Borough Council backs roundtable to discuss Route 92

By: Jennifer Potash , Staff Writer     
Princeton Packet, 10/15/2004

Other area towns are not as enthusiastic.

The Princeton Borough Council adopted a resolution Tuesday calling for a roundtable to be convened regarding the contested Route 92.

Route 92 has been proposed by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority as an east-west connector between Turnpike Interchange 8A and Route 1 near Ridge Road in South Brunswick. The 6.7-mile limited-access toll road would be built and managed by the Turnpike Authority, and would cost an estimated $400 million.

The council did not back off its past support for the proposed roadway, but suggested a discussion process similar to the one convened for the Penns Neck bypass, which brought all the stakeholders together, would yield better results for the Route 92 design.

Borough Councilman David Goldfarb said the public and all interested parties would have greater opportunities to address concerns about Route 92 under the roundtable format.

Mayor Joseph O'Neill said a roundtable process is an informational one.

"And I see no reason why not to have more information," he said.

The borough, Princeton Township, West Windsor and Plainsboro have all expressed support for the Route 92 project.

The Princeton Environmental Commission, which serves both the borough and township, requested that the council call for the roundtable discussion.

Barbara Simpson, vice chairwoman of the environmental commission, said the federal Environmental Protection Agency, has raised "significant concerns," including the filling in of wetlands and disturbing wildlife pathways, about the proposed Route 92 design.

Robert von Zumbusch, a Princeton Township resident who represents the Delaware & Raritan Canal Coalition, said while Route 92 will relieve traffic in Plainsboro, the road will likely dump truck traffic through Princeton by way of Harrison and Nassau streets.

"There is absolutely nothing Route 92 will do to help Princeton," he said.

Borough Councilwoman Wendy Benchley, who last year voted in favor of a resolution supporting the proposed alignment, said she now regrets her vote in light of concerns raised by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. She urged the council to send a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers expressing concern about the flaws of Route 92.

"We shouldn't just have some bland letter supporting a roundtable (discussion)," Ms. Benchley said. She later abstained from the council's vote to support a roundtable.

Area officials were cautious about launching a roundtable format for Route 92, while others rejected the notion.

Princeton Township Deputy Mayor Bill Enslin, who is the Township Committee's liaison to the Environmental Commission, said the environmental impact study of the proposed road is well under way and a roundtable at this point may not be helpful.

Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu said he was "not enthusiastic" about a roundtable format that would only delay the project and harm the region. Plainsboro has been a staunch supporter of Route 92.

"We are choking on traffic," he said.

West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh said the focus of any effort, whether a roundtable or some other format, should be on the environmental and scientific issues.

"If it can handle the way the real scientific issues and environmental issues are fully understood, without any emotional side to it, then it would be great," Mayor Hsueh said.

South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese said he was happy to hear that Princeton Borough wants to discuss the road.

South Brunswick has raised objections to Route 92, which would run across the township.

"This is a good first step," Mayor Gambatese said. "You couldn't get your point across to Princeton or Plainsboro or any other town because they are only looking at it from their vantage point."

South Brunswick Post Staff Writer Joseph Harvie contributed to this article.