Impact statement revives Rt. 92
Army Corps report excludes opinion on controversial connector
Trenton Times, Friday, October 06, 2006
BY ROBERT STERN
Almost a year after the New Jersey Turnpike Authority stripped 96
percent of the funding from the long-proposed Route 92 through southern
Middlesex County so the money could be used for turnpike widening,
Route 92 is again in the public spotlight.
Yesterday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that the final
environmental impact statement (FEIS) for Route 92 has been completed
and is available for pub lic comment through Nov. 14.
"It's back from the dead again,"
said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the
Sierra Club environmental organization. "It's the Dracula of highways that keeps
The FEIS does not include a
recommendation on whether Route 92 should be built, the Corps
said in a statement.
Outspoken opponents of Route 92, including Tittel and Assemblyman Bill
Baroni, R-Hamilton, said yesterday the
time has come for the proposed road to be mothballed for good.
"It's still the worst sprawl-in ducing
highway in New Jersey, so why don't we just kill it?" Tittel
Others, like Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu and Assembly Transportation
Committee Chairman John Wisniewski, D-Sayreville, counter that killing
Route 92 once and for all is the wrong move.
"We're hopeful that with this final EIS ... that this roadway will move
forward and think it should be moved forward," Cantu said, contending
that the highway would relieve road congestion, improve east-west
traffic flow and spur economic development.
Route 92 has been on the drawing board in various iterations at least
since the 1950s, Tittel said.
The current proposal calls for it to be a 6.7-mile east-west toll link
that would connect Route 1 in South Brunswick with the Turnpike's Exit
8A in Monroe through Middlesex County at a price tag that has been
projected in the $400 million to $500 million range.
Turnpike Authority spokesman
Joe Orlando stopped short of saying
that the agency's move last November to shift $175 million from Route
allocation to a turnpike widening project is the death knell for the
"The Turnpike widening is our real
priority now," Orlando said.
At the time that funding shift occurred, Baroni and other Route 92
critics hailed it as a major vic tory in ensuring that highway doesn't
But Baroni cautioned yesterday
against assuming that because there is little funding for the project
now that it will not be bankrolled at some point in the future.
He said the way to make sure that
Route 92 does not get built is through legislation.
He contends Route 92 would only add
to congestion by attract ing more traffic to southern Middlesex and
northern Mercer coun ties and destroy environmentally sensitive areas.
"It is a bad idea whose time should
never come," Baroni said.
But a bill Baroni sponsored in the Assembly that aims to prevent Route
92 from being built isn't likely to be voted on anytime soon.
Wisniewski, the chairman of the
Assembly Transportation Commit tee, where Baroni's bill is under
review, said he doesn't see a need to
schedule it for a hearing.
"To hold a hearing on a piece of legislation to stop something that's
not happening (because of lack of funding) from happening seems to me
to be frivolous," he said.
While Wisniewski said he isn't particularly in favor or against Route
92, he maintains that ruling out the possibility of its construction is
"I take exception to public officials who say we shouldn't solve a
problem, but then offer no alternatives, " he said.
Anyone who wants to read the FEIS on Route 92 can request a copy from
the Army Corps of Engineers or review copies available at various
public facilities, including the New Jersey Department of Environmental
Protection offices in Trenton, the Plainsboro and South Brunswick
public libraries and the Monroe municipal building.
Written comments on the FEIS must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 14 and may
be submitted to the Corps' New York district office with the
application number 1999-00240-J1.
Comments may be submitted by fax to
212-264-4260, e-mail to Nan.Route92EIS@
usace.army. mil or mail
addressed to New York District,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Branch, Attn: NJTA Route 92
Application, Jacob K. Javitz Federal Building, Room 1937, New York, NY
Contact Robert Stern at rstern@njtimes. com
or (609) 989-5731.