It's the end of the road for Route 92
Turnpike Authority cancels all plans for proposed highway
BY CHRIS GAETANO
North-South Brunswick Sentinel, December 7, 2007
Expired, terminated, inert, deceased,
perished, passed on, lifeless, belly up, dead. These terms and
more describe the current status of the controversial Route 92 project.
In a letter dated Dec. 1, Michael
Lapolla, executive director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, asked
Lisa Jackson, commissioner of the Department of Environmental
Protection, to consider all applications for the Route 92 project
"We have decided to cancel the Route
92 project," Lapolla said in the letter.
The announcement comes as the authority prepares to move forward on a
massive turnpike-widening project, to which most of Route 92's funds
were reallocated in November 2005.
The Route 92 project would have built a 6.7-mile toll road from exit 8A
of the turnpike to Route 1 near Kingston. The project would have cost around $400
million and was opposed by certain groups because it would have filled
12 to 14 acres of wetlands. There were also concerns that Route 92
would increase sprawl and contribute to pollution.
Some towns, especially Princeton, however, have been vocal supporters
of the road, much to the annoyance of
South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese.
In November 2005, the project received a crippling blow when $175
million was taken out of its funding and was devoted instead toward the
widening of the New Jersey Turnpike, which many at the time interpreted
as the project's overall demise.
Despite this loss, in November the
Army Corps of Engineers, which heavily supported the project, released
what it called a final environmental impact study. Seeing this
as a move for Route 92 to rise again, many
area municipalities, including South Brunswick, swiftly sprung into
action, seeking to deal the crippled project a final death blow.
The road's ultimate demise was met
with approval by a jubilant South Brunswick Township Council.
"I'd like to commend Mr. Lapolla in
his recognition that there are better things to do with their money,
like widening the turnpike," said Councilman Chris Killmurray.
According to Gambatese, the township
will now seek to have the land that was set aside by the state for
Route 92 returned to the township. This includes Friendship
Road, a section of Route 27 and a section of Route 1. During the
council's Tuesday meeting, Gambatese
and former Mayor Howard Bellizio discussed possibly using some of the
land for open space. Regardless of what it would be used for,
Gambatese hopes that the land will be returned to the township soon.
"Anything they have purchased, or paid
an easement price for, [should] be turned over to the township. ... We
will now follow up, now that we have confirmation that they're not
going to build it," said Gambatese.
Gambatese also said that the township
will continue to aggressively pursue improvements to Route 1.
South Brunswick has long promoted the
construction of 522-1A as an alternative to Route 92. The road,
the funds for which were bonded in December 2005, will run from the
intersection of routes 522 and 130, through a section of warehouses,
and reconnect with Ridge Road just west of the turnpike. It will cost around $8 million.