A longer Rt. 92 on the horizon?
By Steve Bass
Central Post, March 11, 1999
Current plans for proposed Route
92 call for a 6.7 mile limited access toll highway that would link the New
Jersey Turnpike at exit 8A with Route 1 near Ridge Road.
proponents and opponents of the road say that this 6.7-mile stretch may well
pave the way for a longer highway, traveling through Kingston to Route 27 and,
possibly, as far as Route 206 in Somerset or Mercer County.
environmentalists fear, would multiply the destruction of sensitive lands and
open space in the region. Supporters, however, say it would create another
much-needed east-west alternative to local roadways.
The New Jersey
Chapter of the Sierra Club, an environmental group opposed to the project, said
that if Route 92 is built traffic dumping onto Route 1 from the highway could
force road planners to extend it farther west.
An extension of that sort
would be supported by MSM Regional Council [now the Regional Planning
Partnership, or RPP. -ed.], a planning group, because it provides an alternative
to local roads. MSM has been advocating the extension since the N.J. Turnpike
Authority approved the road in 1994.
NJ Turnpike officials say they have
no plans to extend the proposed highway, though construction of the road does
not rule out the possibility of extending Route 92 to Route 27.
is under review by the federal Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps was given
jurisdiction for the review following a September decision by the federal
Environmental Protection Agency not to issue wetlands permits.
has been considering various alignments for the road for more than 50 years.
Until the late 1980s, plans called for the highway to extend to Route 206. The
Route 27 to Route 206 link was dropped by the state Department of Transportation
in the early 1990s, because of disagreements between Princeton Township and
Montgomery over the alignment and concerns about wetlands in Franklin.
1991, the state Legislature transferred jurisdiction for the road to the
Turnpike Authority. The Authority conducted environmental and traffic studies
and determined that the Route 1 to Turnpike link should be built; the Route 1 to
Route 27 link was dropped because of environmental concerns.
Executive Director Edward Gross said Wednesday the Turnpike is only concerned
with the 6.7-mile road being considered by the Army Corps of Engineers. However,
he said "the present alignment for Route 92 doesn't foreclose extending it to
Mr. Gross said the Turnpike had considered a road extending to
Route 27 early in the planning process when the state Legislature transferred
jurisdiction. Traffic and environmental studies indicated that extending Route
92 to Route 27 would offer no additional benefits, said Mr. Gross.
Tittle, of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club said the amount of extra
traffic that would result from the construction of Route 92 may cause a need for
it to be extended to Route 27 or farther west.
Administrator Donato Nieman - the former township administrator in South
Brunswick - also said additional traffic created by Route 92 could lead to
another proposed connector road. However, Montgomery is most concerned that the
construction of Route 92 will increase traffic on Route 206, a two-lane highway
in Montgomery and the main traffic conduit for the community. Montgomery has
been taking steps to keep Route 206 from being widened and has been working to
reduce the amount of truck traffic that travels along the route.
reports conducted by the Kingston Initiative, an advisory task force in the
village, show increased traffic in the village of Kingston and generally west of
the Route 1 terminus if Route 92 is built.
Kingston would become "a
gateway for traffic" generated by Route 92 and heading to and from the west and
nearby towns, according to a Sept. 8, 1998 report from the Kingston
In addition, the report and an analysis conducted by South
Brunswick questions why the impact of Route 92 west of Route 1 was not addressed
in traffic studies.
But Mr. Gross said that if a connector road is built
from a completed Route 92 to Route 27, it will not be because of an increase in
traffic. The road the Turnpike is proposing will have a neutral impact on
traffic conditions at Route 92's terminus at Route 1, he said.
Dianne R. Brake, president of MSM, said her
organization plans to lobby to have the highway extended once it is built. She
says putting the highway in place is an important first step.
"Will the turnpike build
Route 92 over to 206? Absolutely not," said Ms. Brake. She believes that another entity, such as the state
DOT or county governments, would most likely build the extension. She said that
the idea to build a connection to Route 206 exists, but it won't be addressed
unless Route 92 is approved.
Ms. Brake said that roads such as
Route 92 and any extension that might be built take a burden off local
"If Route 92 goes where people
want to go, then a lot more people are going to use it," said Ms. Brake. This
will benefit residents, she said.
MSM tried to broker a deal in
1991 between towns in the region that would have allowed Route 92 to be extended
to Route 27, said Ms. Brake. However, the plan never came to fruition, she said.
It would have been difficult for local politicians to endorse an extension to
Route 92 that was contingent on the approval and construction of Route 92
itself, she said.
MSM will begin working
with municipalities to try once again to work out an arrangement that would make
an extension to Route 206 possible, if it is built, she said.
"We'll get back into gear and get together with towns
to see if conditions still exist to build the connector road to continue this
project over to Route 206," she said.
Mr. Tittle said that the
approach is similar to that used in other large highwy projects. Highways are often proposed and built in short
segments to mask the environmental impact of the entire project, he said.
Mr. Tittle said routes 29 and 287 both were built in short intervals and
extended over time.
"Basically, what they do is piece-meal a highway,"
said Mr. Tittle.
"It's kind of the way of
getting around a complete environmental review."
When a group
proposes a road that's only six miles long, the impact looks minimal, said Mr.
Tittle. Then the group comes back after the initial project is completed and
proposes another short road, he said.
"It's much easier to get a little
permit to build a road than it is to get a big permit," said Mr.