Letters to governor lambaste Rt. 92

By:Matthew Kirdahy , Staff Writer     
South Brunswick Post, 07/29/2004

Gov. MrGreevey hears from 1,800 South Brunswick residents

Gov. James McGreevey now knows where 1,800 South Brunswick residents stand on Route 92.

According to letters delivered to the governor's office Friday, they opposed the project because of its environmental and traffic impacts.

Mayor Frank Gambatese and Councilwoman Carol Barrett delivered 1,800 copies of a letter written by the No 92 coalition to Gov. McGreevey's office Friday that says motorists won't pay to use the proposed toll road when they could continue to travel on east-west roads for free. The letter suggests that the money the state would spend on Route 92 would be best spent on a Bus Rapid Transit route or to widen Route 1.

"I think just the total number of letters we handed in speaks for itself," Ms. Barrett said about the form letter, which has been circulating since May 21.

A different South Brunswick resident signed each copy of the letter, which urged Gov. McGreevey to reject the 6.7-mile N.J. Turnpike Authority-proposed toll road that would extend from the N.J. Turnpike Exit 8A to Route 1 at Ridge Road in South Brunswick.

"We're certainly pleased that we had 1,800 signatures," Mayor Gambatese said. "When we originally started around the time of the (Route 92) hearing we had about 400 or 500. I think it's important that the governor understands there is a great majority of people in South Brunswick and in the surrounding area concerned with Route 92."

A phone call to the governor's office was not returned.

According to the letter, "Route 92 violates your Administration's stated policies of fiscal responsibility and smart growth. Rather than improving the roads we already have, 92 would cut through a nature preserve, wetlands, endangered species habitat, open space, and farmland. The cost is enormous: $400 million, estimated in 1993, and probably much higher in reality now. This money would be better spent on repairing and improving the roads and bridges we already have, and on increasing public transit around Route 1."

"We can do better than Route 92," the letter says. "We need to start with a fair, community-based conflict resolution process that works for the whole region, similar to the Penns Neck Area EIS Partners Roundtable in West Windsor. The Route 92 draft EIS makes scant mention of community involvement in the decision process, yet it is the community that must live with whatever is built. Please reject the Turnpike's proposed alignment of Route 92, and instead use our money on transportation projects that make sense to the community, the environment, and to the taxpayers of New Jersey."

The Turnpike Authority proposal is being reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps is reviewing the project because state and federal environmental agencies disagree over whether permits should be issued allowing the Turnpike Authority to fill wetlands to construct the highway.

The Army Corps has released a draft of its Environmental Impact Statement on Route 92 and is reviewing comments from the public and state and federal government agencies on the traffic and environmental impacts of the proposed four-lane highway.

The public comment period ended June 14. Two participating organizations received extensions to further evaluate the draft EIS before commenting. The state Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife submitted its comments June 28. The Environmental Protection Agency submitted its comments July 13.

The EPA had denied permits to build the road in 1998 saying there were less disruptive alternatives. The state Department of Environmental Protection issued permits for the road in 1999. The state permits expired March 29, but the Turnpike Authority has said it would reapply for the permits but has not said when.