Dinky Debate Continues

19 Jan

As we touched upon in our December post, whether or not the Dinky station stop is relocated is currently a hot topic of debate in the greater Princeton area. Princeton University wants to move the station 460 feet farther from town in order to make space for its proposed arts and transit neighborhood.

At a meeting last week, the nonprofit planning group Princeton Future weighed in on the plans with another proposal, courtesy of Jim Constantine of the architecture and planning firm Loony Ricks Kiss. The plan offers strong support for the development of Princeton University’s arts district, but does so with a multi-stop light rail line that would offer some stops closer to town than the current Dinky station. The proposed plan, which is an attempt to allow the University to build its arts campus while simultaneously enhancing the Dinky service for the community, can be seen on Princeton Future’s website, here and here.

The original Dinky station was located one-quarter mile closer to the center of town than its current location; the Dinky was relocated to its current spot farther from town during previous campus expansions. At last week’s meeting, Mr. Constantine noted that if the university goes forward with its plan to build a building on top of the right-of-way of the current train line, the University will forever preclude any possibility of the Dinky being extended closer to town. In addition to saving the Dinky at its present location and making modest improvements to the station, the Princeton Future plan suggests:

  • Creating one new at-grade crossing near Lot 7 and Baker Rink, in order to satisfy the Universityʼs need for an additional east-west circulation route servicing the campus
  • Realign the tracks slightly through the proposed arts campus so as not to lose any of the space for the University’s proposed buildings
  • Switching to state-of-the-art in-town rail technology to allow: the removal of dangerous overhead catenary structures along the line; the Dinky to pass through the Arts campus in a safe shared transit plaza similar to those found throughout Europe; the extension of the Dinky as a streetcar running up University Place to Nassau Street where it could be easily accessed from the center of town; station stops at several places along the Alexander Street-University Place corridor that would diffuse the parking and drop-off/pick-up pressure that results from having only a single station with limited accessibility.

The 40 invited attendees also heard a presentation about the benefits of light rail from Jack May of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers, who also said that the Dinky could be improved with increased frequency to meet more NJ Transit and Amtrak trains at the main line in West Windsor with less waiting and timetable reviews.

The discussion will continue with a joint meeting of the Borough Council, Township Committee, the Planning Board and the public on Jan. 31 in the Princeton Township Municipal Complex at 7 p.m.

On the Move readers, what do you think of the Princeton Future plan?

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