Corps delays Rt. 92 report

By: Rebecca Tokarz , Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post, 05/22/2003

State requests chance to review environmental study.

   The federal Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that it will delay release of an environmental study of the proposed Route 92 for about three months at the request of state officials.

   According to the Army Corps, state officials asked that Gov. James McGreevey's office, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Transportation have a chance to review the data in terms of the smart-growth initiatives, Army Corps of Engineer officials said Wednesday.

   The Army Corps said last month that it had expected the release of the environmental study in May.

   "The DEIS statement was about to be released when the state requested we hold off on it for a number of months," Pete Shugert, spokesman for the New York district of the Army Corps, said Wednesday. "We wanted to bring in expertise on land-use and smart-growth to the table to make sure the EIS is properly structured."

   Spokespersons for the Department of Environmental Protection and the governor's office did not return phone calls Wednesday.

   The proposed 6.7-mile, limited-access roadway would link Route 1 near Ridge Road with the N.J. Turnpike at Exit 8A of the New Jersey Turnpike. The proposed roadway would cut through the northern tip of Plainsboro and run east to west through much of South Brunswick along Friendship Road.

   The Army Corps of Engineers is conducting an environmental review of the proposed road because building Route 92 would require filling in wetlands. The federal Environmental Protection Agency refused environmental permits for the highway in 1998.

   The state Department of Environmental Protection, however, issued permits for it in 1999.

   The Army Corps of Engineers is required to review the project because of the disagreement.

   The Army Corps reviewed the project and determined that an environmental impact statement was necessary because the road could have environmental impact and that an environmental impact statement was required.

   New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Joseph Orlando said Wednesday he received a letter from the Army Corps of Engineers dated May 19 that said the project was on hold for three months and could be released in July or early August.

   "The Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection and the governor's smart-growth group are looking to make sure that all land-use, environmental and transportation issues are adequately addressed," Mr. Orlando said.

   Mr. Orlando said the delay will ensure that all discoveries made in the study follow the governor's smart-growth standards.

   "We're making sure that all plans and recommendations of are of the standards of smart-growth," he said.

   Mr. Orlando said the letter was brief and did not say who was wishing to hold back the release of the study.

   Township Deputy Manager Geoff Urbanik said he was pleased to hear about the delay of the DEIS to get additional information on land-use from the other entities.

   "When you consider land-use and smart-growth, Route 92 isn't it," he said Wednesday.