Piscataway, The good, the bad and the congested

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Piscataway township is your typical New Jersey suburb with its small quiet neighborhoods and buzzing town square. The Middlesex County gem doesn’t fall short of perpetuating the American dream but like any other town or city in the Garden State its overly populated. Pictured above is Piscataway’s town center located on Stelton Road in front of the Johanna W. Westergard Library. This built environment is typically filled with families of all backgrounds searching for the perfect place to get some fresh air. The area resembles a very Garden city-esque design featuring several trees planted on platforms surrounding a seated area. Everyone from children walking home from school to senior citizens commune to this built environment to admire what the town has to offer. The urban designer clearly created a fluid design that nicely connects to the already existing library branch. When the addition was constructed it accentuated the town and gave it that perfect small town feel. The Large clock located in the center bares the township logo with an arrowhead gracing the middle.

Prior to the addition of the town square the area was just an open field directly in front of the library branch and it added no particular beauty to the busy Stelton road. This area is agriculturally fulfilling and does not sacrifice any functionality in the process. Its safe to say our town square is here to stay for many years to come. Piscataway doesn’t easily lend itself to criticism pertaining to its land usage, but congestion always seems to be its Achilles heal.

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Horribly designed intersections and poorly placed traffic lights plague some of the intersecting streets leading directly to Stelton Road. The picture above was taken two hours before the evening rush. Turning lanes merging directly into stop lights with red light cameras to watch your every move. Accidents are a dime a dozen and the red light cameras have definitely generated thousands of dollars. The functionality of some of the lanes seem pointless and the traffic flow only causes more confusion. This area is classified T-5 transect zone and is features large fast food chains and gasoline stations. Construction also burdens the load of traffic in the area and this problematic intersection is one of many in the township.

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Large retailers and fast food chain have definitely shaped the landscape of the town over the years. The commuting nature of Piscataway always seems to attract more individuals looking for an easy transition to the city. As the population grow and time passes I do not see any forthcoming solutions to this raging problem of congested intersections. Shopping malls and retail space are plentiful and more construction is underway but no one has addressed the issue of traffic flow. The T-5 transect is easily identifiable and the only amplification and widening of a busy road has been near a T-4 transect where traffic is a lesser problem. Besides the congested roads Piscataway is definitely a desirable place to live for anybody looking for a small town feel. This gem in Middlesex county is buzzing and has a lot to offer just make sure to get there before rush hour.

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Beautiful Lake Naomi

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Lake Naomi, Pocono Pines

A built environment that I very much enjoy when I visit is Lake Naomi of the Pocono Pines in Pennsylvania.  The Lake Naomi community in the Pocono Pines is a great example of a positive built environment as it is known for its wooded suburban neighborhood, beautiful lake environment and distinct natural scenery.  The community is very calm, yet has the characteristics of a mixed-use area which is full of life as multiple houses, facilities and amenities are all incorporated into the greenery of the mountains.  Not only does this allow for a stronger knit community, but it also gives residents easy access to several of the recreational facilities by use of biking and walking.

 

 

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Pocono Pines, PA

 I think this is an ideal Utopian vision as the pros of both an urban and suburban area are incorporated into the wooded community.  People are able to enjoy the peacefulness of the area while still enjoying the excitement of a fun and family-friendly community.  I would classify the neighborhood as a T-3 transect zone as the houses are setback from the streets and tree lines in order to preserve the area’s nature.  

 

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New Brunswick, NJ

 

A built environment that I consider to be unappealing to me is my current neighborhood in New Brunswick.  New Brunswick is a very exciting and energetic city to be in as it is the home of Rutgers University.  The neighborhoods in the city promote walk-ability and  mixed-use, however I do not believe they promote healthier living conditions because of this.  Unfortunately, on the outskirts of the university, the low-income neighborhoods are very much lacking of green spaces and seem to portray a failure of a Utopian vision.  Sidewalks are polluted with garbage and streets are very overcrowded with parked cars and vehicular traffic.

