The recent talk of improvements to Cranbury Road in the Grovers Mill area has opened up a new discussion, especially among area residents who use Cranbury Road to get to the railroad station at Princeton Junction.
This has been particularly noticeable in the past decade or so for traffic from Plainsboro that uses Millstone Road to get to west-bound Cranbury Road. The last time Millstone Road was “improved” it was outfitted with stop signs at Cranbury Road.
Also about that time, Plainsboro Township chose to re-name that road “Grovers Mill Road.” Thus, the same road now starts out at its intersection with Cranbury Road as Grovers Mill Road and ends up being called Millstone Road in the Grovers Mill area after crossing the Millstone River and the township boundaries.
Of course, where it starts out, the road is called Cranbury Neck Road because it’s in Plainsboro. These little points of confusion seem to be normal for this part of New Jersey. What seems to matter the most is who named it first.
In any case, the idea of traffic lights in the Grovers Mill area seems to have merit, up to a point. As a long-time resident of Grovers Mill myself, I use Cranbury Road to go in either direction almost daily.
If I’m going to Princeton Junction or Princeton, I use it to go west. To go to Rabbit Hill Road, I go east. The greater volume of traffic coming from Plainsboro on Millstone Road is frequently troublesome, and it is rare when drivers stop at the stop sign when they reach Cranbury Road.
Many see cars coming along Cranbury Road from the west and assume they will turn right on Millstone Road instead of continuing on Cranbury Road without turning. These cars sometimes start to cross Cranbury Road right in front of oncoming west-bound traffic.
I have had many close calls there and have had to use my horn to wake up the drivers who seem to be unaware of the west-bound traffic on Cranbury Road. They stop for a few seconds, and then start again right away even though there are west-bound cars coming right at them.
For me, the most important improvement at that intersection would be a red light for south-bound traffic on Millstone Road. That would give west-bound traffic on Cranbury Road a way to proceed safely past the intersection with the end of Millstone Road.
This situation has gotten much worse over the years, since not too long ago hardly anyone drove from Plainsboro on Millstone Road to get to the Princeton Junction train station.
The other possible traffic light in the Grovers Mill area is one at the main intersection of Cranbury Road and the end of Clarksville Road. As a regular daily user of that intersection, I think the need for such a light is very doubtful.
Essentially, that intersection is self-controlled, and I can’t imagine a situation where a traffic signal would be useful or add safety to it. The existing stop sign at the end of Clarksville Road seems to be working very well, athough it would be good to keep it visible by removing the excess plant growth on it.
When traffic approaches the intersection on Clarksville Road, there are two clear choices: a turn left or a turn right. Both maneuvers require a stop or near stop. A traffic signal there would be unnecessary.
One factor that I have not mentioned is the new residential use of the renovated mill building, Grovers Mill itself. When it is completed it will house five apartments, and there will be a parking lot in the shadow of the building to hold the tennants’ cars.
Obviously, there will have to be the necessary signage to warn moving traffic of the parking lot as well as that required to control parkers as they enter the road.
But if the light at the Cranbury-Millstone intersection is timed correctly there should be little effect on the tennant’s parking lot. It seems that an additional traffic light at the end of Clarksville Road would simply add confusion.
Traffic control in the Grovers Mill area has been under discussion for some time, and it would be easy to overdo it and provide too much traffic control there. In fact, there are times during most days when little is needed.
It would seem that a light at Cranbury and Clarksville roads would be a good first step, with further needs to be decided upon if the need arises. This appears to be one of those situations where too much “improvement” may be worse than none at all.
Now, if we could get the township to examine the large nearly permanent puddle at the intersection of Cranbury Road and Bolfmar Avenue it might be discovered that a water main in that area needs fixing.