Army Corps announces May 20 Rte. 92 hearing

Oldest unfinished road project in state breathes again

BY Charles W. Kim
Staff Writer
North-South Brunswick Sentinel, April 22, 2004

SOUTH BRUNSWICK — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is coming to town.

According to a public notice issued by the corps Tuesday, there will be a public hearing on the controversial Route 92 project next month.

The public hearing is scheduled to take place on May 20 at the Radisson Hotel Princeton located at the intersection of Ridge Road and Route 1. According to the notice, the hearing will consist of two sessions. The first will be from 2 to 5 p.m., followed by an evening session from 7 p.m. to midnight.

The hearing will take comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) that the corps started in 1999 dealing with the Turnpike Authority’s proposed 6.7-mile toll road that will join Exit 8A with Route 1.

Known as Route 92, the oldest unfinished road construction project in the state, the estimated $400 million highway would cut across South Brunswick, filling about 14 acres of wetlands.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a permit to fill the wetlands in 1999 despite an objection by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Under Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act, New Jersey is one of only two states in the nation authorized to grant such permits.

The EPA objected in 1998 because it felt that there were other alternatives to move traffic from east to west. The EPA cited the completion of Route 522 in the township as a viable alternative to Route 92.

The Turnpike Authority took the project over from the state Department of Transportation in 1994 because the state agency had no money to build the road.
The idea for the road dates back almost 70 years, when it was first touted as a "gateway to the shore," connecting Route 33 with Route 206. Since that time, the road has changed alignments and directions several times. Now, under the Turnpike Authority, the road is estimated to carry about 20,000 cars each day, according to Turnpike officials.

Because the EPA and DEP disagreed on the plan, it was given to Army Corps to study in 1998. The corps has been working on the DEIS since that time.

According to the notice, a copy of the DEIS will be available for members of the public to study prior to the hearing.

Turnpike Authority spokesman Joe Orlando said a copy of the approximately 1,200-page document should be at the township’s library very soon.

South Brunswick opposes the project. Officials say the proposed roadway will only snarl traffic on Route 1 more than it currently is and devastate the historic village of Kingston.

Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu and officials from Princeton believe the road is needed more to combat the congestion those towns have on their east-west roads.

This year, South Brunswick placed about $50,000 in its proposed municipal budget to help fight the project.