 

 

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Easton Avenue, New Brunswick

 I would classify some of the area as a T-4 transect zone as several convenience stores, restaurants and family-owned business are mixed in among the residential housing.  Approaching Easton Avenue, the area resembles more of a T-5 transect zone as there is less housing and more buildings.  Easton Avenue can also be used as a thoroughfare to reach downtown.  With all that being said, I still enjoy living in New Brunswick given that I am a young college student, however it is not an area I would want to remain for more than a couple of years.  

 

 

 

Tale of Two Cities

The concept of designing cities so that it has a certain form and functions in accordance with that form was never a connection I was able to make in my head as a child. I always thought cities were designed for the pure aesthetics. Growing up I was never really a fan of the layout of hometown, Atlantic City. Reading more on the various urban design theories throughout history I have a much better appreciation for the way Atlantic City is designed. The city is definitely inspired by the New Urbanism movement with an interconnected street network with short blocks, a mix of housing types, on-street parallel parking and buildings oriented to the street.G

Going to school in New Brunswick and living off campus for a semester I have noticed many similarities between the streets of Atlantic City and the streets of New Brunswick. For one they are both New Urban style city styles. Interestingly enough my current off-campus house is actually one of very few within the city to have a fenced in front yard as well as a backyard.  They also have a grid-style street system with main roads to connect the major avenues. For New Brunswick around the Off-Campus area, the main roads are comprised of Hamilton Street, Easton Avenue, College Avenue, and George Street. While in Atlantic City the 2 major roads are Pacific Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. The casinos of Atlantic City are the main attractions of the city thus the city is designed around them. The main streets are cut to ensure that tourists have easy access to them while locals have an easy way to get to work since they do supply a great percentage of the jobs in the area. New Brunswick in comparison is built around its main attraction or asset, Rutgers University. The university is debatably the lifeblood of the city and thus the city has been designed around ease of access to the extensive reaches of the universities’ many offices and buildings.

The casinos of Atlantic City are the main attractions of the city thus the city is designed around them. The main streets are cut to ensure that tourists have easy access to them while locals have an easy way to get to work since they do supply a great percentage of the jobs in the area. Cabs and the world famous jitney’s operate on Pacific while buses operate strictly on Atlantic Avenue. There are walkable safe sidewalks as well as greenery, although that can be improved upon. New Brunswick in comparison is built around its main attraction or asset, Rutgers University. The university is debatably the lifeblood of the city and thus the city has been designed around ease of access to the extensive reaches of the universities’ many offices and buildings. The main College Avenue and George are serviced by the university’s own bus system while Hamilton Street and Easton Avenue are major hubs of student activity.

It is incredible to see how major industries have shaped two of the most prominent cities in my life. I have lived in the suburbs before without such influencing factors in the design and evolution of the area and it is obvious to see how much a large entity can have in the development of a city. The entire city’s landscape is changed to accommodate them and thus the future of that city is shaped by them as well.

 

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Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City

 

 

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Various types of housing in New Brunswick.

 

The Potential of City Design in Trenton, NJ.

In order for us to understand what design a city needs, I believe it is essential to understand what we are designing for. The city capital of New Jersey, Trenton, is a place where New Jersey residents escape suburbia in search for an urban affordable housing market with upscale properties, while also working in Metropolitan Areas, such as Philadelphia and Manhattan. Trenton has many opportunities that it can capitalize on. One of the biggest has to be its historical value. George Washington won his first American Revolutionary battle in Trenton after crossing the icy Delaware River. City Planning made a great decision when it chose to preserve and renovate the red-brick row-houses in the Mill Hill neighborhood of Trenton. On January 2nd, 1777, General George Washington utilized Mill Hill as a defensive unit for the Second Battle of Trenton and the night before this, he and his leaders met in the Douglass House which has now been relocated in Mill Hill Park. This neighborhood is now under major redevelopment as existing buildings are being restored, vacant parcels are being infilled to reflect the appearance of existing structures and the creation of mixed-use commercial structures on South Broad Street and East Front Street have been in the process. This all will increase the property value of these lands, thus creating economic benefits not only for the neighborhood of Mill Hill but also for Mercer County. Public and Private sectors should replicate these plans and invest into developing the other historic neighborhoods of Trenton to generate money for the people.

