Bill aims to remove authority for Route 92
By: Joseph Harvie, Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post, 12/29/2005
Assemblyman Bill Baroni hopes new legislation will put an end to
N.J. Turnpike Authority's plan to build Route 92.
Assemblyman Bill Baroni wants to strip
the N.J. Turnpike Authority of its right to build Route 92.
The Republican said Tuesday that he plans
to reintroduce legislation that would take away the agency's legal
authority over the road, which would effectively kill the
The legislation would not have the
support of the Assembly's other South Brunswick representative.
Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, who like Mr. Baroni represents
the 14th District, recently announced her opposition to the road. She
said the Baroni bill could place the road back under the state
Department of Transportation's authority, which could choose to build
The Turnpike has had responsibility for the road since 1991, when the
Legislature asked it to review whether it was needed and to build it if
it deemed it necessary. It approved construction of the 6.7-mile toll
road in 1994.
The federal Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing environmental permits
for the road, because state and federal regulators could not agree on
whether they should be issue.
The Turnpike had set aside $181.5 million for design and construction,
but moved $175 million from the Route 92 project to a proposed widening
of the Turnpike from Exit 8A to Exit 6, where the Turnpike will connect
with an extended Pennsylvania Turnpike. About $6.5 million is still set
aside for Route 92.
Joe Orlando, spokesman for the
Turnpike Authority, has said that the authority plans to build Route 92
if federal environmental permits are issued.
Mr. Baroni said that, although the road was "defunded," the money could
be reinstated at any time.
"As much as we celebrated the money
being removed from the road, the money can be put back in just as
easily," Mr. Baroni said. "We
need to remain dedicated to making sure this road does not get built."
That is why he is introducing legislation to take the highway away from
the Turnpike. He introduced
similar legislation two years ago but it was never heard
by the Assembly Transportation Committee. Committee Chairman John
Wisniewski, a Democrat who represents the northeastern portion of
Middlesex County,said in February 2004 that a hearing should not be scheduled
until the Army Corps' environmental impact study was completed.
Mr. Baroni said he is not expecting
quick movement on the legislation. But he is encouraging residents to
lobby the Assembly.
"The mayor and folks in South
Brunswick worked very hard to do all they could to stop Route 92,"
Mr. Baroni said. "Whether it is when
they testified in front of Army Corps or organized a grassroots
campaign like the No 92 folks have done, we have to continue to work
together to prevent this road from happening."
Ms. Greenstein, however, does not see
the legislation as the best way to stop the roadway. She said
that the Turnpike Authority showed the highway was not a priority when
it shifted funding.
"Even proponents of Route 92 agree
that the widening is priority of greater importance than Route 92," Ms.
She is concerned that taking the road away from the Turnpike could
affect the Transportation Trust Fund, which is used by the state to
repair older roads and bridges and build new ones. She said the DOT could opt to build the road, using
trust fund money.
"If we fund the Transportation Trust Fund, the DOT can suddenly
consider it a high priority and use that money for the road," Ms.
Greenstein said. "It is going to be
hard enough to get that funded. We don't want to see that emerge
in the DOT."