Pennington officials push back on transportation plan for BeiGene modules
Pennington officials are not happy with a proposed plan focused on transporting building modules for BeiGene’s construction of its new Hopewell facility.
The biotechnology company that specializes in developing drugs for cancer treatments plans to transport prefabricated building modules for two planned buildings designed for drug substance and product from I-295 to the Route 31 circle then through Pennington before reaching the former Bristol Myers Squibb Campus.
“The way I’m looking at this is we are going to gain more traffic. You are disrupting our community,” Councilman Charles Marciante said.
The Pennington Council and public were informed on the transportation plan by Mark Kataryniak, engineering consultant for Ferriero Engineering and Hopewell Township redevelopment engineer, at a Council meeting on May 1.
“What is BeiGene going to do for Pennington, what contribution are we going to get for all this disruption that is what I want to know,” Marciante added. “Hopewell Township is sitting here picking cherries and we are in here suffering.”
The proposed transport of 235 building modules includes heading from the circle through North Main Street and West Delaware Avenue in Pennington to the company’s construction site for a new manufacturing and clinical research facility at the Princeton West Innovation Campus in Hopewell.
“It does not make any sense to me at all. They want to save money by constructing off-site, making it bigger than it has to be to transport, and then moving it through a town and disrupting the town to save money,” Councilman John Valenza said.
“They also want to save money by taking the shorter route. That does not mean anything to me. We are not going to get any taxes from this.”
Six of the 235 trailers are supermax trailers. Due to the weight of those containers and building modules they need to be transported on oversized vehicles.
According to draft documents, BeiGene chose this option because the transport route was shorter with less turns that reduce the time of transport and impact to traffic; and had fewer critical turns with less clearance restrictions.
As part of the plan, Bay Crane, which was the company contracted by BeiGene for the transports, is recommending that three on-street parking spaces southbound on Main Street be restricted for better maneuverability during those transport operation times.
“We have been objecting to this route for like eight months and we have just been getting ignored,” Council President Kit Chandler said.
The second option that was also developed would have the transports going onto Blackwell Road at the Route 31 circle to Route 206 and Carter Road through Lawrence Township, from there turning onto Elm Ridge Road before arriving at BeiGene’s construction site on Pennington Rocky Hill Road.
Transportation of the modules is expected to start in early June and go through September, according to draft documents.
On whether Pennington has any jurisdiction in approving or declining the plan, which was raised by Councilwoman Nadine Stern, Kataryniak said “no”.
“This builder has been working with the state. They have obtained their permits from the NJDOT (New Jersey Department of Transportation) to transport along this route,” Kataryniak added. “All of the roads they have selected are county roads and state highways, so the municipalities [Hopewell Township, Lawrence Township and Pennington] have no jurisdiction on the roads with respect to these transports.”
Kataryniak said he has limited the overall duration of the operation for the developer including imposed delivery time limits.
“We have since worked with them to cut the duration down by transporting four modules in three time periods a day storing more on site,” he said. “They are able to cut that duration down to a matter of three months June through August, so that it minimizes disruption through that area.”
Mayor James Davy urged Kataryniak to inform BeiGene that they are opposed to the plan to bring the modular units through Pennington.
“And I think because they are having problems maybe they should kill their modular development and build a traditional construction approach. But, not through Pennington,” he said.