Google Maps file photo

Concrete for sidewalks along Cranbury Road will finally flow in 2017.

The first phase of the project will feature sidewalk installation on the northern side Cranbury Road from Route 571 to Sunnydale Way. Council recently approved temporary construction easements for multiple homeowners along that stretch.

Cranbury Road residents have lobbied for sidewalks on the road for almost 20 years. Most recently, a group of Cranbury Road neighbors banded together to demand the installation of sidewalks in 2013. Some 50 residents attended a meeting at town hall pushing for the sidewalk construction. They also formed a group called the Cranbury Road Sidewalk and Safety Project.

In response, the township conducted a study, and a design was finalized in 2015. The plan features a four-foot wide sidewalk, plus buffer, that would begin on the north side of Cranbury Road from Route 571.

At Steele Drive, the sidewalk would switch over to Van Nest Park and continue on the south side of Cranbury Road before switching back to the north side at a crosswalk near Rabbit Hill Road. The sidewalk will terminate at Millstone River, the township line.

The roadway’s crowded conditions which spurred residents to advocate for a safer alternative for non-motor vehicle travelers has also made it difficult to design a sidewalk.

The one-sided meandering sidewalk design was an engineering solution for the lack of space. There are no shoulder lanes along most of the road, and at various points there are utility poles, trees, and houses close to the road. The sidewalk would snake around utility poles and structures, and avoid the steepest slope areas.

Phase one is projected to be completed this year, and the township is in the process of contacting homeowners for phase two of the project, which runs from Sunnydale Way to Steele Drive.

The township is trying to fit the sidewalk in the road’s right of way, which would minimize the number of permanent easements needed.

Samirah Akhlaq owns a home in the project’s second phase. She has agreed to provide a small easement from her front yard to make it possible.

“My understanding is all of the homeowners in phase two are in agreement except for one,” Akhlaq said recently. “I am hoping the town will get on it sooner rather than later because people walk or bike on the road.”