EIS supports Rt. 1 widening
By: Joseph Harvie, Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post, 10/19/2006
Procedure would ease traffic problems, officials say
A federal environmental report on Route 92 might not make a
recommendation on the proposed toll road, but it does support the
township's argument that Route 1 needs to be widened.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement for Route 92, issued Oct. 5 by
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, reviewed several options, including
construction of Route 92, widening or expanding local roads, widening
Route 1, or doing nothing. The report did not make a recommendation on
whether Route 92 should be issued federal environmental permits. Army
Corps officials say a recommendation will not be made until after the
public comment period closes Nov. 14 and comments can be evaluated,
probably sometime in 2007.
However, the report does say that
widening Route 1 and removing traffic signals would improve east-west
traffic in the region and "reinforce its character as a regional
"This is exactly what we've been saying for four to five years," Mayor
Frank Gambatese said. "Before we talk
about Route 92, we need to widen this 6.7-mile stretch of roadway on
Route 1. The interchanges need to be fixed, the lights have to
be looked at, and some need to be re-timed and removed. But certainly
this road needs to be widened."
The township is currently working with the state Department of
Transportation to have the road widened, helping to secure $7 million
in federal transportation money for the state to allow the DOT to study
the project. DOT officials met two weeks ago with representatives from
South Brunswick, West Windsor, Plainsboro and North Brunswick about the
study. NJ Future, a statewide policy and research group, has been
commissioned by the state to conduct an economic improvement study.
The Army Corps report, however, already addresses some of the questions
that are to be asked by the state studies. The EIS looked at two Route
1 options: widening the 6.7-mile stretch in South Brunswick from two
lanes to three lanes in each direction and widening it while also
removing traffic signals and building overpasses.
It says that if Route 1 were widened
and the traffic signals removed, east-west traffic on local roads would
be decreased by 10 percent. In
addition, during peak-hour travel, traffic on local roads would be
reduced "moderately." In addition, the widening would have "significant
reductions" on peak hour Route 27 traffic, according to the report.
However, the report states that because the widening would reduce
traffic, it also would entice people to use the road, increasing
traffic on Route 1, leaving it congested during peak hours. The report states most of that traffic
would come from Route 130 and the New Jersey Turnpike, leaving those
roads at "spare capacity."
The widening of Route 1 would also improve traffic between Plainsboro
and Turnpike Exit 8A by 10 to 15 percent, according to the report.
According to the report, widening Route 1 would affect 4 acres of
wetlands, have an impact on three residential and three commercial
buildings, but have no impact on preserved farmland or parkland. If
Route 1 was widened and traffic signals were removed it would have an
impact on 7.7 acres of wetlands, eight residential and eight commercial
buildings, the report says.
Both widening projects would
"slightly" facilitate sprawl development and partially meet the purpose
of Route 92, the report says.
Route 1 widening also would mean a loss of about 2 acres of vegetated
habitat, 10.7 acres if traffic signals are removed and overpasses
built, the report says.
The widening itself would have little impact on farmland, but removal
of traffic signals and construction of overpasses would mean a loss of
several acres assessed as farmland, but not preserved, near the
highway's intersections with Route 522, New Road and Beekman Road, the
Although Route 1 may be eligible to be on the National Register of
Historic Places, there are no structures of historic value within the
footprint of a wider Route 1 with or without the construction of
overpasses, according to the report.
However, according to the report, there are five small areas near Route
1 that have a "moderate to high probability for the presence of
prehistoric and historic archaeological resources." The report states
that there should be an anthropological and archaeological assessment
of the sites where overpasses would be constructed.
The historic sites include the southern end of the potential Beekman
Road interchange, the eastern section of the New Road interchange and
the east, west and south sections of the potential Route
522/PromenadeBoulevard interchange, according to the report. The report
states that there were structures that date back before the Civil War
on those sites, and artifacts could be found there.
The report designated Route 92 as the
only traffic improvement that would meet the scope and purpose of the
project — reducing east-west traffic between Route 1 and the
turnpike. It also said that if Route 92 were built it would affect 12
acres of wetlands, have an impact on 14 acres of the Plainsboro
Preserve, affect four residential and one commercial building and
slightly facilitate sprawl at the Perrine Road interchange, according
to the report.
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