Construction on Assunpink Creek Bridge on Old Trenton Road in West Windsor, NJ is forcing thousands of commuters daily to find alternate routes until the work is scheduled to conclude in December.
Affected commuters include MCCC students, staff and faculty. Commuters were given two weeks’ notice before construction on the bridge began to find alternate routes to and from their destinations.
Mercer County closed the roadway over Assunpink Creek on July 15, 2013 in order to repair the 86 year old bridge which had fallen into dangerous disrepair.
”The bridge was old and falling apart and scored 30 out of 100 because of poor deck condition during the last many years,” says Francis Guzik, Engineer at West Windsor Township Engineering Division. “The improvements we can expect when the Old Trenton Road connection reopens is a whole new bridge with additional lanes and traffic lights.”
A light will be installed at the intersection of Robinsville Rd. and Old Trenton Rd. a spot that has traditionally caused traffic jams during rush hour traffic.
When asked for comment, Mercer County Communication Director Julie Wilmot referred to a press release issued by her office on July 9, 2013 that said: “The new, widened bridge will have two 11-foot-wide through lanes, a 10-foot-wide center turn slot, two 6-foot shoulders and a 6-foot sidewalk on the north side of the bridge.”
The press release also notes upgrades to the traffic signals at the intersection of Edinburg and Windsor roads.
The County press release lists total cost of the repairs and renovations at $2,138,588.
When asked about the longer commutes and the estimated completion of the repairs, Guzik told The VOICE: ”Given the circumstances, five months inconvenience is necessary for the next 100 years of traffic. The original time for the project to be done is end of December, but we’re hoping to be done by the end of November.”
Second year Liberal Arts major and East Windsor resident Liz Guzhnay, who used the Old Trenton Road bridge daily prior to the constructions, told The VOICE: “The long detour makes me consume a lot of my time and gas. Before the roadwork it took 10 minutes to get to school, now it takes me between 20-25 minutes.”
By contrast, Lawyer David Wray from West Windsor Township spoke to the VOICE about the effect the construction has had on him saying: “It’s wonderful.” He added: “Traffic is reduced and the noise doesn’t bother me.”
Stan Mount, a mechanic who regularly visits his father in Edinburg Village said an ongoing concern for locals who live on and near the area that is being reconstructed is auto accidents.
”We’ve had about five accidents here causing property damage” says Mount. “Once a car coming east on Old Trenton Road flipped over and landed on our front yard.”
Isaac J. Taylor, who lives and works as a subtracted wood sculptor in West Windsor Township, created a petition for an entierly different revamp of the traffic flow on Old Trenton Road several years ago.
The petition stated, “A two-lane bypass with a shoulder simply would not consume that much acreage and would not diminish the open space environment to the south of Edinburg.”
The petition addressed the concerns the residents have for the traffic flow problems, as well as the future requirements of tearing down houses, should West Windsor Township decide to rebuild the original bridge without the bypass.
Taylor told The VOICE: ”I personally went from door to door every weekend, talking with every neighbor about the construction and the petition. Once they found out about the project, they were more than happy to sign the petition.”
Taylor was able to get 148 signatures on his petition from residents living on or near Old Trenton Road.
The petitioners suggested a two-lane bypass loop with a shoulder that avoided Assunpink Creek Bridge and Edinburg Village, connecting Old Trenton Road to Windsor-Edinburg Road and Robbinsville-Edinburg Road and then back to Old Trenton Road.
The proposed bypass was consistent with the locals’ safety concerns over Old Trenton Road as far back as 2008.
After receiving the petition, the Township conducted a study of the residents bypass plan. Once it was conducted, County Executives favored the project, committing a million dollars toward its completion.
The township also released another $200,000 for further study and a complete set of drawn plans for the proposed bypass. After briefly appearing on West Windsor’s Master Plan (for building projects) the bypass was removed without telling any of the residents or petitioners.
Patricia Ward, Director of Community Development at West Windsor Township, was contacted by The VOICE about the petition and the residents request for a safer village, but could not be reached for comment.
The new construction takes a different approach than what the residents petitioned for, but will certainly ease traffic congestion along a stretch of road notorious for its accidents and gridlock.
If you have any questions or concerning the construction on Old Trenton Road, call West Windsor Township Engineering Division at 609-799-9396 or send them an email through their web page www.westwindsornj.org.
Sept. 24, 2013 – This article contains changes from the original print edition. The construction started on July 15, 2013, not on January 15,2013 as originally reported in print. The change was made on the third paragraph.