Locals use Web to battle Route 92
By: Sharlee DiMenichi , Staff Writer 04/24/2003
South Brunswick Post
Citizens group creates Web site protest
A citizens group is urging foes of Route 92 to
visit its new Web site for information about the planned roadway and
e-mail links to those who may ultimately decide the proposal's fate —
Gov. James McGreevey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The site, http://www.no92.com,
describes Route 92 as the N.J. Turnpike Authority's proposed "6.7 mile
private driveway for wealthy and powerful sprawl mongers."
Proponents say the spur will reduce congestion on
east-west roads between Route 1 and Route 130. The site offers e-mail
links to the governor's office and the Corps, which is expected to
release an assessment of the environmental impact of the 6.7-mile
Turnpike extension in the coming months.
Steve Masticola of the "No 92" coalition, who
conceived and developed the site, said he hoped the e-mail links would
help citizens express their opposition to the road. No 92 is a township
citizens group opposed to the highway. Mr. Masticola said he also
wanted the site to serve as an information clearinghouse.
"The inspiration for it was really to put together a
centralized place where people who are opposed to 92 and those who want
to learn more about it can go," Mr. Masticola said.
Those seeking to block construction of the spur,
which would connect Route 1 with the Turnpike at Exit 8A, say they
believe e-mails could influence the decision of Army Corps officials.
"I do know that the Army Corps at one point said that
they do care about the quantity of e-mails and the number of people who
come out to hearings," said Cathy Dowgin, an anti-Route 92 activist
from South Brunswick.
Ms. Dowgin said she did not know how many people had
visited the Web site, but that she and other organizers expected it to
educate effectively "because it's available to most people and it's a
good way to exchange information."
The Army Corps of Engineers is conducting an
environmental review of the proposed road because building Route 92
would require filling in wetlands. The federal Environmental Protection
Agency opposed Route 92 in 1998 and announced it would not issue
federal permits for the road; the state Department of Environmental
Protection, however, issued permits for it in 1999. The Army Corps of
Engineers is required to review the project because of the disagreement.
Gov. McGreevey may allow the road to be built or stop
the project by vetoing Turnpike Authority minutes that allocate funding
for it, or by appointing commissioners who oppose it. The governor has
not taken a position on the highway, saying he is waiting for the Army
Corps to finish its review.
A spokesperson for Gov. McGreevey said that mass
e-mails on a particular topic could prompt the governor to relay
citizens' concerns to the relevant commissioners, including those on
the Turnpike Authority. The transportation commissioner is a voting
member of the Turnpike Authority.
"If there's a spike in any given area, that would be
acknowledged," said Ellen Mellody, spokesperson for Gov. McGreevey.
According to the Web site being run by opponents of
the road, Route 92 would increase traffic on Route 1 and local roads,
attract development and destroy open space.
The Web site provides links to news articles,
including those by the South Brunswick Post, on the proposed extension
and to the home pages of other organizations fighting the project.
The site also features a section of the state
Department of Environmental Protection's BIG (Blueprint for Intelligent
Growth) Map, which outlines Gov. McGreevey's plans to limit sprawling
development. Route 92 falls into the red zone on the map, an area where
DEP officials hope to halt development.
"The red zone is supposed to mean no new roads; 92 is
in clear violation," the site states.