HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – The stalled Route 206 Bypass project that ran out of gas six months ago has regained priority status with the NJ Department of Transportation thanks to the 23-cent per gallon gas tax increase approved by state legislators late last year.
The DOT invites residents to a Thursday, Feb. 15 public meeting at the municipal building, 379 South Branch Road for updates and questions about Phase III of the 4-mile Bypass that when completed will extend from Somerville Road to Mountainview Road.
The Bypass, first conceived in 1974, is expected to alleviate the chronic weekday and weekend congestion on the major north-south state highway.
The meeting is from 4-7 p.m., and will also include a public hearing on a planned land swap within the township involving a portion of the historic Van der Veer-Harris House property that is needed for the Bypass.
The township would dispose of a portion of the 1.75-acre Van der Veer-Harris House property; in return, NJDOT will swap a 12.99 acre parcel on Township Line Road that would be dedicated as open space. The State Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres program must approve the land swap.
Construction is expected to begin next year on Phase III, with completion of the final two sections of the roadway expected in 2020.
Once the Bypass is open, the township will begin to unfold its plans to transform the existing two-lane state highway into a more aesthetic, less congested Town Center roadway for the sprawling municipality that will help to promote a Main Street corridor populated by restaurants and shopping, according to Mayor Carl Suraci.
Details of Phase III, as proposed by the NJDOT:
· Construct the proposed Route 206 Bypass as a divided highway, with two lanes in each direction, from the vicinity of Old Somerville Road to the vicinity of Amwell Road;
· Construct the proposed Route 206 Bypass as a divided highway, with one lane in each direction and a grass median, from the vicinity of Hillsborough Road to the vicinity of Mountainview Road;
· Construct bridges that will separate Hamilton Road and the CSX Railroad track from the proposed Route 206 Bypass;
· Construct intersections with traffic signals on the proposed Route 206 Bypass at Mountain View Road and in the vicinity of Old Somerville Road;
· Construct a noise barrier in the vicinity of Old Somerville Road;
· Construct a jug handle ramp at the existing Route 206 and Triangle Road intersection.
Work on Phase III of the project was shut down in August last year when the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund was running out of money.
Gov. Chris Christie and state legislators in October finally reached agreement on the 23-cent per gallon tax increase which went into effect Nov. 1. The estimated $53M price tag for completion of the Bypass will be paid by the TTF.
Phase I of the project, which started in 2011 and cost $40 million, involved the clearing of land and construction of the first 1.7 miles of the bypass from Amwell Road to Hillsborough Road. It was completed in October, 2013. Christie presided at opening ceremonies, which included the naming of that section of the bypass for Peter Biondi, the former township mayor and state Assemblyman.
Phase II involved site improvements, utility work, preparation of the road bed and clearing trees on the remaining 2.3 miles of the planned Bypass on either end of the completed section. That work was completed in 2015