State delays Route 92 report
By: Gwen McNamara , Staff Writer 06/06/2003
Smart-growth review to be conducted.
It looks like those seeking details on the proposed Route 92 will have
to wait a while longer to check out the roadway's draft environmental
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has
requested a delay in the release of the document so the state
Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection
and governor's office can review it.
"We want to make sure all smart-growth
and land-use issues are properly addressed," said Joseph Orlando,
Turnpike Authority spokesman. "It's an important project and we want to
make sure all criteria are met and potential uses evaluated. It just
seemed like the right thing to do."
Route 92 has long been proposed by the Turnpike Authority to connect
the New Jersey Turnpike at exit 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 Army Corps of Engineers has been working on an environmental impact
statement for the roadway since 2000 in order to determine whether to
issue a wetland permit to the Turnpike Authority for the project.
Conflict initially arose in 1999 after the DEP issued the permit
against recommendations from the federal Environmental Protection
Until recently, the Army Corps expected to release a draft EIS in May.
"But with the state's new smart-growth and land-use initiatives and
recent perspectives, the Turnpike Authority wants to make sure these new
ideas are factored into the EIS," said Pete Shugert, Army Corps
spokesman. "We have agreed to delay releasing the draft and expect this
new review to take no more than three months."
The delay has not discouraged supporters of the project and is being
hailed as a step in the right direction by opponents of the roadway.
"It's not a problem," said Anthony Pizzutillo, of 92NOW, an
organization supporting the construction of Route 92. "If the
administration needs a couple more months to assure this project
complements smart-growth philosophy, then we're 100 percent for it."
"The roadway would connect two areas of growth," added Plainsboro Mayor
Peter Cantu, a Route 92 advocate. "And in Plainsboro, we've preserved
all the land that would abut it to prevent development. If properly
used, the roadway could really represent what is meant by the state's
Representatives of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a
transportation watchdog group long opposed to Route 92, are happy that
smart-growth and land-use issues are being examined, but disagree with
the mayor's assessment.
"We believe the highway will promote sprawl and traffic growth, instead
of solving such problems," said Kate Slevin, Tri-State representative.
Barbara Lawrence of New Jersey Future, a smart-growth advocacy group,
also sees the new review as positive.
"We have no position on Route 92," she stressed. "But transportation
decisions must not be made without looking at land use. Otherwise we'll
never get out of the fix we're in. If that's what the Turnpike Authority
is going for, then I think it's a good idea."
Once the draft EIS is released, there will be a 45-day public comment
period. The Army Corps is expected to incorporate public comment into
its decision on the wetland permit. Ultimate approval of the entire
project will be up to Gov. James E. McGreevey.
The DOT and DEP did not return calls for comment.
E.J. Miranda of the state Department of Community Affairs said the
department's Office of Smart Growth will not comment until "it has a
chance to thoroughly review the EIS."