Sierra Club: State still on the road to sprawl
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
By LARRY HANOVER
Club's New Jersey chapter yesterday criticized the proposed Millstone Bypass and
Route 92 projects and the completed Route 29
tunnel project as examples of
transportation projects that promote sprawl.
Jeff Tittel, director of the
Sierra Club chapter, said the projects illustrate that although the McGreevey
administration is making progress on "smart growth," it can do
"While the commissioner (James
Fox) says they're fighting sprawl, the agency is still marching down the sprawl
path," Tittel said.
Department of Transportation spokesman Micah
Rasmussen defended the agency, saying it has largely gotten out of the business
new highways, which can promote sprawling development. It is
focusing on bridge and road repairs and public transit, he said.
there's a vast amount of agreement with Sierra and us," Rasmussen
The Millstone Bypass and Route 92 projects are the subjects of
environmental impact statements. Tittel
criticized the state for
budgeting money for road design and land acquisition
even though study findings have yet to be issued.
With the studies
ongoing, Rasmussen said, DOT has no crystal ball on whether the projects will
move forward. The agency is working with the communities, he added.
for the $105 million Route 29 tunnel, Rasmussen said: "We can understand where
they're coming from, but it's already built and open
to traffic. The tunnel
is something we inherited and not something this administration decided to
build, but this administration was left with the responsibility to open and
The Millstone Bypass, a 2.5-mile long road, is eyed as a way
to remove four traffic lights on Route 1 and ease congestion. It would
traffic from Route 571 in West Windsor near the Princeton Junction
train tracks and cross Route 1 before rejoining Route 571 (Washington Road) east
of Princeton Borough.
The Sierra Club is upset about the possible loss of
a number of trees along the historic Elm Allee on Washington Road.
estimated $350 million Route 92 project would stretch between Turnpike Exit 8A
in Monroe to Route 1 just south of Ridge Road in
club is concerned that the highway would cut
through the last remaining open-space tracts in southern Middlesex County and
fill in more than 14 acres of wetlands. It said it would open up new areas of
Central Jersey to sprawling development.
The club criticized the
tunnel as causing ecological damage to the Delaware River by filling in part of
the river bed.
The Sierra Club listed three other projects as poor
transportation proposals: a $200 million Route 206 bypass under way in
Hillsborough; an expansion of Route 15 connecting Interstate 80 in Morris County
to Route 206 in Sussex County and an extension of Route 55 through Cape May
Rasmussen said the state is in complete agreement on Route 55 and
is not pursuing it.