Sierra Club: Road projects environmentally unfriendly
Associated Press Newswires
Copyright 2002. The Associated Press. All
TRENTON, N.J.(AP) - Several pending state
transportation projects will heighten traffic problems and increase pollution
and sprawl, a representative of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club said
The Sierra Club cited the extension of Route 55, the expansion
of Route 15, the Hillsborough bypass, the Trenton tunnel, the Millstone bypass,
and the proposed Route 92 as environmentally
But a spokesman for the state Department of
Transportation said the administration has no plans to enact many of the
projects that concerned the Sierra Club. Micah Rasmussen promised no plans would
move forward without full community consultation and a review of any project's
The Sierra Club's announcement came the same day
that the national Sierra Club released a report on transportation planning
across the country.
"We shouldn't spend
billions of taxpayer dollars on new highways that will gobble up open spaces,
destroy wetlands, and create new traffic corridors," said Jeff Tittel,
executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
The potential projects
are a mixture of state and federally-funded efforts.
Tittel said any
expansion of Route 55 would cut through environmentally sensitive areas and
He also said the Trenton tunnel, the only project actually
completed, was one of the most wasteful projects in the country. Tittel said it
caused tremendous ecological damage to the neighboring Delaware River.
Despite the McGreevey administration
coming out against sprawl, Tittel said, project design and engineering continues
to move forward.
"This is going to be a test for the administration,"
Tittel said. "Are they going to stand up for smart growth or are we going to get
run over by more sprawl highways?"
Rasmussen said the
administration and the DOT are in complete agreement with the Sierra Club.
"This DOT commissioner, this governor, and this department are focused
on public transportation, curbing sprawl, and fixing existing roads first,"
Rasmussen said. "This department is almost entirely out of the new highway
Rasmussen said the department has no plans to extend Route 55
into environmental sensitive areas.