Rt. 92 Background

The History of Route 92

Route 92 has had a tortured history, in part because it is so unpopular and so unnecessary.  Originally the responsibility of the NJDOT, which was unwilling to build it, Rt. 92 shifted to the N.J.. Turnpike Authority in 1992 by a bill sponsored by Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu (then an assemblyman). The bill directed that the highway be built along an alignment between the Turnpike’s Exit 8A and the Ridge Road intersection at Rt. 1, a request so specific that a valid alternatives analysis would have been impossible. 

The Turnpike Authority released an Environmental Assessment that was widely viewed as inadequate. Multiple objections were submitted by the US Environmental Protection Agency, municipalities, environmental groups, and citizens.  At hearings in 1997

Friendship Road, near Haypress, at sunrise ― near the alignment of Route 92.

convened by USEPA and 1999 convened by the Corps, hundreds of speakers from a broad range of interests argued against the project.  At some point, wanting little to do with the permitting for the project, the NJDEP turned over authority to the Corps for processing of a federal wetlands permit. 

Despite design modifications that reduced the acreage of wetland filled and impacted, the USEPA affirmed its objections to the project in September 1998.  Similarly, even after the redesign, a May 1999 letter from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service stated that the project “would result in unacceptable adverse impacts to fish and wildlife resources and their supporting ecosystems.”  Later in 1999, the Corps thankfully found the highway project to be a major federal action requiring a full EIS, the draft of which is about to be released. Plainsboro and West Windsor remain some of the only munipalities from the area to continue to wholeheartedly support the construction of Rt. 92 in the face of widespread public opposition, not realizing the local traffic impact it may create within their borders.

While the Corps will ultimately decide whether to issue the wetlands fill permit required before construction can begin, the decision about Route 92 ultimately falls on Governor Corzine. Why? Because the State Dept. of Environmental Protection has to issue (or decide not to issue) a water quality certificate before the Corps will even consider the wetlands fill permit. In addition, according to Corps-regulations, that agency cannot fail to issue a wetlands fill permit if the project has the Governor’s full support.

The only exception to this policy is via the authority of the Washington D.C. office of the Corps an unlikely circumstance given the relatively small nature of the project. On March 29, 1999, then-NJ Governor Christie Todd Whitman informed the Corps that she was in full support of the construction of Route 92, saying that “the New Jersey Turnpike has proposed an alignment which minimizes impacts to wetland resources while providing a solution to the unacceptable congestion on the local road system.” Governor Corzine has not yet reversed this official position of the Governor’s office, allowing Governor Whitman’s approval to stand, and virtually ensuring the issuance of the Corps permit.

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