(HAMILTON TWP.) – Assembly members Linda R. Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Wayne P. DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) today urged New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner James Simpson to use his authorized discretion to provide funding for a temporary traffic light necessary to alleviate a traffic pattern problem keeping customers away from a retail center that has been open for less than a year.
The Shoppes at Hamilton opened on May 27, 2009; however, the stores have struggled financially since then because of a confusing traffic pattern and the inability for southbound traffic to enter the center. Potential customers traveling on southbound Route 130 currently must take a 1.9 mile jughandle in order to get to The Shoppes. During high traffic hours, this jughandle can add an extra 10 minutes or more for a shopper to arrive at the center while others can easily miss signs for the turn. The end result of this traffic problem is that customers simply aren’t going to The Shoppes at Hamilton.
Greenstein and DeAngelo believe that it is a wise investment to support the retail shopping center because of the potential number of employees that could work at the center if the stores are successful. In addition, the assembly members believe the state investment in the infrastructure improvements will result in an increase in sales tax revenue when the stores increase their consumer base.
Under state statute, the Department of Transportation commissioner is authorized to use his discretion to allocate 10 percent of the $200 million appropriated through the Fiscal Year 2011 State Budget for the Transportation Trust Fund in order to fund county and municipal aid programs.
In a letter to Commissioner Simpson, Greenstein and DeAngelo wrote:
“We strongly urge you to use your discretion to allocate funding from this account for the purpose of installing a temporary light signal on Route 130 south. We understand the financial constraints facing the State Budget and Transportation Trust Fund dollars. However, we firmly believe that the investment of this state funding would yield ten-fold in state sales tax revenue once shoppers can more easily and safely access The Shoppes at Hamilton.
“In addition, we respectfully request that you allocate this funding and direct the Department officials to expedite the installation of the temporary traffic light. The end of the year holiday season is just two months away. If the traffic pattern is not eased soon, then customers will not shop at this local retail center during the busiest time of the year when retailers seek to rebound from slumping revenues.”
When The Shoppes at Hamilton were poised to open last year, it was believed that the surrounding communities could financially support the shopping center. The developer, Stanberry, estimated that 144,000 individuals with an estimated average household income of $89,962 lived within a five-mile radius of the center while 38,000 additional people worked in nearby offices during the daytime. Unfortunately, the surrounding community has not frequented The Shoppes because of the difficult traffic problems.
Greenstein and DeAngelo thanked Commissioner Simpson for his time the commitment of the DOT staff to work to resolve the traffic issue.