Mill Hill neighborhood

Trenton is split into seven different districts: Central Business District/Hanover Academy Neighborhood, Downtown Village, Riverfront District, Capital District Neighborhood, and the Downtown Transit Village. I would like to highlight The Downtown Transit Village of Downtown Trenton. It is a great asset to the city of Trenton due to its connection with the largest economic concentration within North America, the Northeast Corridor. Here, professionals and regular patrons are provided with transportation services that connect this city with five major cities: Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA, New York, NY, and Boston, MA. This means that Trenton has enormous potential for economic gain. Currently, the Downtown Transit Village of Trenton has a decent design. It incorporates some architecture, wide and textured sidewalks, a bus lane, meter and lot parking, and some street planting. But with advanced innovative Planning this entire district can be booming. The only attractions within walking distance from this exact location are liquor stores, a McDonald’s, dilapidated residential houses and some civic buildings. The Downtown district of Trenton including the Trenton Transit Center is a prime place for City Design and market.

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The city of Trenton has much potential, but unfortunately this potential has not been fully capitalized upon. And because of this, not only are professionals losing out but also the city of Trenton. Within this city, homelessness cannot be escaped. Drugs have infiltrated every corner of this city. On almost every block city cancer, plywood, can be seen on building after building. Potholes on potholes fill the streets. I walk the streets and see empty beer bottles and needles. Trenton has an area of 8.155 square miles (that’s two times smaller than East St. Louis, IL) but there are more than 30 liquor stores within walking distance of each other. Some of which are even a street crossing away from the public high school. There are around 3,000 abandoned buildings (in which Gov. Chris Christie is now announcing an initiative to demolish 500 of). Open fields turn into dumpsters. A majority of the population use public transportation but there are so many unused parking lots. This is a city crying out for City Design and Social Planning.

TrentonNJAcademy Street, a street directly down the street from Mercer County Community College

A Happy Medium?

     Construction along the business section of Route One in Lawrenceville, New Jersey is starting to take shape. The vision of the modern roundabout that Lawrence township is trying to achieve is somewhat a happy medium between the neo traditionalist’s idea of incorporating walkability and traditionalist’s idea of taking into account the importance of cars as the primary mode of transportation that John Levy mentions in Contemporary Urban Planning.

     One of the main goals for the ongoing construction project is allowing for more pedestrian walkability. As a result, engineers have incorporated multiple breaks in the center median to allow pedestrians to cross the busy section of the road. These multiple breaks serve as important access points for people to reach small business and commercial areas that are mostly located opposite of these houses. However, even with these crossing islands throughout the Route One business section, it’s still very hard to easily cross from one side of the street to the other. The speed limit currently in the business section is 35mph. Usually cars travel at that speed, and rarely stop for pedestrians who are trying to cross. While trying to cross Route One, I had to wait for ten minutes until a perfect window of opportunity, where a stream of cars on the road were not present to successfully cross. I do support the idea of having a much more pedestrian friendly space, but the area needs to be safe for pedestrian to cross and to be hassle free of having to wait for a long time. Providing these aspects are important to the township’s goal of convincing more people to walk, instead of using their cars to travel to fairly close distances.

