How best to make Edgerstoune Road a safe street? That question has been concerning neighbors, who have held several meetings with Princeton municipal staff, and engaged in a vigorous online debate that has now involved Mayor Liz Lempert as well. After some discussion, the town has installed three new streetlights (see photo above). Some neighbors are calling for a sidewalk as well, but this is fiercely opposed by other residents who say ‘neighborhood character’ trumps any potential safety benefit.
Edgerstoune Road is currently a ‘missing link’ in Princeton’s sidewalk network. At either end, it meets existing paths on Route 206 and in Greenway Meadows. But Edgerstoune itself has no facilities for pedestrians. Walkers must take their chances in the road, and though traffic is light at weekends, at peak times there are significant numbers of cars and frequent speeding. Many parts of the road are poorly lit, making it hard for drivers to see people walking in the road.
What’s worse it that Edgerstoune Road is the main entrance to a school: The Hun School of Princeton, with over 600 students. There is currently no reasonable way for them to safely get to school without use of a motor vehicle. Even students who live a few doors down along Edgerstoune Road must be driven, because parents don’t want them to risk walking in the road with fast-moving traffic.
Despite the apparent benefits of street improvements such as lights and a new sidewalk, several residents have strongly objected on the local ‘edgerstounerdneighbors’ email list. The improvements were called ‘impractical and expensive’, and neighbors who have advocated in favor have been called ‘a vocal minority’. Some local residents called on Mayor Lempert to explain what was going on, and the Mayor responded in a lengthy email last week. Lempert praised the “sense of place” in the neighborhood, and acknowledged objections to new street lighting among some in the wider area. But Lempert justified new streetlights, saying that “the safety desires of the immediate neighbors are being given higher priority”.
Despite Princeton’s stated commitment to ‘Complete Streets‘, the Mayor did not elaborate on the possibility of a new sidewalk. The issue takes on new urgency after the tragic death last week of Robbinsville School Superintendent Steven Mayer, who was struck by a car driver while out jogging on a road with no sidewalk. Hopefully, a similar tragedy will not befall any local resident who happens to be jogging from Greenway Meadows along Edgerstoune Road, or walking from the bus stop at the intersection of Edgerstoune and Route 206. The town has moved forward with some new features on Edgerstoune Road that are intended to try to slow cars. For example, although Princeton has banned speed bumps, these white ‘rumble strips’ were applied on Edgerstoune:
A temporary electronic speed display board was also fitted, although it was not operational this weekend:
The town of Princeton has a sidewalk masterplan, but this masterplan does not list Edgerstoune Road as a potential site for a future sidewalk. Instead, a somewhat circuitous sidewalk route was planned to run between Greenway Meadows and Route 206 via Hun Road and Russell Road. It’s not clear that neighbors on these streets would be more receptive to a sidewalk than residents on Edgerstoune Road, and the link remains unbuilt. For now, as neighbors continue the discussion, pedestrians in the area are advised to exercise caution.