Emergency responders raise concerns
By Matthew Kirdahy
South Brunswick Post, May 27, 2004
Township police officers and
firefighters say Route 92 would make traffic worse and delay emergency
Though the Army Corps of Engineers' Environmental Impact Statement says
Route 92 will alleviate some regional traffic, Police Chief Michael Paquette and Kingston
Kingston Fire Company President David Luck said that since the proposed
highway would end at the intersection of Route 1 and Ridge Road,
increased traffic would cause more accidents and block fire trucks and
cruisers reporting to an emergency.
The Army Corps of Engineers hosted a public hearing May 20 to discuss a
draft EIS on Route 92 at the Radisson on Route 1. Chief Paquette and
David Mr. Luck spoke both spoke at the hearing. Kingston Fire Chief
George Luck was interviewed later. The hearing was part of a public
comment period that ends June 14.
The EIS says that though Route 92 would be under the jurisdiction of
the state police, local fire companies and rescue squads would provide
services on the 6.7-mile toll road. The road would run from the N.J.
Turnpike at Exit 8A to the narrowest part of Route 1 in the township,
Chief Paquette said.
The EIS is being conducted by the Army Corps to determine whether it
should issue environmental permits to the N.J. Turnpike Authority to
build the road. The Army Corps will publish a final draft after
feedback from the public hearing is transcribed and evaluated.
What the chief and fire president
couldn't understand, is how the EIS can report that Route 92 will bring
12,000 to 15,000 additional cars to Route 1, but won't cause major
Fire Company President David Luck said
it's difficult in District 3 at times for firetrucks and volunteer
firefighters to get to the station in enough time to report to the
emergency. Route 92, he said, would only make it worse.
Kingston Fire Company District 3 covers the area from Route 27 at the
Princeton border up to Old Road and including the east side of Route 1
to Ridge and Perrine roads. Route 1 is covered from south of
Independence Way to the Route 522 jug handle.
Chief George Luck said volunteer firefighters get about 20 emergency
calls a month, or 240 a year, including residential, commercial and
industrial and roadway. He said
emergency calls would likely increase if Route 92 gets built, which
could also mean an increased demand for volunteers.
"We're concerned as far as the amount
of traffic it will bring to the district and the increased delay in
response time," Chief George Luck said.
At the hearing, Chief Paquette
challenged the panel of Army Corps representatives, Koko Cronin, Lt.
Col. Kurt Hoffman and attorney James Palmer, to look outside the
Radisson front door around 5 p.m. and look at the traffic backed up on
Route 1 at Ridge Road, a perennial problem for motorists.
According to the Army Corps' draft EIS, "Route 92 would not increase
the burden on local police departments and could reduce that burden by
reducing traffic and traffic-related incidents on roads for which the
local police are responsible."
"I don't understand how when they say
12,000 to15,000 more cars can be accommodated by Route 92 where it
can't impact South Brunswick," Chief Paquette said.
He said that the township is in the
"throat of the hourglass" when it comes to Route 1. Route 1 in
South Brunswick has four lanes, where its neighbors to the north and
south, North Brunswick and Plainsboro, have six lanes.
"We need to find an option that's
viable," the Chief Paquette said. "Route 522 accomplishes everything
that Route 92 would do. The benefits of this highway do not outweigh
the negatives. This highway is a formula for regionalized gridlock."