The New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced a multi-stage years-long process to develop plans and construct improvements to Cranbury Circle.
The Cranbury Circle intersection involves Route 130, Middlesex County County Road 539 (North Main Street) and Cranbury Turnpike, as well as Wyckoff Mill Road.
South Main Street and Brick Yard Road are the roadways in Cranbury affected by the improvements.
The project is currently in the concept develop phase and will cost more than $1.3 million. DOT estimates that preliminary engineering will occur for the project in 2021-22 with final design of improvements developed in 2023-25. Construction would begin and finish through 2026-27, if no delays arise.
The reason for the improvements is to improve safety at Cranbury Circle, according to information released by the DOT. DOT points to the significant traffic volumes, existing geometry of the circle, a high speed limit on Route 130 and skewed roadway approaches as prime conditions for vehicle crashes that exceed statewide averages.
“Honestly, it could be lifesaving. After reviewing the DOT’s report with alarming accident rates back in 2014-16 when volumes were lower, I can understand the concern and sense of urgency to prioritize this,” Township Committeewoman Evelyn Spann said.
From 2014-16 there were 94 total crash incidents in the circle, according to a presentation by DOT, which included crash data provided by the Cranbury Police Department.
For the concept of the project the state has selected a preliminary preferred alternative (PPA), which would realign Brick Yard Road to intersect North Main Street at a 90 degree angle 700 feet south of the circle, which would occur in two phases, and install traffic metering signals along Route 130 northbound and southbound before the circle.
“Relocating Brickyard Road is a must and adding two traffic metering stops will give motorist confidence they will get a break and no need to take any risks getting across,” Spann said. “Also, this alternative can begin immediately – which in government terms means within the next five years. I support the project and hope it gets through all of the approvals.”
Additional improvements include widening of shoulder width at the intersection, widening of North Main Street approaching the proposed intersection with the realignment of Brick Yard Road, and a stormwater management basin within the infield of the circle, according to DOT.
“Cranbury Circle has been on every township committee’s radar and agenda to get fixed for the last 50 years. We came close in the ’80s and early ’90s to getting it done, but there was opposition from residents to the plan that resulted in the DOT pulling back and deciding to invest money elsewhere,” Township Committeeman Jay Taylor said. “The circle has been brought to our attention from a safety perspective from all of our first responders over the years.”
Taylor credited former Mayor and Township Committeeman David Cook’s previous work in pushing for a plan and revision to DOT in addressing Cranbury Circle and stated that he is worried about the project being pulled at the last minute.
Cranbury and DOT officials have encouraged residents to provide comments by email to the state agency to take part in the feedback process of the project.
“With feedback any project has the opportunity to improve. Our volunteer fire squad serves accident after accident at the circle,” Spann said. “I am sure their voice would be useful.”
Additional information on the project can be found on the Cranbury Township website.