Council moves to make roads safer for all

   It’s been a long time since Route 92 has been in the news.
   The 6.7-mile limited-access toll road, which would connect Exit 8A and Route 1, currently is under review by the federal Army Corps of Engineers to determine if federal environmental permits should be issued. The agency is expected to issue its finding shortly, though officials with the Army Corps have not said when.
   But that does not mean we should remain silent while we are waiting.
   South Brunswick residents and other opponents of the toll road need to start making noise, pressing the new governor and his cabinet to come out against Route 92. To date, Gov. James E. McGreevey, new Transportation Commissioner James P. Fox and new Environmental Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell have not said where they stand on the highway.
   Residents need to write letters and send faxes and e-mails to Gov. McGreevey, Mr. Fox and Mr. Campbell, to the Assembly and Senate majority offices and Assembly members Gary Guear and Linda Greenstein and state Sen. Peter Inverso. (Mr. Guear is the only local legislator on record in opposition to Route 92.)
   They need to bring the issue back to public attention, force Assembly and Senate hearings and then testify about the effects the highway will have on their way of life.
   The DEP announced last month that a study of wetlands mitigation in the state showed that the program has not been working. Wetlands mitigation is a key component of the N.J. Turnpike Authority’s application for environmental permits. It plans to fill about 15 acres of wetlands for the project, creating new wetlands elsewhere on the property.
   But according to the study, the mitigation program is showing a net loss of wetlands rather than a net gain, as state law requires. The state’s Freshwater Wetlands Act allows builders to fill wetlands provided they create 2 acres of new wetlands for every acre they fill. However, according to the DEP report, only three-quarters of an acre of new wetlands was created for every acre that was filled. The problem was most severe, according to the report, when forested wetlands were filled, the kind that would be lost to construction of Route 92.
   South Brunswick needs to get busy again. Residents and town officials need to be loud. Route 92 will have devastating effects on the community, chewing up open space and farmland on the eastern side of town and dumping an increased amount of traffic into the village of Kingston.
   We need to reactivate the coalition we formed with statewide environmental and taxpayer watchdog groups and build new alliances with other towns and regions experiencing the same kinds of traffic woes. Towns like Hillsborough, Montgomery and the Hopewells have expressed concern that traffic — and trucks in particular — seeking to get to Route 206 and Route 31 and points farther north from the Turnpike will be encouraged to cut through their communities, defeating their own efforts to limit the number of tractor-trailers that trek through the area. And they also are concerned that the existence of a Turnpike spur could lead to moves to extend it west and north.
   By working with these groups and residents from other communities, South Brunswick can demonstrate that it is concerned not only about its own backyard, but the backyards of others.
   Let’s make our voices heard. It’s up to us to stop Route 92 from becoming a reality.