Environmental panel splits with Princeton elected officials over
By: David Campbell , Staff Writer
Princeton Packet, 09/24/2004
The Princeton Environmental Commission
would like Princeton Borough and Princeton Township to reconsider their
endorsement of long-delayed Route 92.
At the commission's meeting Wednesday night, members met with Ridgeview
Road resident Lincoln Hollister, a local opponent of the controversial
project, to discuss the federal Environmental Protection Agency's
opposition to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's proposed
limited-access toll road.
The EPA, in a letter submitted in July
as part of the public comment on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers'
draft environmental review of Route 92, has said that "all reasonable
alternatives have not been fully evaluated." The EPA letter went on to
say there is a potential for "significant environmental impacts" from
Route 92 has been proposed by the Turnpike Authority as an east-west
connector between turnpike Interchange 8A and Route 1 near Ridge Road
in South Brunswick. The 6.7-mile toll road would be built and managed
by the Turnpike Authority, and would cost an estimated $400 million.
The federal environmental agency said
the traffic analysis in the Army Corps' draft environmental impact
statement was flawed and incomplete, suggesting that, contrary to the
corps' conclusions, proposed Route 92 would result in increased traffic
The Army Corps released its draft document to the public in April. A
public hearing on the document was held in May at the Radisson Hotel
Princeton in South Brunswick. At those sessions, opponents of the road
vastly outnumbered those who spoke in favor of it. The majority of the
attendees were South Brunswick residents worried about traffic impacts
to their community.
The governing bodies of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough have
endorsed the Army Corps' conclusions in support of Route 92.
On Wednesday night, the Environmental
Commission said the Borough Council and Township Committee should
reconsider their position in light of the EPA's stance against the
Wendy Benchley, the Borough Council's
liaison to the commission, said an Environmental Commission
representative should appear before the council to make its case.
But Township Deputy Mayor William Enslin, the committee's liaison to
the Environmental Commission, said the timing may not be right,
pointing out that such a plea might be drowned out by other immediate
issues before the council and committee.
Environmental commission members also
called for a community roundtable like one used to resolve the
controversy surrounding the former Millstone Bypass.
They raised the idea of appealing to
outgoing Gov. James E. McGreevey, who has said he will resign in
November due to a sex scandal, to stop the road or mandate a roundtable
for Route 92. Former Gov. Christie Whitman called for a bypass
roundtable in 2000 before she left office to head up the EPA.
Environmental commission members said
the new Route 522, if a connection to the turnpike were to be built,
could serve as an alternative to Route 92, and should be considered.
The Army Corps has been working on an EIS for the roadway since 2000
because federal and state environmental agencies disagreed over whether
to issue permits for the filling of wetlands required by the project.
Conflict arose in 1999 after the state Department of Environmental
Protection issued a permit contrary to recommendations from the EPA.
Review by the Army Corps was undertaken to help resolve the matter. The
DEP's wetland permit expired in March.
In other business Wednesday night, Environmental Commission Vice
Chairwoman Barbara Simpson reported that the commission's second-annual
computer recycling day, held Sept. 11 in the township Municipal Complex
parking lot, was successful. Ms. Simpson said 345 residents -- 75 more
than last year -- turned out for drop off. About 11 tons of equipment,
1 ton more than last year, were recycled, she reported.