Mercer County saves on bike route
MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
TRENTON, N.J. - By using County workers, Mercer County has installed bikeable shoulders on County Route 632 for less than 5 percent of the cost of contracting out for the work. Final striping has just been completed.
“We had a lot going in our favor,” said County Executive Brian Hughes. “The estimate we got from a New Jersey Department of Transportation contractor was the standard cost for widening a roadway and came in at $1,795,397 for just over half a mile of road. We were able to do the widening as part of a normal resurfacing project and our guys did it for only $82,300. They also fixed some flooding and icing issues.”
“To me,” Hughes continued, “this is a story of how working in-house, with union workers, can often be more efficient than contracting out. We already knew the storm drains were there and what the project limits could be, but the estimate for project engineering alone, to mostly tell us what we already knew, was almost three times higher than our total cost of the job.”
The widening of County Route 632, Pennington-Lawrenceville Road between Pennington’s Main Street (CR 640) and Blackwell Road (CR 546) is a critical step implementing the County’s first designated bikeway.
Pennington Mayor Anthony Persichilli noted that, “The County Route 546 bikeway will help residents of Pennington and Lawrenceville get to a number of parks. Not only Washington Crossing, but Mercer Meadows the Twin Pines soccer complex, Lawrence’s Central Park, and the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail.”
The CR 546 Bikeway was proposed to the Mercer County Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force by Tom Ogren, Pennington Borough Councilman. Ogren said, “I am pleased that the County worked with towns and the New Jersey Department of Transportation to put this bike route in place. Of all the safety improvements, widening CR 632 was the most important and the most expensive. They did beautiful work.”
The County Route 546 Bikeway is one of many bicycle and pedestrian projects the Hughes administration has advanced. Others include striping bicycle compatible shoulders on Washington Road (CR 571) between US 1 and the D&R Canal; wheelchair ramps and crossing push buttons in numerous locations; improvements at several high-volume, unsignalized pedestrian crossings; working with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the NJ Department of Transportation to develop a county-wide bicycle plan; and improving conditions for cyclists and pedestrians on Princeton-Hightstown Road (CR 571) in Princeton Junction.
“The improvements to Route 571 in Princeton Junction are a lot more complicated than adding shoulders to Route 632 outside Pennington,” Hughes said. “In this case, we decided to go with outside contractors and federal funding to save money for local taxpayers. We are almost ready for final design and construction, and funding has been committed. The design is not exactly what bicycle and pedestrian advocates would like to see, but it came out of extensive public outreach to local residents and the Township. Changing it now will risk losing more than $10 million of federal funding. When the federal job is done we can go back and think about putting in some other amenities using our great County workers.”
“It’s slow and it’s expensive,” Hughes said, “but we’re trying to modernize our transportation system at the lowest possible cost to county taxpayers.”