Turnpike cancels Route 92
By: Joseph Harvie, Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post, 12/07/2006
Focus to go towards Turnpike widening
After years of debates, studies and
engineering reports, the N.J. Turnpike Authority has officially
canceled the proposed Route 92 project.
The N.J. Turnpike Authority, in a Dec. 1 letter to the state Department
of Environmental Protection, said it has decided to shift its focus from the
proposed 6.7-mile limited-access toll road to a planned widening of the Turnpike
from exits 6 to 9.
"Now that we are moving forward on the
widening project — the largest expansion of the Turnpike since it was
built over 50 years ago — we have decided to cancel the Route 92
project," turnpike Executive Director Michael Lapolla said in
The letter was sent to the DEP to officially
withdraw applications for wetlands and stream-crossing permits
needed from the agency to allow the N.J. Turnpike Authority to build
N.J. Turnpike Authority spokesman Joe
Orlando confirmed in a Wednesday afternoon telephone interview that the
authority was canceling the project.
The decision comes a year after the Turnpike Authority shifted $175
million of the $181 million set aside for Route 92 to the turnpike
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also
will halt work on the environmental impact statement, corps
spokeswoman Sue Hopkins said Wednesday. She said the corps received a copy of the letter
sent to the DEP and is waiting for a similar letter from the Turnpike
Authority to formally end work on the EIS.
The Army Corps was reviewing the road because state and federal
environmental agencies could not agree on whether permits should be
issued. The DEP planned to issue
permits, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency rejected them,
saying other, less intrusive alternatives exist.
South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese called the Turnpike's decision good news. He said Monday that the
end of Route 92 is a victory for the
"This is what we've been waiting for,
for the past 14 years," Mayor Gambatese said. "Not only has the road been de-funded, the
Turnpike is saying, now, not to build the road."
He said that the cancellation of the project would also put about 100 acres in the right-of-way for
the proposed road near Friendship Road, back into the hands of farmers.
In addition, he said it could free up
other land set aside for the project.
"Now they can do some planting, and it
frees up the rest of the land that was set aside for the road,"
Mayor Gambatese said.
Assemblyman Bill Baroni, a Republican whose district includes South
Brunswick, said that the cancellation
of the road is an important victory for the people of South Brunswick.
"In the end this is about a group of
neighbors who rallied together across party lines, across ideological
lines and proved that this is the wrong road in the wrong place, at the
wrong time," Mr. Baroni said.
Mr. Baroni said that he would continue
to push legislation that would strip authorization for the road from
"It seems very clear the road is not
going to happen," Mr. Baroni said. "But I'm an old-fashioned believer in check
and confirm or 'trust but verify' to quote (Ronald) Reagan. I'm going
to keep this legislation out there just in case we need to fight for
State Sen. Peter Inverso, a
Republican whose district includes South Brunswick, said that he was happy the Turnpike decided
to cancel the road, because it would have been too expensive to build.
In addition, he said that he would
also keep the Senate version of Mr. Baroni's legislation active,
just in case it is needed.
"I'll definitely keep it in place,"
he said. "We don't control the
process, so we would have to muster some support to get it moved. But
we'll keep it in there. It is good until the end of next year."
Kingston resident Steve Masticola, a founder of No 92, said the news was good for the residents of South
Brunswick, especially those in Kingston. He said that the road has made municipalities in the
area hesitant to work with one another over the years and that they now
should be able to work together to come up with a transportation
"This area has some of the best brains
in country," Mr. Masticola said. "We need to put them to work to make a
transportation system that works. And they should bear the burdens
fairly. The communities pushing for new roads, should have to bear
Former township Mayor Howard Bellizio, a longtime supporter of the
road, said at a Township Council meeting Tuesday that he would like to see the township ask the
state and Turnpike Authority about acquiring the land that had been set
aside for the right-of-way for Route 92.
Mr. Bellizio said that some of the
land could be used to put overpasses at the intersections of Route 130
and Friendship Road near the park-and-ride on Route 130 and at Route 1
and Ridge Road.
Mayor Gambatese said the township has
sent out requests to the DEP and the Turnpike Authority to have the
land in the right-of-way turned over to the township.
Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu called
the decision to cancel the project "a mistake" because the Route 1 corridor has been targeted for
development, and Route 92 was a critical piece of the infrastructure
that should have been put in place to support that development.
"It is what it is and we have to move on from here," Mayor Cantu said.
"We're disappointed, and we think it's a decision that the state will
Packet Group writers Courtney Gross and Molly Petrilla contributed to