SOMERVILLE, NJ - Heavy construction equipment has cut a roadbed off of Route 206 North to connect with the Somerset Station residential complex now under construction alongside the Somerville NJ Transit Station.
The new road will empty on to South Bridge Street, just south of the existing railroad trestle.
The new road is an integral component of the infrastructure needed to support Somerset Station, a Transit Village which will include two apartment buildings totaling 370 units, 156 townhomes, and a civic center fronted by a pedestrian plaza that will include retail stores and accommodations for municipal offices, including a 4-5,000 square-foot auditorium intended for public meetings.
Preliminary plans include 14 buildings each, 4- to 6-stories tall with 371 apartments in two of those buildings; 156 attached town houses and two parking garages on the 40.7-acre site, all within walking distance of New York City trains.
The new road will provide a third access roadway into the borough. A portion of the new roadbed It is located between two other exits to Somerville off of Route 206 - South Bridge Street and further north, Somerset Street.
Signs will mark the new exit off Route 206, but there will be no traffic light, according to Colin Driver, the borough's director of Economic Development. A traffic light will be installed at the other end of the roadway on South Bridge Street
One dozen barrels with reflective orange and white stripes mark the access point of the new roadway, just north of the South Bridge Street exit and the New Cemetery. The roadbed runs along the fringes of the cemetery and borders the rear of two apartment complexes on one side, and the borough's reclaimed landfill. The Green Seam park expanse, which has undergone considerable environmental remediation, will be integrated with Somerset Station and afford biking and other passive recreational opportunities for all borough residents.
The roadbed alongside the train station has been lined with cobblestones on both sides and parallels the existing roadway that leads to the NJ Transit parking lot alongside the station.
Driver said it is likely the final paving of the roadway will be completed in 2021 - the sub surface that now exists allows access to the site for work equipment, deliveries of construction materials and emergency vehicles.
Work on the site began late summer, with excavation and installation of underground sewer and water pipes in preparation for the roadbed work.
Two 5-story apartment buildings will be built alongside the roadway in proximity to the SOMA luxury apartment building that fronts on South Bridge Street. Parking decks will be integrated into each of the buildings, according to Driver. One building will have 199 units, the second, 171 units. There will be approximately 400 parking spaces in the two buildings, with 270 of those reserved for NJTransit commuters, Driver said.
The conceptual architectural plans for the buildings embody a modernized Victorian-era design, reflective of the building facades in downtown Somerville, according to Brian E. O’Looney, architect for the project.
A brick-paved plaza with water fountain and retail space will be the focal point of Somerset Station, surrounded on three sides with four-story buildings.
Construction on the two apartment buildings and the townhouses should begin no later than April, according to Driver.
"Once they start going vertical they move very quick," Driver said.
Somerset Development, based in Monmouth County, is the owner of the property and master developer of the project, Driver explained. Avalon Bay Communities, based in Iselin, will construct the apartment buildings; Pulti Construction, based in Basking Ridge, will build the townhouses.
Driver expects the apartments and townhouses will be completed and ready for market by the end of 2022; he estimates total construction costs between $250-300 million.