Officials tout bus plan as alternative to highway
By: Matthew Kirdahy , Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post, 04/15/2004
Township officials see train-like bus rapid transit route as an
alternative to Route 92.
Township officials say a proposal for
a Bus Rapid Transit route along Route 1 could be a viable alternative
to Route 92.
However, they said the BRT proposal wouldn't solve all traffic
problems in the area and that the
township needs to continue fighting
Route 92, as well as looking for alternatives.
A BRT route uses
train-like, rubber-tired vehicles on regular roads or dedicated
busways. Often the vehicles get priority at traffic signals to improve
On Nov. 12, 2003, the NJ Transit board of directors
agreed to hire a New York-based consulting company to conduct a study
on the feasibility of a BRT route. The study is expected to take a year
to complete. NJ Transit allocated $614,000 to fund the study, which is
being conducted by STV Inc.
NJ Transit met with Sen. Peter
Inverso, a Republican whose district includes South Brunswick, in March
to discuss the study. Sen. Inverso said the BRT, should be followed by
a plan to widen Route 1 in South Brunswick — to be paid for by Route 1
developers — and a review of the N.J. Turnpike Exit 8A area.
"This is an alternative," said
Steve Cook, Sen. Inverso's chief of
staff. "Hopefully, the BRT will
diminish the need for Route 92 or at
least scale it back."
In addition, Mayor Frank Gambatese
is interested in a Bus Rapid Transit route. But, he said there's still
work to be done to make sure Route 92, which has been on the drawing
board for more than 30 years, doesn't get built.
Route 92 is a
proposed limited-access toll road that would connect the N.J. Turnpike
at Exit 8A with Route 1 at Ridge Road. South Brunswick officials and
some residents are opposed to the road.
However, permits needed
to build the 6.7-mile road expired March 29. According to Joseph
Orlando, a N.J. Turnpike spokesman, said the Turnpike will apply for
new permits. The state Department of Environmental Protection has said
permits are needed because the proposed toll road would involve filling
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a
review of the road because federal and state environmental agencies
disagree over whether permits should be issued for the filling of
wetlands. The Army Corps will continue its review despite the expired
Mayor Gambatese said the BRT could
work, but only if
Route 1 is widened. He also said the township is willing to work with
STV, the company performing the study.
"We're willing to talk to
them and explore whatever we have to do to help make this thing go
quicker," Mayor Gambatese said. "It's not the sole answer, not unless
they widen Route 1. It's certainly the right idea, but it's not the
In a March 31 press release, Sen. Inverso said that
any effort to relieve congestion on Route 1 must include a realistic
plan to widen the section in South Brunswick.
"This section of
road serves as a consistent bottleneck and will continue to hamper the
smooth flow of traffic in this region, unless it is widened," Sen.
Inverso said in the release.
As part of the study, which is
being paid for by participating agencies, STV is reaching out to area
businesses, local governments and community members for feedback and
At the conclusion of the study, a formal report will be
produced and a public hearing held. The report would then be sent to
the Federal Transit Administration for review under its New Starts
project development program.
According to the press release, the
study identified the reason for increased traffic over the last several
years. He said that with over 12 million square feet of development
approved along Route 1, growth of employee trips is expected to grow by
68 percent over the next 25 years, compared to only 12 percent growth
in population in the region.
"I feel that the developers who
create the need for infrastructure improvements should help finance
these improvements," Sen. Inverso said in the release. "For example,
along Route 1, Princeton Forrestal Center is minimally contributing to
the improvements along the corridor, while placing over 2,600 peak hour
trips on the highway."