Road closure update
Some routes in and out of Princeton are still closed, including Quaker Road, Mercer Road, and Stockton Street (Route 206). Route 27 is now open at the Princeton border. Route 206 is open north of Route 27/Nassau Street. Washington Road opened again just after 10 a.m. Alexander Street/Alexander Road opened again Thursday afternoon. Rosedale Road opened again at about 4 p.m. Harrison Street opened just before 5 p.m. Cherry Valley Road is also open.
In West Windsor, Washington Road is closed. Alexander Road is also closed between Roszel and Vaughn roads. Harrison Street is closed at the township line between Princeton and West Windsor. Route 1 is also closed at the Trenton Freeway in Lawrence. Police are also asking drivers to avoid Brunswick Pike North and South Bound from Franklin Corner Road to the area of the Quakerbridge Mall. All ramps from I-295 to Brunswick Pike also closed due to major flooding in the interchange area. In East Windsor, Route 535 (Old Trenton Road) is closed at One Mile Road due to flooding. Millstone Road is closed at the Cranbury Township border, and Old Cranbury Road is closed at Rocky Brook Road.
In Lawrence, Princeton Pike is closed from Devon to Graf, from Stoniker to Franklin Corner, and from Lewisville to Provinceline Road. Lawrence Road is closed near Notre Dame High. Franklin Corner Road is closed from Princess Road to Brunswick Pike. (Editor’s note – this info. was from an earlier Lawrence Police update. It may not be current. Cold Soil Road was listed as closed but residents told us it is open and dry now.)
In Hopewell, Route 31 is closed at Delaware Avenue, Route 29 is flooded near Pleasant Valley Road, 518 is flooded west of Route 31, and Route 654 is flooded.
Canal Road in Rocky Hill and Franklin Township is flooded. Police in Franklin Township said many roads are flooding there as the Millstone River continues to rise. Route 518 in Rocky Hill is closed. Route 287 is closed at exits 10 and 12 in Franklin Township. Also avoid Cedar Grove Lane, Pierce Street, and Davidson Avenue in Franklin Township. Police say the best way out of Franklin is to take Route 27 to Route 1.
In Montgomery, Route 601 is closed between Route 518 and Montgomery High School. Burnt Hill Road is closed between Skillman and Lower Middle School.
In Plainsboro, Mapleton Road is closed from Seminary Drive to Route 1. Petty Road is closed. The northbound lane of Campus Road is closed.
In South Brunswick, Route 1 and Route 130 opened again just before 11 a.m. In New Brunswick, Route 18 is closed. In Monroe, Route 33 is closed.
NJ Transit is operating the Northeast Corridor line on a weekend schedule and expects to resume regular service Friday. The River Line is also running, but with delays. NJ Transit buses are operating, but passengers should expect significant delays. Some train commuters were stranded on NJ Transit trains for several hours on Wednesday night due to the storm.
Historic flooding in some areas
The Princeton region experienced widespread flooding Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Waters have receded in many locations, but many roads still remain closed. Abandoned cars were scattered along some roads Wednesday morning, including Route 518 in Hopewell. Washington Road and Alexander Road in Princeton are open again.
The storm produced large volumes of rain, and local streams and rivers jumped their banks. The Millstone River reached its second-highest level in recorded history, cresting overnight at 23.4 feet, which is 13 feet above flood stage. The Delaware River will crest Thursday night. Many homes near the Delaware in several New Jersey towns have already begun to experience massive flooding.
If you do decide to travel against the advice of the police, be aware that there are significant delays due to all the area road closures. Readers have reported that it has taken them one to two hours or more to drive five to 10 miles.
Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency on Wednesday night in response to the damage Tropical Storm Ida has done in the state. A flood warning is in effect for most of the region until 6 a.m. Saturday.
Police in Princeton, South Brunswick, and several other towns have had to perform numerous water rescues as drivers drove through flooded waters and got stranded. Some people had to be rescued from their flooded homes also. Cars on some roads in towns like Lambertville, Pennington, and Hopewell were completely submerged in water.
More than 5,000 households in the Princeton region were without power on Wednesday night. Most power was restored as of Thursday morning, but there were still scattered power outages across Mercer County and Central New Jersey on Thursday. Some residents in Princeton, Lawrence, Hopewell, Hamilton, Robbinsville, Montgomery, Rocky Hill, South Brunswick, and Franklin Township were still waiting to have their power restored, and PSE&G said power restoration could take two days.
Residents across the region are being urged to stay home and not drive if possible. Do not drive through flooded roads.
Two people died in Hopewell, and four people died in Somerset County during the flash floods.
Montgomery declared a state of emergency late Thursday morning. Non-essential travel is prohibited on township roads and all municipal buildings are closed.
Franklin Township has declared a local state of emergency because so many roads are flooded there. Non-essential motor vehicle traffic is prohibited from local roads and streets that have been barricaded. Residents have been encouraged to shelter in place for their own safety to allow emergency services to respond to emergencies. A curfew will be in effect from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m.daily until the situation improves.
In South Brunswick, police rescued 15 people and 33 stranded vehicles. The township received eight inches of rain.
Many offices are closed. State office openings were delayed for three hours. Mercer County announced that all county offices will be closed Thursday due to the storm and flooding. In Princeton, the municipal building is closed. Trash will be collected as scheduled with the exception of any streets that are currently blocked off due to flooding or downed trees and wires. Trash will be collected on those streets next week. The Princeton Public Library is closed until 2 p.m. In West Windsor, municipal offices and the senior center are closed. Trash collection is taking place as scheduled.
Rutgers University officials decided to delay classes until 1 p.m. Thursday at the New Brunswick and Newark campuses due to the storm but then switched to remote-only learning for the rest of the day because conditions are so bad. Employees who can work from home have been told to do so. On Friday evening, Rutgers officials announced that classes would be held remotely again on Friday and staff could work remotely. Even though most roads in and out of Princeton remained closed Thursday morning, Princeton University remained open. A message was sent to staff members telling them to allow extra time for their commutes and to use navigation programs to find alternate routes to work.
Many events and appointments for Thursday are canceled. Check to make sure your event is still happening before you leave the house. Stay home if you can. Music in the Park is canceled in Lawrenceville for Thursday night. The Princeton Farmers Market is open as scheduled today, though some vendors may not be there due to road closures.
Residents of the Island section of Trenton next to the Delaware River were preparing to evacuate on Thursday as the river continued to rise. The river is expected to rise 20 feet on Thursday as water flows down from northern areas that received a lot of rain.
Photos of the flooding in Princeton by Matias Zaldarriaga (the following 11 photos):
Apologies for typos in updating this post constantly. We will update this story as we gather more information and as conditions change. Send your tips and photos to editor @ planetprinceton.com.