Princeton’s Crazy, Mazy Alexander Street Walk-O-Rama!

signs1

Princeton University has doubled-down on signs around the Arts & Transit construction site. (Click to expand.)

Construction of Princeton University’s ‘Arts and Transit‘ project has vexed people commuting by car into Princeton along Alexander Street, and sparked revolt from fans of the Dinky train line. But we haven’t heard much about pedestrians along Alexander Street. For many students and local residents, their regular walk to work or class has been transformed into an ever-changing magical mystery tour of diversions, fencing and a remarkable array of signage (see photo above).

Building the University’s biggest single addition in the middle of one of the town’s busiest corridors, in the middle of semester, was always going to be a challenge. But the University has risen to the challenge with fences. Lots and lots of fences.

Solzhenitsyn?

No, it’s not Gitmo- this is a section of the construction zone along Alexander Street. The old Dinky Station is in the background. See below for what it used to look like. (or click to expand)

The local area is transformed. If you’re a student living at Forbes or the Lawrence Apartments, this is probably not how you imagined Princeton to be!!! You probably had something like this in mind:

The same area of University Place, at Princeton Reunions Day earlier this year. The Fences came soon after. (click to expand.)

The same area of University Place, at Princeton Reunions Day earlier this year. The Fences came soon after. (click to expand.)

At times the arrangements for people trying to walk to and from the new, temporary Dinky station can seem downright hostile:

No Pedestrians. (click to expand.)

No Pedestrians. None. Go back. (click to expand.)

To be fair to the University planners, they have gone to a lot of trouble to try to direct people walking along their infamous, ever-changing ‘temporary walking path’. At times there are so many signs, that it is as if somebody in the Office of the University Architect  was getting paid on a piece rate per sign:

Plenty of signs...(click to expand.)

Plenty of signs…(click to expand.)

The sign for the Wawa is in special red lettering, to appeal to the frazzled student in need of sustenance. (click to expand.)

The sign for the Wawa is in special red lettering, to appeal to the frazzled student in need of sustenance. (click to expand.)

Princeton University even hired some friendly traffic crossing patrol guys, to assist people trying to find their way to campus along the University Place construction zone!

Crossing patrol at the old Dinky Station near the Arts and Transit Construction Zone. (Click to expand.)

Crossing patrol at the old Dinky Station near the Arts and Transit Construction Zone. (Click to expand.)

It’s pretty crazy to think that the class of 2017 will spend their entire time at Princeton with the Arts and Transit construction project going on around them. (Construction is not expected to finish until Fall 2017.) The good news is that the detours around Alexander Road and University Place are expected to be complete much sooner than that. It seems hard to believe right now, but the University is projecting that a new train station, Wawa and access road will be completed by summer of 2014. Those of us in the town who just got our Robeson Place sidewalk back after years of construction at Palmer Square North can vouch for the pleasure in having things back to normal after a long snarl-up like this!

Update 1- The ‘Daily Princetonian‘ has an article: ‘In Defense Of the Alexander Street Construction Maze‘, also published today. Well worth checking out!

Update 2- ‘Bike Princeton’ are reporting that the Arts and Transit detour has also brought a ban on cycling on the roadway on Alexander Road. Is that fair? Find out more here.

Are you affected by the ‘temporary walking path’ along Alexander Street? Do you think the University is doing all it can to make life easy for pedestrians who have to detour around the construction site? Do you think the arrangements are safe? Have your say in the comments below!

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5 Responses to Princeton’s Crazy, Mazy Alexander Street Walk-O-Rama!

  1. Lieve Cash says:

    My teenager kids used to take the Dinky to/from custodial visits and then walk home. Now I just drive to and from P Junction. I am sure I am not alone. And I am a big Dinky fan! Maybe (or surely?) PU hopes that the magical mystery tour will look like a labyrinth and people will give up finding their way to the Dinky.

  2. Shelley Frisch says:

    Biking there is now a nightmare. It’s now designed solely for cars,with minimal afterthought to pedestrians, and none whatsoever to bicyclists.

  3. Wow says:

    Is it legal to specifically restrict bicycle traffic?

  4. A ban on cycling on a road that is otherwise open to “traffic?” That smells highly illegal to me. That would be like saying that some cars are forbidden to drive on a road due to construction but others not forbidden. According to NJ Title 39 , bicyclists have “all the rights and responsibilities as the operators of motor vehicles.” If the right-of-way is open to “traffic” and it has not been given an exclusion by NJDOT (most freeways are legally off-limits to cyclists) then this action would seem highly illegal!

    Oh! And that this is happening in New Jersey’s latest Bicycle Friendly Communty and New Jersey’s only Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists only makes this egregious action it all that more laughable!

  5. Pingback: Princeton University Should Not Be Allowed To Ban Cycling On Alexander Street | walkableprinceton

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