Princeton honored for first phase of Witherspoon Street redesign project

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The Witherspoon Street Phase I redesign project was awarded the 2023 Project of the Year by the Professional Engineers Society of Mercer County at its 62nd annual awards banquet Feb. 24.

Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton announced the award at the Princeton Council’s Feb. 26 meeting.

The first phase of the multi-phase Witherspoon Street redesign project was completed in June 2023. Work is underway on the redesign of the remainder of Witherspoon Street.

Phase I of the Witherspoon Street improvement project transformed the first block of Witherspoon Street – between Nassau Street and Spring Street – from a vehicle-oriented roadway to a pedestrian-friendly street.

The 40-foot-wide street was redesigned to create a 12-foot-wide roadway and widened sidewalks on both sides of the street. Asphalt was removed from the roadway and the concrete sidewalks were also torn up.

Decorative pavers were installed in the street and on the sidewalk, which was widened to allow outdoor dining by patrons who visit the restaurants that line Witherspoon Street. The roadway is wide enough for one lane of traffic plus a service lane for deliveries and short-term parking.

Traffic calming measures included a raised mid-block crosswalk and a curb extension at Spring Street that makes it easier for pedestrians to cross Witherspoon Street.

A new traffic signal with an all-pedestrian-crossing phase was installed at Witherspoon Street and Wiggins Street. When it is activated, traffic stops simultaneously on Witherspoon Street, Paul Robeson Place and Wiggins Street. Pedestrians can cross directly or on the diagonal.

Landscaping also was revised. The Bradford pears that lined Witherspoon Street were cut down and replaced with a diverse mix of pest- and climate-resilient trees.

Stockton, the municipal engineer, thanked the Princeton Council for its support for the Witherspoon Street redesign project.

“I want to thank the Princeton Council for its continued commitment to reimagining our rights-of-way, the commitment to Complete Streets and for opening up our roadways to more than just vehicular uses,” Stockton said.

The redesign of Witherspoon Street will be carried out in additional phases. The project is continuing north toward the intersection of Witherspoon Street and Valley Road.