Pedestrians on Nassau Street got a surprise this week. The sidewalks on both sides of the road were dug up, blocking access to walkers. The affected area was in and around the intersection with Scott Lane / Wilton Street. Pedestrians could still pass by walking in the road, although Nassau Street carries one of the heaviest volumes of traffic in Princeton. It’s not clear who was doing the work. Nassau Street is a State Highway, so it could be contractors for New Jersey Department of Transportation, or perhaps it was the town’s Department of Public Works doing sidewalk maintenance. At the time of writing, there was no mention of the project on the municipal website. Walkers were therefore left in the dark about what was happening, and when it would be completed.
If the work was for sidewalk maintenance, that’s a good thing. It’s important to ensure sidewalks are kept in a good state of repair, especially for people in wheelchairs or using strollers. But for this week, those people were out of luck. No account seemed to have been taken of sidewalk users, despite Princeton’s “Complete Streets” policy specifically requiring such attention:
“IV-10. Make provisions for pedestrians and bicyclists when closing roads, bridges or sidewalks for construction projects.”
At the very least, pedestrians could be informed about what is happening. For extra credit, the town could fix sidewalks on each side of the street one after the other, so that at least one proper path is always available. Construction and maintenance is inevitable, but its effects can be mitigated. Road work affecting cars is always announced and advertized by the town and police, and it is very rare to close both lanes of a two-lane road. It shouldn’t be too hard to make similar provisions for pedestrians.
Update: A notice on the town website mentions sidewalk improvement happening at ‘various locations in the municipality’. This work presumably includes that which happened this week on Nassau Street.