 

Another goal for the ongoing project is to provide on street parking in the business section for customers that mostly travel using cars. Engineers decided to extend the sidewalk at the end of the streets to create spaces where cars can parallel park. In my perspective, I think that incorporating this to the design solves the problem of people feeling safe and traffic needing to slow down to encourage more people to walk in the business area. The design not only creates important parking spaces, but it also brings pedestrians a sense of safety as these cars will serve as dividers from ongoing traffic while they travel on the sidewalks. In addition, once cars can park in these spaces, it will surely cause additional traffic disruptions in the area. As people continually look for parking spaces and wait for spaces to be vacant it will certainly cause traffic disruptions. These traffic disruptions are actually not negative aspect, as it helps slow down the traffic flow. This will allow pedestrians to easily cross the street as traffic slows down.

The township’s vision for the modern roundabout certainly takes into account new urbanism, while still recognizing the importance of automobiles. Even though the project is not yet completed, it shows promise that a happy medium between a pedestrian friendly and car dependent atmosphere can exist.

 

Citation

Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 11th ed., New York, NY, Routledge, 2017.

 

 

Deal vs. New Brunswick

I’ve never really thought too much about the design aspect of where I lived until recently. I’ve recognized the beauty of my town in Deal, NJ but it wasn’t until I moved into a house off campus by Rutgers that I actually started to compare and pay attention to the details. It’s the simple things like grass that can really make all the difference aesthetically as well as functionally. I’m going to compare my hometown to my neighborhood in school and highlight my likes and dislikes of these areas.

New Brunswick:

Unfortunately, there are many more dislikes than there are likes when it comes to my neighborhood in New Brunswick, specifically when it comes to my block. Starting with the road, the road itself is not narrow, but the fact that there’s parking on both sides of the street definitely impacts driving. I even witnessed an accident from this where a car hit another car in the other lane, causing that car to hit a parked car. I definitely think that the parking is a major necessity but if there was a way to fix the parking situation by having parking on one side and a parking lot, then that would be much better. Another reason the parking here is very stressful because on all of these blocks you cannot park unless you have a parking permit which can be extremely annoying, especially for the many houses that don’t even have driveways (like mine). The parking on both sides of the streets also makes it really difficult for pedestrians to cross the street. I know that I personally always have trouble seeing if there’s a car coming because the cars parked are blocking my view.

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Another major dislike is the fact that most of the houses do not have front lawns and there’s barely any grass. My house is literally on the sidewalk without one strand of grass. This not only has a big impact on the aesthetics of the area, but it also has an impact on the people in the houses. I can hear every single conversation someone has that is walking by my house on the sidewalk, which is especially annoying when it’s 2 am and there’s drunk college kids running around!

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I do like however, the fact that there are sidewalks on every street which is very practical considering the amount of pedestrians. I also like how there’s a park right near the neighborhood to contrast the “urban” area.

Deal:

I found many more likes in Deal than I did dislikes. My favorite thing about the area is how big the front lawns (and backyards are). It makes for a beautiful separation between the houses and the street. Another thing I love is that most of these blocks have trees that are lining the streets, creating a beautiful archway that can only be fully appreciated when seeing it in person.Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 7.45.05 PM.png

All of the blocks leading up to the beach have sidewalks but if you go a few blocks out, most of them do not have sidewalks, unless an individual got one for outside their house. Since there isn’t a sidewalk or curb on most of my block, a major benefit to having the land sloping upward is that the cars that aren’t able to park in a way that is damaging to the grass or creating potholes.

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The area of Deal itself is beautiful and very spacious but I realized that it’s actually really hard to design for this area because for 10 out of the 12 months in a year the area is practically a ghost town. Most of the houses in Deal are owned by people from Brooklyn who only come for the summer. For most of the year the area is silent, but for the summer months it’s EXTREMELY busy and the summer months are the most important time of the year for the beach town. For example, there’s an intersection on my block that gives no trouble at all during the year, but once summer comes it’s the source of many accidents because there’s thousands of more people living there. The question is whether or not to put a traffic light there if there’s no problems there during 10 out of the 12 months. This is just one example of how hard it is to plan and design for the area because you have to do so for two extremes: the deadly silent and then the extremely busy.

