Home » Plan to route oversize vehicles through Pennington gets thumbs down from officials

Plan to route oversize vehicles through Pennington gets thumbs down from officials

by Lynn S. Robbins

Beigene

At the May 1 Borough meeting, a consultant from Ferriero Engineering, Inc. presented a plan to transport 235 pre-fabricated building modules, which will be used to construct two facilities for the pharmaceutical development company, BeiGene, located on Pennington Rocky Hill Road, through Pennington Borough. The plan was backed with research and statistics, but Mayor Davy and Council members weren’t having it.

Council member Chico Marciante criticized BeiGene for not being present to speak about the project. That task was carried out by Mark Kataryniak, Hopewell Township’s former engineer, who now is a consultant working for Ferriero.

While Marciante expressed dissatisfaction with the plan, he empathized with Kataryniak for taking the brunt of the criticism in BeiGene’s absence.

Council members and the mayor were in agreement that a plan that would slow town traffic, stop traffic at intersections, forfeit restaurant parking spaces, and disrupt businesses, residents, and pedestrians was unacceptable.

According to the engineering report, the modules would arrive by ship to a port outside of Philadelphia. Each module would be transported by Bay Crane company via I-95 and I-295 to Hopewell, Route 31 North, on individual truck transports under police escort.

The proposed route from the starting point of Route 31would proceed to the Circle, continue to North Main Street, then traverse through North Main and East Delaware Avenue through Pennington Borough to Pennington Rocky Hill Road. During a turn through a critical intersection, traffic will be stopped by police to allow needed space for the maneuver.

The operation is expected to begin early June 2023 and run through August. BeiGene has proposed three transports per day, with one in the morning and two in the afternoon.

Kataryniak said that although the transport could take place through Lawrence using Route 206 and Carter Road, the route through Pennington Borough was preferred because it is covers a shorter distance and involves fewer critical turns.

Council member John Valenza disagreed with the plan. “Route 206 and Carter Road is a better route,” he said, observing that this route would create the least amount of disruption for the town and traffic.

Valenza also said that conversations with the Borough about events that impact the community on this level need to happen sooner.

Several Council members voiced concerns and asked questions about the plan: Council President Kit Chandler wanted to know if a cost analysis had been done. Nadine Stern asked if the Borough could get copies of approvals from the County and the State. Marciante suggested that the transports could be done at night after business hours.

A few Council members expressed concern about the transport taking place in the summer when kids would be outside.

Several members agreed that the transport plan was not a good way for a company to foster community relations.

The conversation concluded with Davy saying, “We don’t want them coming through Pennington at all,” adding that he would write to Mercer County and the transportation department on the matter.

The Council moved onto other items on the agenda, but the topic was brought up again at the final session open to the public. Resident Reba Holley suggested that BeiGene could transport smaller modular units that would not require oversized vehicles. Valenza criticized the company’s plan to ship large pre-made modules instead of building them onsite at the New Jersey facility. He said that BeiGene’s plan saves the company money at Pennington’s expense.

Davy repeated that they don’t want the oversized trucks coming through Pennington and that he would send a letter to County and State officials.

COPS Grant:

Council discussed whether to apply for a COPS (Community Oriented Policing Service) grant that would provide funding for hiring a police officer but would require a minimum of a twenty-five percent match from the Borough. After Council weighed the pros and cons of the grant, members agreed that an entire meeting should be devoted to the topic and decided to postpone making an immediate decision.

Mayor’s Announcements:

Davy proclaimed May 2023 to be Older Americans Month and urged older adults to push past traditional boundaries and urged residents to celebrate their contributions.

The Pennington School has contributed $3,000 to Pennington’s Police Department in appreciation for making the community and school safe.

Public support for Sked Street Park improvements has been positive, and plans are moving forward.

Water line recap and update: the mayor’s office has applied for funding to replace a 100-year old water line that crosses Route 31 and services residents, businesses, the public library, the high school and a senior assisted living community. Potential funding would come through a Congressional grant and assistance from the New Jersey Assembly.

Summary of other business:

The Environmental Commission is exploring the possibility of community solar and geothermal energy for the Borough. The commission will be present to speak with the community on Pennington Day, May 20.

Sked Street Park: Council members passed all resolutions related to the park improvements. Engineering firm NV5 will issue a document addressing  comments from people who attended the April meeting or who wrote in messages.

Arboretum at Curlis Ave: Davy endorsed an ANJEC open space grant application to support Pennington’s arboretum. A volunteer workday to control invasive species is planned for a Saturday in June.

The Pennington Library has organized the Farm Talk and Tour which takes place May 21 at Chickadee Creek Farm. See the library website for details on this event and others in May. In April, the library celebrated Native Plant Month and also teamed up with Public Works to sponsor Busy Town, connecting children to town heroes and helpers.

Deer Management: A drone survey has been conducted and a report is forthcoming.

In the second session open to the public, Holley thanked the Borough for promoting Gun Violence Awareness Day. Another resident thanked the Borough for sponsoring Shred Day.

The next Pennington Borough Council meeting is scheduled for June 5.

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MercerMe is the only hyperlocal, independent, online news outlet serving Hopewell Valley in Mercer County, New Jersey.

Contact us: [email protected] 

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