It's still 'no' on Route 92

By: Joseph Harvie, Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post, 11/16/2006

Council OKs resolution opposing proposed road

The Township Council said Tuesday it is not softening its stance on Route 92 and adopted a resolution opposing the proposed highway.

The resolution restates the township's long-standing opposition to the proposed 6.7-mile limited access toll highway. The road would run from N.J. Turnpike Exit 8A to Route 1 at Ridge Road.

The resolution is the township's response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Final Environmental Impact Statement, released Oct. 5 on the proposed highway.

According to the FEIS, Route 92 was the only alternative that met the project's goals, which was to get traffic from Route 1 to Exit 8A, while others, such as widening Route 1, partially met the project's goals. The study did not take into account the extension of Route 522 from Route 130 to Ridge Road near Route 535, which South Brunswick officials say will make Route 522 a useful alternative.

As for the environmental impacts of Route 92, the majority of wetlands affected by the project would be in the Devil's Brook wetland complex, according to the report, which is part of a 1,650-acre forested area in South Brunswick and Plainsboro.

The proposed Route 92 would cross the southern half of the Devil's Brook wetland area, and would require filling 12 acres of wetlands. The road also would cross the northern portion of the Plainsboro Preserve.

South Brunswick also had Michael Gerrard, an environmental attorney from New York, write a letter in response to the FEIS.

The township put Mr. Gerrard on retainer for $10,000 in 2000 to help fight the proposed highway, which would run through woodlands and wetlands in the southern section of the township and end at Ridge Road, which leads to the historic village of Kingston.

The Army Corps was commissioned to review the road because state and federal environmental agencies could not agree on whether permits should be issued. The state Department of Environmental Protection issued permits, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency rejected them, saying other, less intrusive alternatives exist.

The final 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, 5 p.m. today (Thursday), and the comments can be evaluated, probably sometime in 2007.

The South Brunswick resolution states that the FEIS makes the case for widening of Route 1 in South Brunswick from a four-lane to six-lane highway.

In addition, the resolution states that the FEIS narrowly defined the Route 92 and says "the purpose of building Route 92 is to build Route 92."

The resolution also states that the FEIS defines Route 522 as a "secondary road."

The township said that Route 522 is a four-lane highway, that once completed would run from Route 535 to Route 1, and is a viable alternative to Route 92. Work on the final phase of Route 522 from Route 130 to Route 535 should begin next year, according to township officials.

Franklin Township and Hopewell Borough, two towns that have long opposed Route 92, adopted similar resolutions, Mayor Frank Gambatese said.

Steve Masticola of the citizen's group No-92 said that the Franklin adopted its resolution unanimously, but there was on dissenting vote in Hopewell Borough by Councilman David Knights, who also works for Princeton Forrestal, the business arm of Princeton University, which has long supported the road.

Mr. Knights was quoted by the Hopewell Valley News, a sister publication of the South Brunswick Post, as saying "Even South Brunswick is softening its stance," on Route 92.

Mayor Gambatese said that he would send a letter to Mr. Knights personally and the council would send a letter to the Hopewell Borough Council stating the township has not shifted in its stance against the proposed highway.

"We will do whatever it takes to stop Route 92 from getting built," Mayor Gambatese said.

Rocky Hill, Montgomery, Hopewell Township, East Amwell, Griggstown and East Millstone have gone on the record in opposition to the proposed road. Princeton Township and Borough, Cranbury, Monroe, Plainsboro, East Windsor and West Windsor have supported the road's construction.

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