Overall, there are many pros and cons to both neighborhoods, especially because the nature of these areas are so different, but my personal preference is Deal.

Robert Moses: Urban Renewal in New York City

“Europe had the luxury of having her cities bombed, we had to do it ourselves” was the saying in the post war surge in construction throughout the western world post World War II. For Europe, it was a necessity, almost every major industrial and urban center on the Continent had been bombed to rubble, and financed by the Marshall Plan, urban planners could rebuild Paris, Rome, London and other important centers in planned, methodical fashion, making the cities more efficient. However, within the United States, the centers so bombed out in Europe were unscathed, forcing American planners, armed with the knowledge of efficient city layout, a massive labor pool and intense government investment, began the process of urban renewal. And no one was more willing than Robert Moses in New York City.

Robert Moses was a bureaucrat, he was the NYC Parks Commissioner, who was loved by city politicians for being able to get things done without much fuss, on time and on budget. Perhaps no one has shaped New York City more-so than he. And in the post war- redesign of New York, Robert Moses took it upon himself to make the car the chief mode of transportation. The Henry Hudson Parkway, the FDR on the east side of Manhattan, and most infamously, the Cross-Bronx Expressway, were all created and built under his watch. He built almost every major bridge within the city, and the Long Island Expressway, opening up the Island for suburbs, like Levittown, to spring up as GI’s returned home from war. He built vital arteries for the city, that allowed for the massive sprawl and size of New York’s Metropolitan area. He also built within the city, clearing slums for the United Nations Headquarters. He was able to head the Public Housing department, and followed the ‘Towers in the park’ concept, creating almost 28,000 housing units in East Harlem.

There were consequences for all of Moses’ projects, however. The Cross Bronx Expressway cut directly across the Bronx, oftentimes separating customers from businesses, and business-owners from their homes. Entire neighborhoods were demolished, and were forced to move into the towers Moses had just built. This crippled the Bronx, and created an atmosphere that allowed crime to flourish as the source of income for thousands vanished. The Towers in the Park Moses created also were hard to police, earning them the reputation as dangerous, and spreading crime as opportunities to work were scarce. The highways, tunnels and bridges built by Moses also choked the city with traffic. Destruction of city icons, particularly the demolishing of Penn Station, shocked residents. As Moses moved on, and was forced to resign, the impact of his tenure was permanent. Parts of the City would be choked by crime for decades, and much of the city’s character would be lost.

Good and Bad Urban Design of Small Town Highland Park, NJ

Highland Park is a small and quaint town located in Central New Jersey right outside of the city of New Brunswick. One who lives in Highland Park has access to almost any needs of an average day including a supermarket, pharmacy, banks, post office and restaurants but any big shopping or more unique errands or activities would require going outside of the town. This town has many good elements of a walkable neighborhood because it is small enough to walk from place to place, from one’s house to the park, and from the park to the bakery. In fact, the farthest walk from one point of town to another is only about Thirty to forty-minute walk. This type of walkable neighborhood would fall in line with “Contemporary Urban Planning’s” description of the neighborhood when it says, “A neighborhood is a unit that matches the daily scale of most people’s lives… Typically, the neighborhood plan will provide for residences, a school, shopping facilities for goods, playgrounds, and perhaps small parks” (p.185). Highland Park is comparable to New Urbanism’s Andres Duany’s view of the neighborhood with elements of houses close to one another and to the street, and very walkable and narrow two-lane streets which do not encourage many automobiles to drive.

An example in the town of good urban design in terms of placement of town structures, is the proximity of the local high school to the public library. Highland Park High School is located on what locals call “the north side” on a residential street angled to face the street corner instead of the homes across the street. It directly faces the local public library and there are cross walk-like lines on the street connecting the pedestrian traffic flow from the high school to the library. This is very good urban design of a neighborhood because the lay out and placement of these two structures encourages high school students to go to the library after school. They can go to the library to study, research, check out a book and the library has just become a safe and educational place for local kids to hang out and make their way to after school. The closeness of these two buildings and the easy walkable route to get from one to the other is a great urban design plan of a town that will have positive effects on its residents.

