EDITORIAL: Public awaits Greenstein’s Route 92 stand

EDITORIAL: Republicans Bill Baroni and Peter Inverso have taken their stand on the toll road. Now, it’s her turn.

   Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein has had plenty of time to make up her mind about Route 92.
   Ms. Greenstein, a Democrat who represents South Brunswick in the Assembly, has had a long and intimate involvement with the proposed toll road that predates her election to the Assembly in 1999. She’s been involved in the debate over this roadway for about a dozen years, first as one of several hundred residents of the Princeton Collection development in Plainsboro who vocally opposed the highway back when the state handed the road over to the N.J. Turnpike Authority.
   Her involvement didn’t end there, of course. She was elected to the Plainsboro Township Committee in 1994 and became an ardent supporter of the road, joining the Democratic majority on the committee in endorsing it.
   Then, after winning election to the Assembly, Ms. Greenstein backtracked. She now has no official position on the road.
   Instead, the three-term Assemblywoman plans to sit out the debate over Route 92, waiting for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to file its environmental impact statement on the road and for an array of public hearings to be held before she will determine where she stands.
   This may seem to some a fair and measured approach to the controversial roadway. However, it is really nothing more than a way for Ms. Greenstein — as well as Gov. James McGreevey and his administration and U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, who represents South Brunswick in Congress — to avoid sticking her neck out on an issue destined to make someone in her legislative district unhappy.
   This is in stark contrast to the approach taken by her 14th District colleagues, Assemblyman Bill Baroni and state Sen. Peter Inverso. Mr. Baroni and Sen. Inverso, both Republicans, are sponsoring bills in their respective houses of the state Legislature that would revoke the Turnpike’s authority to build the 6.7-mile highway.
   The pair said the roadway offers little bang for what would be an enormous quantity of bucks — about $400 million at last count — and would have an huge impact on the environment.
   The Army Corps, which is reviewing the project because state and federal regulators could not agree on whether environmental permits should be issued, is not conducting its study from scratch. It has at its disposal a host of studies paid for and conducted by the Turnpike Authority, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the local towns involved and an array of comments from residents and officials on both sides of the issue.
   The Army Corps is not reinventing the wheel here. And the chances that the Army Corps will offer some bit of wisdom not already discussed ad nauseam by partisans on either side of the Route 92 battle is rather slim and is unlikely to change anyone’s minds about the project.
   Ms. Greenstein should know this. After more than a decade of intense involvement with this debate, we think she has a responsibility to say where she stands.