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EPA Maintains Objections To Route 92; Suggests Alternative That Saves Wetlands

Release Date: 09/25/1998
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(#98130) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it will not lift its objections to a wetlands permit, currently being considered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, for the proposed Route 92. After extensive review of information submitted by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the Agency has concluded that the project would result in the unnecessary loss of wetlands. EPA, based on the recommendations of its transportation consultant, concluded that there is a practicable alternative to Route 92 that will alleviate local traffic problems -- the main stated purpose of Route 92 -- with minimal damage to wetlands in the area. Route 92, as proposed by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, would impact nearly 18 acres of freshwater wetlands, 12 of which are forested, and would divide a large contiguous 1600-acre tract of wetlands.

"There is a way to relieve the local traffic problem and save precious forested wetlands at the same time. EPA's suggested alternative to Route 92, coupled with the completion of planned traffic projects, alleviates one problem local traffic congestion - without creating another wetlands loss," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "New Jersey has lost over half of its wetlands, and we have to balance the need for development and traffic improvements with preserving the remaining wetlands. It is my intention to begin an intensive effort over the next thirty days with the State of New Jersey to come up with an alternative on which we can all agree that will address these concerns."

Specifically, the EPA's suggested alternative to Route 92 would include: improvements to Route 32 and its intersections between Route 130 and the Turnpike, as proposed by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority as part of the proposed Route 92 project, eliminating four failed intersections; the addition of a right-hand turning lane from southwest bound Dey Road to northwest bound Scudders Mill Road; the optimization of signal timing at the intersection of Ridge Road and Schalks Crossing Road during evening peak hours.

The federal Clean Water Act protects wetlands by minimizing the number of wetlands lost to development across the country. In most states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in consultation with EPA, reviews permit applications for filling in wetlands. However, the EPA has delegated the authority to issue these federal permits in nontidal waters to New Jersey and Michigan. In these two cases, EPA reviews applications for major projects to ensure that they meet federal requirements.

Before a permit is issued, the applicant must show that there is a need for the project and that it has explored all practicable alternatives to filling the wetlands. Then, the applicant must take every step necessary to avoid wetland impacts and provide compensation for any remaining, unavoidable impacts through activities to restore or create wetlands. Wetlands, particularly forested wetlands, serve as habitat for wildlife, including birds and fish and they filter runoff and adjacent surface waters to protect the water quality of our lakes, bays and rivers.

For more information contact:
Mary Mears, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3669 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: