Route 92 comment period ends
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
By TOM HESTER JR.
Staff Writer, Trenton Times
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will move toward developing a final
environmental impact statement on the proposed Route 92 after the
public comment period on the draft statement closed at 5 p.m. yesterday.
The public comment period included a May 20 hearing on the
long-proposed, much-disputed highway but people also could submit
comments via e-mail and written statements.
Richard Tomer, chief of the corps'
regulatory branch in New York, estimated the agency, which will decide
whether to issue permits that will allow the New Jersey Turnpike
Authority to build Route 92, received comments numbering "up in the
hundreds." Tomer said many of those comments were e-mails
containing the same text, similar to a form letter.
He said the comments received on the
draft environmental impact statement released in April will be
incorporated into the final statement, which would "take many months to
do." No deadline has been set for finalizing the statement, Tomer said.
The draft statement didn't include a
recommendation, but said Route 92, as proposed, would be the least
disruptive way to ease Central New Jersey traffic congestion.
The Turnpike Authority proposes building Route 92 from Route 1 near
Ridge Road in South Brunswick to Turnpike Exit 8A in Monroe.
Tomer said the final statement will
address issues, note any changes in the Route 92 plan and recommend
whether further analysis and study is needed.
The final statement will include another public comment period, lasting
at least 30 days. A final decision will come at some point after the
final statement is released, Tomer said.
Supporters argue the $400 million road would ease Route 1 congestion
and provide a much-needed east-west traffic route. But critics contend the road would attract more
vehicles to Route 1 and other local roads and destroy the environment.
The Turnpike Authority is seeking Army Corps approval to fill about 14
acres of wetlands to build the road. It has proposed creating 57 new
acres of wetlands and preserving about 200 acres of forested wetlands.
The state Department of Environmental Protection in 1999 approved plans
to fill the wetlands but the same plan was rejected by the
Environmental Protection Agency, prompting the Army Corps review. The
state permit expired earlier this year but the Turnpike Authority has
said it will reapply.
The Turnpike Authority also needs
approvals from the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission and the
Freehold Soil Conservation District to build the highway.