New bill would eliminate planned Route 92 connector

Trenton Times, Thursday, February 12, 2004

Staff Writer

Declaring the proposed Route 92 would increase traffic on Route 1 and hurt the environment, two Republican lawmakers yesterday announced they've proposed a law that would deauthorize the disputed roadway.

State Sen. Pete Inverso, R-Hamilton, and Assemblyman Bill Baroni, R-Hamilton, have introduced a bill that would strip the New Jersey Turnpike Authority of its ability to build Route 92, which would be a Turnpike-maintained road in Middlesex County.

The same bill has been introduced in the three previous legislative sessions by various legislators but never has received a hearing. Baroni and Inverso hope opposition to the roadway will bring a different outcome this time.

"This is the wrong road in the wrong place at the wrong time," Baroni said.

The long-proposed Route 92 would be a 6.7-mile road that would run from Turnpike Exit 8A in Monroe to Route 1 in South Brunswick. The Turnpike Authority has $300 million for the project, but Inverso said it could cost as much as $500 million.

The project was supported by former Gov. Christie Whitman and Plainsboro officials to relieve congestion on Route 1, but opponents contended it would add up to 15,000 cars a day to Route 1 and destroy wetlands and open space.

"Before we start building new, let's fix Route 1," Baroni said.

The Environmental Protection Agency opposed the plan in 1998 but the state Department of Environmental Protection supported it the next year. The Army Corps of Engineers said an environmental impact statement was needed to resolve the split.

Richard Tomer, chief of the corps' regulatory branch in New York, said the document may be released in March or April.

The governor's office has final say, and Gov. James E. McGreevey hasn't announced a position on the project.

Inverso said he supported the project, but it's now too expensive with too many environmental concerns.

He and Baroni said they hope groups such as the Sierra Club will help boost opposition.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club chapter, said Route 92 would increase sprawl development.

"It's just one more example of bad development," Tittel said as he announced support for Inverso and Baroni's bill.