On the flip side, there is a major flaw in a building placement in highland park just as one enters the town from New Brunswick. As a car crosses the bride connecting the town of Highland Park to the city of New Brunswick, one is met with a colorful glass sign that says “Highland Park “on it, welcoming all who are about to enter the town. Unfortunately, it is difficult to appreciate the beauty of this sign because right behind it there is a big brick apartment building with a small parking lot of cars in front of it. This eye sore is accompanied by a cement wall on the other side of the street going up the hill into Highland Park which was painted in a cute design in an attempt to hide the ugliness of this introduction to the town. This is a bad mistake in urban design because this is the first thing one encounters when driving or walking into highland park from the New Brunswick end of it. A person will not see the lovely Donaldson park, bustling main street or the pretty but small houses and tree lined blocks. Instead they are met by an ugly apartment building and a crumbling cement wall as their first impression to this small and quint town of Highland Park, NJ.

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Works Cited:

Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 10th ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Stuck in the Suburbs: Urban Design on Campus and Beyond

After living on campus for a while, it’s easy to forget that there are cities outside of Rutgers. For my blog post, I look at elements of urban design on campus that I vehemently dislike, and those in cities that I prefer.

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What is it: Katzenbach dorm and bus stop across the street.

Dislike: When I’m on the EE or F at 10:30am or 5pm, I can’t help but think about how pointless this bus stop is. Location wise, it is behind Neilson Dining Hall, which on the other side is a quick walk to Biel, a central bus stop on campus. In my opinion, the Cook/Douglass campus is extremely walkable on the paved trails and sidewalks, though the bus makes the space appear large and difficult to navigate. While I think several of the bus stops on Cook could be eliminated, the Katzenbach stop is especially inconvenient because it transitions from a main road to a small road, right before a traffic circle. This gives the bus route a local vibe, encouraging people to use the bus for a place 3 stops away instead of just walking.

What is it: Boyd Park adjacent to Route 18.

Dislike: Whenever possible, I try to run at a park instead on the sidewalk, since grass can be easier on your shins, you don’t have to stop for traffic every block, and is more enjoyable with a natural view. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with Boyd Park the first time I went. To run to the park, you need to cross route 18, and despite the traffic signs, it feels unsafe and inconvenient. All the bridges connected to the park only have a pedestrian sidewalk, so you are still very exposed to the fast traffic. The park itself has a gorgeous view of the Raritan River, but its limited length and exposure to route 18 doesn’t have the relaxing, slow-paced vibe I would like parks to have.

For the elements of urban design that I like I decided to go with other cities.

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What is it: Herald Square in New York City!

Likes: Not only is this public space a refreshing spot to go to for a break from the stress of city life, it is a literal break in the towering, crowding buildings surrounding it. I like these public squares because they are a pleasant place to rest and enjoy the moment, and eases the room on sidewalks for pedestrians. On the other side of the street there are food vendors

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What is it: Rue de Petit-Champlain, Old Quebec

Likes: I love that Rue de Petit-Champlain is a pedestrian only street, and how the cobblestone adds to the historic atmosphere of the city. While it is a very touristy area, the buildings alongside the street still have an authentic feel. As one of the few fortified cities in North America, Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite being primarily known for its historical sites, streets such as this one keep the city vibrant and alive.

Hamilton Rail Station: A Polarizing Transit Hub

The Hamilton Rail Station, operated by New Jersey Transit in Hamilton New Jersey, is a unique example of interconnected infrastructure that benefits its surrounding community in several ways. While it does not offer the same extent of rail coverage as Trenton does, lacking service for Amtrak and SEPTA operations, it still sees extensive use by commuters. The technical term for this type of station is an intermodal complex, meaning different methods of travel are available here. This is particularly evident by the vast amounts of parking and public transportation services offered in and around the station. In addition, the station resides in a very accessible location, minutes off of US Interstate 295 in New Jersey.

