat wrote that PSE&G expects to complete the natural gas main tie-in work by April 13. When that work has been completed, the county’s contractor can finalize drainage and curbing work and pave the street and the bridge, he wrote.

“We continue to coordinate closely with NJDOT’s contractor as well as PSE&G to ensure Alexander Street can be fully open to traffic as soon as possible, which now appears to be closer to the end of April,” Fallat wrote.

The bridge over the Delaware & Raritan Canal, which is maintained by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, will be wider than the existing one that was built in 1948. It will have two 12-foot-wide travel lanes for cars, two 5-foot-wide shoulders and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk.

The two Mercer County bridges also will be wider than the ones they replace. They will also have two 12-foot-wide travel lanes, two 5-foot-wide shoulders and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk.

To expedite the work, the Mercer County bridges were partially constructed off-site. The sections were brought to the job site and placed on top of the concrete footings.

Since Alexander Street was closed in November 2019, detours have been set up. The main detour in Princeton for drivers traveling east on Alexander Street is to turn left onto Faculty Road and then turn right onto Washington Road to reach Route 1.

In West Windsor, drivers who want to reach Princeton have been directed onto Route 1 to Washington Road. They may continue on Washington Road into Princeton, or they may turn left onto Faculty Road to reach Alexander Street.

The timing of the bridge replacement projects was dictated by environmental considerations.

Work on the bridges was banned between May 1 and July 31 to protect warm water fish in Stony Brook and Alexander Creek to prevent sediment form washing down into the two creeks.

Also, trees that were at least six inches in diameter at breast height could not be cut down between April 1 and Sept. 30 because of the presence of the Indiana bat, which is a federally endangered species.

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