Letters to the Editor for the week of Dec. 29

Town Center trash, roads

are getting attention
To the editor:
We have received many questions from Washington’s Town Center residents about the status of the Route 33 improvements and the Southerly Bypass. In addition, the township has worked with the Mercer County Improvement Authority to improve trash and recycling pickup in Town Center. An important change will take place in the new year — trash and recycling will be picked up on the same day, on Tuesday.
   The administration and the MCIA have worked since August to address the high number of missed pickups as well as instances of property damage, which occurs when the trucks have a hard time making turns into alleys.
   Both Waste Management and Central Jersey Recycling report that cars parked too close to turn areas inhibit the ability of the drivers to turn into the alleys. After evaluating other options, including placing recycling buckets and trash on the front curb, the administration will use parking restrictions to reduce missed pickups and damage.
   To limit the number of days when parking is restricted, we are combining trash and recycling pickup on Tuesday, starting Tuesday, Jan 3. This affects Town Center only.
   Township employees will begin marking streets where cars should not park overnight Monday and during the day Tuesday. Initially, we will not be able to issue parking tickets, but the township will work with DOT to gain enforcement powers.
   Please spread the word among your neighbors, friends and visitors regarding this program. Our goal is not to burden residents with parking tickets but to improve service for everyone. With cooperation, we will be able to restrict parking with street markings only and avoid additional signs.
   We will continue to evaluate this change. It may be necessary to adjust the program before we pass ordinances to enforce the restrictions. We will seek your feedback in February but residents can call any time. The township number is (609) 259-7082. I am at extension 138. Public Works Director Dino Colarocco can be reached at extension 133.
   Additionally, the township continues to work with the New Jersey Department of Transportation on the road network that will serve the three developments on the south side of Town Center (south of Route 33). As the press reported in September, initial results from a traffic study recommended a five-lane highway in the middle of Town Center. Mayor Fried opposed this and worked with Hamilton Mayor Glen Gilmore and DOT to prevent this outcome.
   At present, it appears DOT is inclined to retain a bypass along the original route. To allow needed traffic signals and turns, the bypass would be a two-lane local road, not a state highway as first envisioned. However, to improve circulation and keep Route 33 at three lanes, it may be necessary to alter the internal street pattern for the South Side. This should not have an adverse effect on the north side of Town Center; in fact, the changes should provide relief for increased traffic on Union Street. DOT changes may require the south side builders to return to the Washington Township Planning Board. Two Town Center residents, Tom Halm and Trisha Danze, are members of the Planning Board.
   In terms of other traffic improvements, two long-planned improvements are making their way through DOT. A traffic signal at Lake Drive and Route 33 should be approved by the end of the year. This will allow left turns onto Route 33 from Roma Bank/Lake Drive, which should reduce traffic on Union Street. Also, the township and DOT are discussing the possibility of four-way stops at two locations on Union Street.
   For many years, cars traveling from Princeton and West Windsor on Route 526 have formed a long queue at the intersection with Route 33. The DOT is completing engineering work on a double left turn at this intersection. It is hoped that this project will be complete by late summer 2006 before new commercial properties on that corner are open for business.
   We will report soon on the status of the Children’s Park fence in Town Center. Look for updates in early 2006 on a revamped Washington Township Web site.
Mary Caffrey
Township Administrator