 

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Fig. 1: Sloan Ave. heading towards I-295. A New Jersey Transit 606 bus is seen on the left exiting the highway

Sloan Avenue, the major road upon which the station resides, is a major thruway of Mercer county and offers connections to many other destinations in the state. Aside from connecting to I-295, Sloan also meets with Klockner Rd, Quakerbridge Rd, and NJ Route 33, among others to some capacity. US Route 1 is minutes away on the interstate, and many local destinations are within reach. New Jersey Transit bus lines 606 and 608 service this station and cover a vast extent of Mercer county, including places such as Princeton, Hamilton Marketplace, and Trenton. By offering a dedicated bus stop immediately alongside the platform, commuters are connected directly with their respective trains within minutes of arrival. This is certainly a strength of execution for the station, and integrates well into the community that it serves.

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Fig. 2: The primary intersection for entry into the station is fed into this point from Sloan Ave., however most people exiting will have to utilize the adjacent road in order to return in the East-bound direction

As is common with many large scale road interchanges, there are usually multiple roadways leading in different directions in order to facilitate better flow of traffic. This is the case at the rail station, where the entrance and exit roads both offer incoming and outgoing traffic, but prioritize one or the other. This creates a flow of traffic that functions in essence as a loop through the entire facility. Unfortunately, the main shortcoming with this design is that when built, it was not labeled or marked with signage very clearly, and as result frequently confuses drivers who have not visited before. As a result, it requires some preface or understanding of the layout of the station to ensure the least chaotic commute possible. This is certainly a defined weakness of the station, but fortunately a redesign is a very plausible possibility should the need arise down the road (especially given projected expansion of the Northeast Corridor in the next 15 years). Additionally, the demolished factory across the road will eventually see re-purposing into a new residential community, which will be an immense benefit to the station.

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Fig. 3: A common sight from the taxi stand and drop-off area, with cars coming from two directions on a narrow road alongside the station platform. Generally traffic is very slow through here

Another issue with this station, also revolving around the flow of traffic and pedestrians, is the immediate drop off area adjacent to the primary atrium. As with the rest of the transit operations outside the station platform, this area relies on a consistent flow of traffic in and out of the area. Unfortunately by limiting the direction of turns and having only a narrow road that is often shared with a taxi stand, it can become chaotic very quickly when attempting to enter or leave the station area. People walking on foot must be cognizant of where they are going, especially given the numerous blind spots created by standing cars and station awnings. This issue stems back to the previous problem is confusing layout, where drivers (and even cabs) can wind up making an accidental illegal turn, or becoming trapped among other drivers in what should be a relatively simple interchange.

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Fig. 4: A view from the station’s walking overpass, looking towards the New York direction. The parking deck and the connecting road is clearly visible here.

Hamilton Rail Station features an expansive parking deck, with five levels of space for monthly and short term parking users. This deck saves a large amount of space that would otherwise be spread out around the station, which would in turn create more road traffic. In addition, the position and access points of this parking deck are conducive to a very efficient method of travel from car, to platform, to train. In the four tracks shown above in the picture, the leftmost two are dedicated to trains towards Trenton, while the right two are for trains towards New York. This is also evidence of intelligent design of the station, as the bulk of commuters are heading “northbound” towards New York and can immediately exit the parking deck and be on the correct side of the tracks to board their train. This synergy of transportation methods is unlike most others in the area; Trenton and Princeton Junction both involve more complicated layouts that result in a more convoluted transition for commuters.

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Fig. 5: A panoramic view of the main parking lot, with the drop-off area and waiting zone in the lower half, and the monthly parking further out in the upper half.

Sources: http://www.njtransit.com for bus route information and station technical details