Updated: Feb 4, 2020
By Cassandra Vega (‘20)
In June of 2017, The Viking Vibe published an article verifying the intent of South Brunswick Township to permit a ShopRite and a sidewalk on Stout’s Lane from South Brunswick High School to the Target plaza less than a mile away.
As of February 2020, only one of those promises have been fulfilled. Though no fault of the township, as they have been battling a lawsuit and fixing numerous projects throughout the district, the sidewalk is no longer optional. With more and more students travelling to the shopping complex after school, it is incredibly difficult for them to get there safely with the influx of traffic and construction in the area.
One such student who has walked to ShopRite lately is senior Sierra Barnes.
“It’s very unsafe for pedestrians of the high school,” Barnes said, “We can’t see where cars are coming [from], which makes it difficult for children who walk to school. I personally was almost hit by [a] speeding car. I didn’t see it at all!”
Inexperienced drivers going around the turn between the high school and the shopping complex have led to more worries, as speeding is all too common and construction workers are often in or on the sides of the road.
One morning in particular, a bulldozer held up traffic on the way to school while driving on the road. Another afternoon, a group of construction workers were deep into the side of the road while working on the sidewalk’s construction. Though these are all relatively minor inconveniences, these can all lead to potentially fatal accidents if not addressed.
“We really need a sidewalk,” Barnes concluded, “It can’t wait.”
The development of the sidewalk is clear as a majority has been completed, however there is still a large amount of work to be done before it is operational.
In an interview with Community Development head Mr. Bryan Bidlack said, “we had hoped to have completed the sidewalk by the end of last year.”
Mr. Bidlack could not provide a set date for when it will be completed, adding to the frustrations and concerns that nothing will be completed by the end of the school year.
Additionally, Public Relations Department head Mr. Ron Schmalz revealed that all funding has already been achieved, which was the main issue four years ago. Between engineering costs and construction alone, there is an incredible amount of money being spent on this seemingly small project.
In regards to the timeline of the sidewalk, Mr. Schmalz said, “The footbridge installation has been delayed because of power lines interfering with the ability of a crane to complete the installation.”
Mr. Bidlack mentioned the power lines as well, citing PSE&G as the primary reason the sidewalk is not completed as of yet.
The contractors are working closely with PSE&G to get the power line turned off to complete the job, though once again a specific completion schedule has not been outlined.
PSE&G did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
Though the sidewalk issue still runs rampant, the unveiling of the corporate giant ShopRite was a massive success for South Brunswick residents.
Many students of working age have gotten jobs there such as senior Jada Jackson.
“The hours are really good because work is always after school and they don’t make [me] stay too late at night,” Jackson said.
There is no doubt the new ShopRite has already become a focal point of the South Brunswick community, allowing many students to get working experience and giving community members an alternative shopping hub.