Route 92's journey continues
By: David Campbell , Staff Writer
Princeton Packet, 04/23/2004
Draft environmental impact statement released.
The draft environmental impact statement of long-delayed Route 92 is
now available to the public for review.
A public hearing on the document is scheduled for May 20 at the
Radisson Hotel Princeton off Route 1 in South Brunswick from 2 to 5
p.m., and from 7 p.m. to midnight, according to the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, which prepared the draft document.
The Army Corps will continue to accept written comment on the draft EIS
through June 14, said Richard Tomer, who heads the Army Corps'
regulatory branch in New York.
The draft document makes no formal recommendation. It evaluates
possible environmental impacts from the proposed highway and analyzes
several alternatives to the project. Alternatives include a no-build
option; measures like ride sharing, flex hours and public transit; and
improved capacity to existing local and county roads and regional
roadways like Route 1.
Plainsboro Township Mayor Peter Cantu said township officials are
"delighted" the draft EIS has finally been released. He said it appears
to support Plainsboro's longstanding belief that a road is needed to
alleviate congestion, and that the Route 92 alignment is the best one.
"This really serves to provide a balanced review of alternatives and
makes a case for the preferred alternative," Mayor Cantu said.
West Windsor Township Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh, whose community, like
Plainsboro, is among several in the region that support Route 92, said
he has yet to thoroughly read the draft document.
But he noted, "No matter what you try
to do, there always will be environmental impacts. The question here is
whether they can be mitigated."
The West Windsor mayor has said Route 92 will benefit the region by
providing a needed east-west connection between the turnpike and Route
Tyler Burke of Tri-State
Transportation Campaign, an advocacy group opposed to the proposed
roadway on the basis that it would become a magnet for traffic and
sprawl, said Wednesday his organization plans to review the draft
document and give comments next month.
"Our opinion of the project is as it
has always been — it's a very destructive project," Mr. Burke
said. "Given Gov. James McGreevey's
stated commitment to stopping sprawl in New Jersey, he should put a
swift end to the road."
Findings in the final environmental document will be used by the Army
Corps to make a decision on whether permitting for the road should be
allowed. The corps will evaluate the public input and undertake any
further analysis or studies that may be necessary, Mr. Tomer said.
"A number of alternatives really were discounted after going through
the screening process, for environmental or other reasons," he said of
the draft EIS. "There's always a
chance of another alternative (to Route 92) being selected. The draft
EIS doesn't rule that out, certainly."
The draft EIS is available for review at the public libraries in
Plainsboro Township and South Brunswick. The document can also be
viewed with an appointment at the state Department of Environmental
Protection's Information Resource Center in Trenton.
Route 92 has long been proposed by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to
connect the New Jersey Turnpike at Interchange 8A to Route 1 near Ridge
Road in South Brunswick. The 6.7-mile limited-access roadway would be
built and managed by the Turnpike Authority.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 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 initially arose in 1999 after
the DEP issued a permit, valid for five years under the Clean Water
Act, contrary to recommendations from the federal Environmental
Protection Agency. Review by the Army Corps was undertaken to
help resolve the matter.
The DEP's wetland permit expired in March. A DEP spokeswoman said
Commissioner Bradley Campbell will not make a final determination on
whether to issue a new permit until he has had a chance to review the
A spokesman for the Turnpike Authority has said the agency plans to
reapply once it revises its proposal to comply with new DEP stormwater
Joe Orlando, the spokesman, was unavailable for comment on the newly
released Army Corps draft EIS.