Rosedale Road Safe Routes to School engineering contract awarded

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Aiming to make it safer for children to walk or ride their bicycles to the Johnson Park School, the Princeton Council has awarded a contract for preliminary engineering designs to improve the existing paths on Rosedale Road.

The Princeton Council awarded a contract for $303,140 to engineering consultant NV5 to draw up the preliminary engineering plans at its Oct. 26 meeting, the first step in implementing the town’s latest Safe Routes to School grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

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Princeton received a $1 million state grant for improvements to the asphalt paths on Rosedale Road and to make improvements to the intersection of Rosedale Road and General Johnson Drive, which leads to the Johnson Park School.

The town will be reimbursed for up to $295,115 of the cost of NV5’s engineering contract by the Federal Highway Administration.

The existing asphalt path on the north side of Rosedale Road, between Elm Road and Christopher Drive, varies from 6 to 7 feet in width. It is too narrow to accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists. The proposal is to widen the path to 8-10 feet to make room for both pedestrians and bicyclists.

The town’s initial Safe Routes to School grant application also sought to install a traffic signal at the intersection of Rosedale Road and General Johnson Drive, but the New Jersey Department of Transportation denied it. Traffic signals must be approved by the state agency.

“At this point, we do not seem to meet the warrant for a full traffic signal, but we are endeavoring to find some sort of active traffic control device to be used at the General Johnson Drive intersection,” Stockton told the Princeton Council.

One possibility is a HAWK signal, Stockton said. It is one step above the push-button rectangular yellow flashing beacons that help pedestrians to cross the street, she said.

A HAWK signal is a push-button device to stop motorists so that pedestrians and bicyclists can safely cross the street. When the button is pushed, a flashing yellow light is activated to warn oncoming motorists. After a few seconds, a second light turns red to stop motorists and to allow for pedestrians or bicyclists to cross the street.

The HAWK device is not covered by the grant, so Princeton would have to pay for it out of its capital funds account, Stockton said.

Once the preliminary design phase is completed – most likely in the second half of 2021 – the project will move into the final design and construction phase, Stockton said.

“We are just very excited that we are moving ahead,” Stockton said.

Mayor Liz Lempert said she was pleased the project is moving forward.

There are “quite a few” children who live close enough to ride their bicycle or walk to school, but who cannot do so because of the intersection of Rosedale Road and General Johnson Drive, Lempert said.

“I think this is a really important and exciting project,” she said.

The Rosedale Road project is Princeton’s second Safe Routes to School grant.

The town received a grant to make improvements to the existing traffic signals on N. Harrison Street at Hamilton Avenue and N. Harrison Street at Franklin Avenue. The project was completed earlier this year.

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