FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - For the next two weeks the public is invited to view and comment on plans for two causeways along Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway, from today until May 26. 

The Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition (MVP Coalition) is the sponsor of a National Scenic Byway in NJ, a 27-mile loop through the Millstone Valley in the central part of the state. 

The Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway, located between the Millstone River and the Delaware and Raritan Canal, consists of two mostly parallel waterbodies, and the floodplains between them, sandwiched between roadways and causeways that connect historic villages and nature preserves.

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"This is a great opportunity for residents who travel across these important causeways to get a preview and have input into the future landscape designs that will be implemented over the next two years." VP-Outreach, MVP Coalition Brad Fay said. 

The exhibit will be on display from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at D&R Canal State Park Headquarters, 145 Mapleton Road, Princeton, NJ 08540.

Rutgers University student, Barbra Walker, will be at the headquarters for Q&A on Tuesday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to talk about the project. 

Ms. Walker is facilitating the exhibition of the class’s drawings and will compile a single landscape plan for each causeway incorporating comments from officials and the public. The goal is to produce the final Blackwells Mills Causeway plan and plant the site in October. The Griggstown Causeway implementation is to follow with the planting to occur in October 2018.

"Inspired by this rare oasis of natural beauty and historic integrity, the MVP Coalition is working to preserve its rural charm, to spruce up areas of neglect and to enable visitors to discover the rich layers of history and nature underlying its visual appeal," according to release from the MVP Coalition. "Two of the Byway's causeways, Blackwells Mills and Griggstown, are the focus of the Causeway Project. They are each approximately two-tenths of a mile in length. They connect River Road on the west side of the Millstone River and with Canal Road east of the D&R Canal."

Utility companies are tasked with keeping power lines free of overhanging trees.  Recognizing these energy needs and requirements, the necessity to prune the vegetation and trees along the route was apparent. Knowing that the pruning often results in unfavorable vegetation health and negative visual conditions, the most viable solution was to re-vegetate portions of the Scenic Byway. To meet this dual goal, the Causeway Project was launched for the two causeways. This a partnership with PSE&G, Franklin & Montgomery Townships, the D&R State Park, the NJDOT, the MVP Coalition and Rutgers University.

The project is now in the landscape design phase. In March 2017, Rutgers University Landscape Architecture students focused their re-envisioning on these causeways. The 12 landscape proposals (six for each causeway) enhance the experience (frame views, augment tree understory, layer plantings) and provide spectacular new walking trails through proposed native plantings from parking areas to the towpath walk, to historic buildings, and to water access areas along the river.  Some designs have raingardens to cleanse and gather roadway runoff in light rains.  Deer-resistant and pollinator-friendly plantings provide wildlife nourishment and habitat and rebuild the local ecosystem while augmenting the visitor experience.

More information about the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway is available at: http://www.millstonevalley.org

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MillstoneValleyNationalScenicByway

Map of the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/byways/2462/maps

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