Rt. 92 report lacks direction

Home News Tribune Online 10/6/06
dstegon@thnt. com

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Route 92 yesterday, but declined to give a recommendation for or against the project until a public comment period ends Nov. 14.

South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese said the corps' reluctance to give a recommendation is a reflection of a lack of funds for the more-than-decade-old proposal that would build a 6.7-mile limited access toll highway connecting Route 1 and the New Jersey Turnpike, but would require the removal of several acres of wetlands. The road as proposed is located in South Brunswick, Plainsboro and Monroe.

"Hopefully this will finally put the project to rest," Gambatese said. "This is pure conjecture, but my guess is that the corps thinks there is no backing for the project and does not want to make a stand."

Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the report of more than 2,500 pages gives a summary of the issues facing the building of the roadway, but does not make strong cases for or against the project.

"I think it's pretty weak," Tittel said. "The only concern is that, in some way, this will keep the project alive, as it could give builders justification for obtaining permits, but that's about all. It's just another step in what has been a long process."

Gambatese said the project, which was first proposed in the early 1990s, was projected to cost $350 million in 2000. He said the cost has likely risen to between $600 million and $700 million if construction was to begin today.

Opponents of the roadway say it will bring increased traffic to the area along with larger retail stores.

Proponents of the project say it will make it easier to travel between Route 1 and the New Jersey Turnpike.

David Stegon: (732) 565-7251; dstegon@thnt.com