WW pushed to denounce Penns Neck Route 1 plan

Council president says a letter to the state transportation department will be forthcoming.

By: Shanay Cadette
   WEST WINDSOR — The state Department of Transportation’s $65 million Penns Neck area roadway plan completely ignores the needs of West Windsor residents, former Township Council member Rae Roeder told the council Monday.
   While the DOT’s preferred alternative to the Millstone Bypass will likely not force Washington Road residents to move, it offers no remedies for traffic and flooding, critics say.
   It’s for that reason, and others, that Ms. Roeder implored the council to denounce the plan in a letter to the DOT.
   "We are allowed as a municipality to make comments on that report and I suggest that we do so," said Ms. Roeder, who lives on Washington Road. "You do have alternatives. This is not something that is a fait accompli."
   The alternative, unveiled last month after years of study and debate, includes Route 1 in a below-grade underpass of Washington Road, but leaves out the east-side connector road many West Windsor residents strongly supported. That proposed road would have linked Route 571 near the Northeast Corridor railroad bridge to Route 1 near Harrison Street, cutting through the Sarnoff Corp. property as it paralleled the course of the Millstone River.
   It could be a decade or even more before the project gets under way, according to DOT Assistant Commissioner F. Howard Zahn, who spoke at the plan’s unveiling last month.
   Anything can happen in 10 years, Ms. Roeder said, and that’s why the council should be involved in the process. She also told the council she and other Washington Road residents may consider legal action against the decision, since they don’t feel enough West Windsor residents had a real say about the roadway plan.
   Just because officials aired their comments to the press, that doesn’t mean the DOT understands the township’s position, Ms. Roeder continued, adding that if the township pursues a legal case, Township Attorney Michael J. Herbert would be barred from providing advice.
   Mr. Herbert is also the attorney for Princeton Borough. Many Princeton residents and officials opposed the east-side connector and hailed the DOT’s alternative plan.
   Mr. Herbert affirmed he would have a conflict of interest if such a legal case arose.
   Council President Kristin Appelget noted that if the township decides to pursue a legal case, officials would get another attorney to handle the issue.
   As for a formal letter to the DOT, Ms. Appelget assured Ms. Roeder that members would contribute to a document that would be written "sooner rather than later."
   Also Monday, the council:
   • Awarded a contract to Greenleaf Landscape Systems & Services Inc. to maintain township properties. The township received four bids. Greenleaf’s base bid is $144,600.
   • Released percentages of performance bonds or cash posted for various projects. Bohler Engineering Inc., Princeton Development Group Inc., West Windsor Plaza Associates and Clark Plaza requested the full or partial releases.
   • Approved an agreement with Foveonics Imaging Technologies Inc. and Storage Engine Inc. to scan planning, zoning, tax collector and architectural documents into a laser fiche system.