Turnpike eyes new permits

By: Matthew Kirdahy , Staff Writer
South Brunswick Post,  04/15/2004

With previous permits expired, new ones needed before Route 92 can move ahead.

The N.J. Turnpike Authority said Monday it would reapply to the state Department of Environmental Protection for permits needed to build Route 92.

The permits are needed because building the proposed 6.7-mile limited-access toll road would involve filling wetlands. Previous permits issued by the state expired March 29.

Joseph Orlando, a Turnpike Authority spokesperson, said the Turnpike would apply for new permits, but he couldn't say when that would happen.

"We don't have a time frame because the regulations have changed since the initial permits were taken out," Mr. Orlando said. "We want to make sure we're up to standard on the regulations."

The DEP has said it would wait for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete its draft Environmental Impact Statement before it issues new five-year permits. The Army Corps has said it is uncertain when the draft EIS will be released.

To issue new permits, the DEP would have to accept comments from the public and would likely hold public hearings, said DEP spokeswomen Mary Helen Cervantes.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency refused to give the Turnpike Authority permits in 1998, saying there were less environmentally disruptive alternatives to the road, while the state DEP issued permits in 1999.

Route 92 is a limited access toll road that would run from Turnpike Exit 8A to Route 1 at Ridge Road. South Brunswick officials and some residents oppose the road because they say it will attract more traffic to the area and would be harmful to the environment.

The required DEP permits include freshwater wetlands, water quality certificates and stream encroachment permits.

The Army Corps is conducting a review of the road because federal and state environmental agencies disagree over whether permits should be issued for the filling of wetlands.

The Army Corps will continue its review while the turnpike reapplies for permits. Opponents of Route 92 have said they hope the Army Corps review will prove that a toll road is unnecessary.