South Brunswick sets up fund to fight Turnpike spur
By: Rebecca Tokarz , Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post, 02/12/2004
Township places $50,000 in "No 92 Legal Trust Fund."
The Township Council has created a trust fund to help fund its fight
against Route 92.
Mayor Frank Gambatese said Wednesday
that the township has placed
$50,000 in the trust fund, called "No 92 Legal Trust Fund," and will
continue to place money into the account as long as it's needed.
township is encouraging other municipalities and township residents to
support the fund as well.
In addition, Assemblyman Bill Baroni
and state Sen. Peter Inverso, Republicans who represent South
Brunswick, announced legislation Wednesday that calls for the repeal of
the N.J. Turnpike Authority's authorization to build Route 92.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which is required to review the project
because of a disagreement over permitting between state and federal
regulators, is currently in the process of writing an environmental
impact statement about the proposal. A draft preliminary environmental
impact statement had been distributed to state officials for feedback,
including the Department of Transportation, the N.J. Turnpike Authority
and the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Army Corps of Engineers
spokesman Richard Tomar said Wednesday the group is looking at a
possible March or April release date on the EIS.
Route 92 is a
proposed 6.7-mile, limited-access roadway that would link Route 1 near
Ridge Road with the N.J. Turnpike at Exit 8A. The proposed roadway
would cut through the northern tip of Plainsboro and run east to west
through much of South Brunswick along Friendship Road.
legislators to help with this fight. We've been fighting this for
years," Mayor Gambatese said. "It has been displayed to us that this
road is still being considered and a decision will be made very soon.
We can't do this alone. We will fight this to the death. We're prepared
to fight this in court."
The mayor's comments came during a
press conference held by Assemblyman Baroni and Sen. Inverso. The press
conference was held on a piece of farmland on Friendship Road on
Mayor Gambatese said the trust fund is an
extension of a township fund that is used for litigation. The "No 92
Trust Fund" is a separate fund that will be used for legal costs
related to fighting the proposed roadway.
He said the township's
opposition to Route 92 has cost a significant amount of money, but
couldn't pinpoint the exact amount. He said the trust fund would be
used to retain the services of New York City attorney Michael Gererd.
Mayor Gambatese said he anticipates a legal battle that could prove
costly if recommendations are made to build the highway.
township recently took $50,000 from the litigation fund of the budget
and placed it in the Route 92 fund, Mayor Gambatese said.
He said additional money would be
placed into the fund accordingly.
Citing the environmental impact and the potential for increased
traffic congestion the proposed roadway would have in the area, the
pair announced the introduction of legislation Wednesday that would
stop the construction of Route 92.
The legislation, which has
been referred to the state Senate and Assembly Transportation
Committees, would revoke the Turnpike Authority's authorization to
build the roadway. The Turnpike was given authority to build the road,
originally proposed by the DOT, in 1991.
Also in attendance were
members of the state Sierra Club and the Tri-State Transportation
Campaign, members of the Township Council, Franklin Township
Councilwoman Shirley Eberle and a handful of the public.
Army Corp of Engineers is conducting an environmental review of the
proposed road because the construction of Route 92 would require
filling in wetlands.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency
refused environmental permits for the highway in 1998. The state
Department of Environmental Protection, however, issued permits for it
he Army Corps of Engineers is required to review the
project because of the disagreement. The Army Corps reviewed the
project and determined that an environmental impact statement was
Officials said South Brunswick has
done its part to
help ease traffic congestion woes in the area with the construction of
Route 522 and the estimated $400 million price tag for the roadway
would be better used elsewhere.
They said the first issue that
needs to be addressed is the congestion problems that exist on Route 1
and funding would be better spent widening that roadway.
the project was first proposed it appeared to have merit. But the
estimated cost has skyrocketed far beyond what was envisioned, and the
highway's impact on the environment may be more significant than we
believed," Sen. Inverso said. "When you add these concerns to New
Jersey's current transportation funding problems, there appears to be
no justification for constructing the highway."
Linda Greenstein, a Democrat who represents South Brunswick, did not
attend the press conference. She said she was not taking a position on
the road until after the EIS is released and public hearings are held.
She wants to see what the Army Corps says about other road
alternatives, such as Route 522 and a new connection between the N.J.
Turnpike and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
She says she supports ways to improve mass transit, but would not rule
out Route 92.
"We can't completely avoid looking at East/West solutions," she said.