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County’s Circulation Plan Will Create a Framework

Consultants and county staff are evaluating concepts for future projects.

A policy plan that could serve as a framework for Somerset County’s circulation plan through 2030 was presented to the public Tuesday.

The presentation was the second public meeting in what Peter Kremer, supervising transportation planner with the consulting firm Parsons Brinkerhoff, described as a “community-based planning process.” The circulation plan, he said, centers around the theme of connecting residents with opportunities through transportation.

Among the plan’s goals are to:

  • Maintain and modernize the county’s transportation system
  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Protect and enhance the natural and built environment
  • Improve mobility and connections between travel modes
  • Integrate transportation, land use and site design
  • Maintain a high level of safety and security

Following public meetings and several focus groups, the county steering committee has lent its support to a “Blended Plan” that combines aspects of baseline, highway-rich and transit-rich scenarios.

“The plan has to strike a balance and find ways to make it all a little better,” said Kremer.

Travel under congested conditions is projected to increase 25 percent by 2030, Kremer said. The blended plan had the most impact in shifting travel to interstates, which are better able to accommodate additional trips, he noted.

“It’s not just about roads,” said Robert Bzik, the county’s director of planning, noting that circulation also includes walkways and bicycle paths, freight issues, impact on infrastructure and the greenhouse effects.

Among the concepts under consideration are:

  • Re-introducing the West Trenton Line for rail passengers, with stops in Montgomery, Belle Mead and Hillsborough, where it would merge with the Raritan Valley Line
  • Evaluating the possibility of a new crossing over the Raritan River
  • Relocating Brown Avenue in Hillsborough
  • Improving interchanges at CR 518, Chimney Rock Road and Diamond Hill Road
  • Improving the Amwell Road signal and West County Drive
  • Completing of the US 206 bypass
  • Widening Route 22

George Keller of Warren asked if any thought had been given to banning truck traffic during certain hours, similar to what is done in parts of Europe.

“Flexible work times are part of the scenario," Kremer said. "Trucks do tend to self-regulate.”

Bzik pointed out that truck movement has to comply with federal recommendations.

Bridgewater Township Mayor Patricia Flannery asked if any specific recommendations were made, expressing concern that Milltown Road is “a real choke point.”

“Being a county plan, we can’t get down to specific corridor issues,” said Bzik. He said existing corridor plans are being incorporated into the circulation plan.

A draft circulation plan is  being prepared for review by the Steering Committee and county staff. It will then go to the Somerset County Planning Board for review and public comment.

If the process stays on schedule, the plan could be adopted by the planning board in late June or July.

“We encourage municipalities to use it as a framework element as they update their own circulation plans,” Bzik said.

The “Making Connections: Somerset County Circulation Plan Update” presentation is expected to be available for review on the Somerset County Planning Board’s website under the “Learn More” tab.

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