BeiGene: Pennington route ‘makes sense’

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, along with local and county officials signed their names on final beam for BeiGene's new center at "topping off" ceremony in Hopewell on March 21.

BeiGene officials explain transportation route, open to further discussion with officials

A preliminary transportation option through Pennington for building modules specific to BeiGene’s new Hopewell facility construction is still seen by company representatives as the route that makes the “most sense”.

John Halliwell, BeiGene senior director and head of U.S. Government Affairs & Policy, said there are only two routes for the transportation of 235 buildings modules to facility construction at the Princeton West Innovation Campus in a Hopewell Township Committee meeting on May 15.

The first route option is being called the Pennington route. Bay Crane, the company contracted by BeiGene, will transport the prefabricated building modules from I-295 at the exit for Route 31. The exit has to occur due to low bridge clearances on I-295.

“The route that takes the transports northbound on Route 31, essentially up to Tree Farm Village, turns right onto North Main Street through Pennington and then left on East Delaware Avenue to Pennington Rocky Hill Road and then turning into the site,” said Mark Kataryniak, engineering consultant for Ferriero Engineering and Hopewell Township redevelopment engineer.

According to Kataryniak, the route for Option 1 consists of 5.8 miles and 20 to 30 minutes on local roads. The Pennington option would have three intersections requiring turns.

“When you read through this and hear what others have to say this is the route that makes the most sense,” Halliwell said. “We are looking at a maximum of five minutes for interference one-time during the day in this [intersection in Pennington]. There are going to be these big trucks coming through, but they will not be here forever.”

The second option would also travel north on Route 31, but when it reaches the Route 31 circle the transport would turn right onto Blackwell Road.

“Then extend onto Pennington Lawrenceville Road to Route 206 to Carter Road to Elm Ridge Road through Lawrence Township. It takes a much more [longer] route,” Kataryniak said.

They looked at the lengths of the routes and individually the number.

“While Option 1 has three turns on its route, the second route has five. While that number is not too far apart these turns are critical,” Kataryniak added.

Because the transport trucks are unable to stay within the confines of the painted lanes on the roadways the transports need police escorts, so the police can temporarily stop inbound traffic at the intersection allowing the transport all of the physical space needed at the intersection to achieve the turns.

“The less turn the better, because with each turn it is a slow-moving operation and even though each one takes a few minutes it is more disruptive to traffic. The second [option] has additional intersections and some of those turns are tighter turns,” Kataryniak said.

The plan is to ship all four modules each day in one convoy to minimize the impact on communities and gather with their escorts between 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. each day, according to Bay Crane’s base plan.

Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski said part of the reason for the presentation of the transportation routes for the building modules was to address misinformation.

Because the routes are on state highways and county roads, Kuchinski noted that this is “not a local decision” on deciding the route.

“This is not a yes/no question. BeiGene has the right to transport these oversized modules regardless of what the community feels,” he said. “One area where the Township Committee can have an impact is not on a yes/no. It is about making sure there are smart choices being made as it goes to the route and duration.”

The presentation follows concerns and pushback raised by Pennington Mayor James Davy and Council members concerns and pushback at a meeting on May 1.

Halliwell said the biotechnology company, which specializes in developing drugs for cancer treatments, has offered to discuss the situation with officials from impacted communities including Hopewell Township, Pennington and Lawrence on any matters including the routes.

“That offer is always open,” he said.

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