The West Windsor administration has submitted a list of projects to Congressman Rush Holt to be included in his proposal for funding under the Federal Stimulus Bill signed by President Barack Obama last month.##M:[more]##
But Council President Charles Morgan has been raising questions and sparring with Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh over whether the mayor and the administration have been doing enough to ensure the township is submitting proposals for as many projects as possible. Morgan is challenging Hsueh in the mayor’s race this season; meanwhile, resident Pete Weale has also announced he will be running if he gets the number of signatures he needs (see story page 21).
The list submitted includes the Vaughn Drive Connector project, estimated at $38.7 million, which received top priority on Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh’s list. The project provides a road connecting Route 571 with Alexander Road through the Princeton Junction train station area to facilitate east-west traffic from points east of Princeton Junction to Route 1.
The project received support from the mayors of five other Route 1 towns (see letter page 2) because it would be a regional improvement that would help during the morning and evening rush hours.
Second on the mayor’s list was a list of Route 571 improvements, estimated to cost $20 million, that include a redesign of the road from Clarksville to Cranbury roads. “The project is now in the scoping phase looking for federal funding,” stated the proposal. The three major intersections that would be improved include Clarksville/Route 571; Alexander Road/Route 571; and Cranbury/Wallace/571/Route 64 state highway (the name for Route 571 at the bridge over the train tracks).
The third project on the list of priorities is the Route 1 Penns Neck Improvements, estimated to cost $201.8 million. The project had been on the Transportation Improvement Program list — the regionally agreed upon list of priority transportation projects to receive federal funding under the direction of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
The project includes an overpass near Harrison Street, frontage roads along Route 1, an elevated Washington Road over Route 1, and the elimination of traffic lights at both intersections. The improvements are projected to alleviate the congestion up and down Route 1 from Lawrence to South Brunswick, including in West Windsor, during the morning and evening rush hours. The six mayors of these towns also included this project in their petition. According to the documents submitted to Holt by the administration, the area is an important economic area of the state and would help the growth of commerce along the Route corridor.
The fourth priority submitted by Hsueh’s administration includes improvements to municipal facilities, including renovations, repairs, and landscaping at the municipal complex; improvements to the public works complex; renovations to the former Princeton Junction firehouse; improvements to the emergency services storage building; and a slew of recreation and park improvements, including the Schenck farmstead, Community, Van Nest, Zaitz, Duck Pond, Little Bear Brook, Penn Lyle parks, and many others. This priority also asks for street tree plantings and the automobile safety driving facility that came out as a result of a meeting Council President Charles Morgan held last month with residents.
The administration estimated the total cost of this priority to be $12.9 million.
The fifth item on the administration’s proposal asks for $12.9 million for township-wide sanitary sewer and storm sewer infrastructure improvements. The project includes emergency road and drainage repairs; Canal Pointe Boulevard traffic signals, two phases of Penn Lyle Road improvements as well as a Penn Lyle/Clarksville Road emergency switch. It also includes Meadow Road improvements, the South Mill Road signal beacon, and funding for the annual road improvement program, NJPDES Municipal Storm Water Regulation Program, and the annual Utility Maintenance and Improvement Program.
The sixth item on the administration’s list is a proposal for $3.8 million for bicycle and pedestrian initiatives including bicycle lane extensions, new sidewalk installation, new multi-use trails, crosswalk improvements, sidewalk repairs associated with street trees, and reconstruction of various intersections.
The seventh item asks for $3.7 million to be used to pay for Homeland Security initiatives. A list of upgrades, technological tools, traffic control devices, and apparatus requests, including fire hose replacements, are also included on the list.
The fourth through seventh items on the list each have a statement that explains that if received, the funding would be used for engineering consultant site surveying, design, and permitting, bid documents, project administration, and the physical construction of the improvements.
The last item on the list requests $3.5 million for redevelopment-related improvements, specifically funding to “transform a surface parking area with a parking deck for train station commuters,” the narrative stated. “West Windsor Township has one of the busiest commuter train stations in the state, serving both Amtrak and NJ Transit trains.”
In addition to Holt, the proposal was also sent to Governor Jon S. Corzine, the NJDOT commission, the executive director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, three senators, other members of the assembly, and other township officials.
Morgan, however, was not pleased with Hsueh’s efforts. On March 1, he issued a statement criticizing the mayor for not attending a meeting on February 28 in Trenton in which the governor met with more than 100 mayors to discuss the process for towns in New Jersey to obtain some of the federal stimulus funding being allocated for the state.
Morgan’s press release mentioned that Corzine, Joe Doria, the Department of Community Affairs Commissioner, and representatives from the DOT and DEP answered questions and as a result, extended the deadline from March 2 to March 9 for submission of water treatment and wastewater projects to DEP.
“Failing septic systems and completion of our sewer system, among other imminent needs around the township, were clearly identified at my open session with the public on February 16 seeking input for township infrastructure needs,” said Morgan. “I communicated those needs to Mayor Hsueh the very next day.”
Morgan also states that since the sewer system in West Windsor is beginning to fail in some places and is already “shovel ready,” the township “should submit its request for completion of the system for repairs to DEP, but we have to act by March 9.”
“It is amazing that our Mayor Hsueh did not attend this key meeting with Governor Corzine,” Morgan stated. “I am asking Mayor Hsueh to make a sewer submission to DEP on behalf of West Windsor by March 9. Just because these needs may not be related to the Transit Village is no reason not to pursue these funds for West Windsor. We must take advantage of this opportunity.”