Rt. 92's permits to expire

By: Rebecca Tokarz , Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post, 02/12/2004

DEP to wait for review of environmental impact before reissuing permits.

The state Department of Environmental Protection will let permits for a proposed N.J. Turnpike spur expire while it awaits a federal review of the project.

DEP officials say the environmental permits issued for Route 92 are set to expire within the next 60 days. The department will wait until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes its review of the environmental impact of the project on the area before deciding whether to reissue the permits, DEP spokeswoman Helen Cervantes said last week.

"We're waiting for a complete EIS, which we will then get public input," she said. "Until the best alternative is identified, we're not at the point to know what, if any, permits will be needed or required."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting the review because federal and state environmental agencies disagree over whether permits should be issued for the filling of wetlands. The federal Environmental Protection Agency refused to issue permits in 1998, saying there were less environmentally disruptive alternatives, while the state DEP issued permits in 1999.

The EIS could be released sometime in March or April, Army Corps spokesman Richard Tomar said Wednesday.

In December, the Army Corps completed what is being dubbed "a draft of an environmental statement" that could determine the fate of the proposed limited-access highway linking Route 1 to the N.J. Turnpike.

The study reviews the environmental impact of Route 92, a proposed 6.7-mile toll road that would connect the Turnpike at Exit 8A with Route 1 at Ridge Road.

The preliminary statement was distributed to the state Department of Transportation, the N.J. Turnpike Authority and the state Fish and Wildlife Commission for comments.

Officials in South Brunswick are opposing the highway because they say it will increase traffic in Kingston and have a detrimental impact on the environment in the Friendship Road area. Officials in Franklin, Montgomery, Rocky Hill, Hillsborough and the Hopewells also oppose the highway.

Officials in Plainsboro, the Princetons, West Windsor, Monroe, Cranbury and North Brunswick have come out in favor of the road.