The Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) are constructing a new headquarters building on the site of the former Township Public Works Yard and a vacated portion of Terhune Road between US Route 206 and Mount Lucas Road. The Municipality of Princeton,in accordance with conditions memorialized in two Memorandums of Understanding,has replaced the fueling facility at the former Yard with a new facility north of Terhune Road on Mount Lucas Road. The fueling facility, which reopened in March 2019, serves PFARS, Princeton Fire, Princeton Public Schools, the Municipality of Princeton, and Princeton University (in emergencies).
PFARS HQ CONSTRUCTION STATUS
The construction of the new Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) headquarters building is nearly complete. Located on the site of the former Township Public Works Yard and a vacated portion of Terhune Road between US Route 206 and Mount Lucas Road, the new building replaces the Squad’s current building on Harrison Street, which opened in the mid-1960s. The new building will be three times as large as the current squad building, enabling PFARS to better serve a growing community. It is expected to open in December 2019.
April 2020 Update - The canopy, over the fueling facility, has been removed. Site improvements are still being evaluated.
Mount Lucas Road and Cherry Hill Road
As the first phase of improving traffic flow in this area, Princeton changed the road striping on Mount Lucas Road between Valley Road and Cherry Hill Road in April 2019. Left turn lanes were created at Terhune and Valley Road on southbound Mount Lucas; signage and road markings were added to educate drivers to “Not Block the Box” at the Cherry Hill / Mount Lucas intersection; and lane arrows were added to northbound Mount Lucas at Cherry Hill to channelize vehicles. New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Code(Title 39 Section 39:4-67) prohibits a motorist from obstructing the passage of other vehicles (blocking the intersection); the penalty for blocking the box is a $54 fine.
Princeton is planning to construct new curbs and sidewalks on Cherry Hill and Mount Lucas Road and to realign the Terhune Road approach to Mount Lucas to enhance the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers using the intersection. Construction bids were opened October 1. Council awarded the contract at its meeting on October 10; work should begin in early November after the contractor completes the portion of the project on Alexander Street.
Cherry Hill Road and 206
The next phase of improvements, which will be completed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) in the next couple of months, includes adding three seconds of green time for Cherry Hill Road traffic at the US Route 206 traffic signal. In addition, NJDOT will be re-striping Cherry Hill Road. For outbound (westbound) traffic, this means that left turning, straight and right turning vehicles will each have a separate lane. For inbound (eastbound) traffic, the straight movements will be combined in the right turn lane (instead of the left turn lane).
Valley Road and 206
In the first quarter of 2020, Princeton’s consultant will gather current traffic data to update the signal warrant analysis for the Valley Road/US Route 206 intersection. The PFARS traffic study was completed in 2014, and is now considered out of date by NJDOT. Traffic engineering standards require that the data represent typical travel patterns;thus, traffic counts cannot be gathered during the holiday season in November /December or during especially inclement winter weather. If conditions permit gathering the data in mid-January / February, we anticipate that the consultant will have a recommendation ready for submittal to NJDOT in April. Typically, the consultant expects an answer from NJDOT in a month so we would like to have feedback on the submittal in May. The consultant indicates it would then take 6 to 9 months to design the improvement and receive NJDOT approvals to go out to construction.
The municipality has been advocating for restoration of the left turn from Valley onto Route 206 for several years. Included in this new submission will be additional justification for NJDOT to deviate from their policy of prohibiting the construction of new traffic signals within 0.5 miles of an existing traffic signal.
Additionally,the municipality and its traffic consultant are preparing a proposal to gather traffic data at various other intersections surrounding this area and the middle school / high school to determine if additional improvements can be made at other intersections to better distribute peak traffic. This proposal will be discussed at a future council meeting in late October or November.
Princeton Police Officers from the Safe Neighborhoods Department have been providing school crossing guard services during the morning and afternoon commutes at the Terhune Road/Mount Lucas Road intersection for students at nearby Community Park School.
In order to allow for the construction of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad building, the Municipality of Princeton moved its fueling facility across the site to a location north of Terhune Road on Mount Lucas Road. The fueling facility, which reopened in March 2019, continues to provide service to vehicles operated by PFARS, Princeton Fire Department,Princeton Public Schools, Princeton Police Department and other municipal departments. (The fueling station is also made available to Princeton University during emergencies.) The larger tank is designed to provide extra capacity during emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy when fuel deliveries are limited for extended periods of time. In June, the municipality took steps to reduce the impact of the fueling station lights by removing all but one of the motion-activated LED lights.
All users of the fueling station have been notified that the station is closed 7:45-9 a.m. and 2:30-3:45 p.m. on weekdays to reduce impacts on school traffic. We will continue to follow up on any and all vehicles that are not respecting these blackout times.
A subcommittee of the Site Plan Review Advisory Board(SPRAB) worked with municipal staff to evaluate potential alternatives to the current site. The group drafted a matrix comparing the pros and cons of this location and three other sites: the parking lot of the municipal fleet service facility on Harrison Street, the Princeton Public Schools-owned Valley Road property, and the area adjoining the Princeton Police parking lot.
Additionally, Princeton has installed traffic cameras near the existing fueling site and on Harrison Street near the municipal fleet service facility to gather data on traffic conditions. This camera data,in addition to the matrix will be evaluated in October by the Public Works Committee.It is anticipated that the Committee will formulate a recommendation for consideration by the full Council later in October or in November.
While alternative sites that could accommodate the canopy are being considered, the canopy at the current site will not been removed. If Council decides that the fueling station will remain at the current site, the canopy will be removed.
The Board of Health is evaluating various health-related literature about emissions from fueling facilities that has been provided, and will provide a formal response.
Efforts to improve the appearance of the fueling station will continue over the next few weeks as PFARS’ contractor wraps up construction work on the site. If a decision is made to keep the fueling station at this location, a screening wall will be completed and landscape materials will be installed to add a green buffer.