Mayors seek help in fighting Route 92

By: Brian Shappell , Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post, 05/30/2002

Town leaders ask Gov. James McGreevey to block construction.

The mayors of several towns including South Brunswick have banded together to ask Gov. James McGreevey to stop construction of Route 92.

Mayors Debra Johnson of South Brunswick, Shirley Eberle of Franklin and Louise Wilson of Montgomery all have confirmed that they signed the letter, which was forwarded to the governor's office on May 15. Jon Edwards of Hopewell Township said he wants to add his name to the list of mayors as well. Mayors Angelo Corradino of Manville and Brian Nolan of Rocky Hill had previously announced their intention to sign the letter, though neither could be reached for comment Wednesday.

The letter restates the reasons the mayors oppose Route 92, a proposed 6.7-mile, limited-access toll road that would link Route 1
and the N.J. Turnpike at Exit 8A. Mayor Johnson, among others, has said construction of the road would increase traffic, especially large trucks, on local roads and would be "environmentally horrific."

"We're not telling him anything new we just want to reiterate our position and bring his attention to this and what a rut it would cause," she said. "We want to make sure we keep (the governor's office) as informed as possible and get it on the governors agenda." The mayors say the governor should heed the advise of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which said the road would have a significant negative impact. Mayor Johnson said Gov. McGreevey is the only person that can single-handedly halt the project.

"Our Regional EPA had taken a position against the proposed roadway in favor of the 'No Build' option that would provide improvements to the existing roadways," the letter states.

The governor's office did not return calls Wednesday about the letter or the governor's position on the highway.

The road currently is being reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which became involved nearly four years ago after state and federal regulators could not agree on whether permits should be issued that would allow the N.J. Turnpike Authority to fill some wetlands along the highway's route. The federal EPA rejected the permits, while the state Department of Environmental Protection approved them.

The Army Corps of Engineers' New York District office announced in February 2000 that because of the potential impacts of the road an
environmental impact statement was required. The study, which was started in February 2000, is set to be released in September, three months later than expected.

Local officials believe the need for such an east-west road has been eased because of other road projects in the area, according to
the letter.

"South Brunswick Township, along with county, state and federal assistance is in the process of completing Route 522, which is a
four-lane highway designed to safely move vehicular traffic from State Highway 27 to County Road Route 535," the letter states. "The roadway is capable of moving large volumes of traffic through South Brunswick Township to and from Exit 8A of the Turnpike."

The mayors are concerned about the increased opportunity for large trucks to use small, local roads located near the end of the proposed Route 92 path.

"Route 92 will bring congestion to our roads and big, heavy tractor trailers to local streets," Mayor Eberle said in a press release
put out in March in advance of the expected environmental impact statement release. "We want to see the Turnpike Authority pursue alternatives to the highway's construction."

"Route 92 will channel additional traffic into our area and will destroy wetlands and contiguous forest within Montgomery Township;
we don't take kindly to that," Mayor Wilson said in the release. "Our community is working hard to reduce traffic congestion and protect our natural resources, including water quality and habitat. Route 92 would deal a heavy blow to our objectives."