This 1976 map shows the approximate route of the proposed NJ 92 Freeway. The alignment was shifted north and shortened to US 1 in 1988, but the route continues to face significant opposition. (Map © 1976 by H.M. Gousha, supplied by Scott Colbert.

WILL THERE BE A NEW ROUTE 92? For more than three decades, officials had planned to construct a new NJ 92 Freeway through the Princeton-Hightstown area, but did not have much success beyond the planning stages. The New York Times discussed the history of this freeway in the following 1997 excerpt:

The proposed Route 92 has been on the drawing boards in New Jersey for 60 years, its path changing so much through time that the original planners would barely recognize it. After all this time, it is a road plan that is still dodging those who would make it road kill… Now it is the state's last major uncompleted road project.

In 1988, the NJDOT proposed a new northerly alignment for the freeway, extending 13 miles west from its terminus at EXIT 8A of the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) in South Brunswick to US 206 near Princeton. It was to be constructed with funds from the unbuilt Somerset Freeway (I-95), which had been de-designated in 1982. The NJDOT stated that "the northerly alignment adds more to the statewide transportation system than the other (current NJ 133 alignment) does."

In 1992, the New Jersey State Legislature formally transferred the proposed NJ 92 Freeway from the NJDOT ("which wanted the road built but could not pay for it") to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA). Two years later, the NJTA completed a draft environmental impact statement for the new NJ 92 Turnpike Extension. In its latest incarnation, the route of NJ 92 was shortened: it was to extend 6.7 miles west from the turnpike mainline (at EXIT 8A) in South Brunswick to US 1 near Monmouth Junction, with an interchange at US 130 in South Brunswick. (The extension west to NJ 27 and US 206 had been dropped.) The turnpike spur originally was estimated to cost $300 million.

Frank X. McDermott, chairman of the NJTA, defended his motivation for building the NJ 92 Turnpike Extension as follows:

We have to keep building highways, even though some people think the turnpike (authority) wants to pave the state from the ocean to the Delaware River… and an east-west road is still needed from Route 1 to the turnpike.

Opposition to NJ 92 shifted north along with the new alignment. Residents in South Brunswick feared that the proposed turnpike spur would divide their community, promote suburban sprawl and generate more traffic. Environmentalists decried the potential loss of 33 acres of wetlands and the encroachment on open space. Owing to these factors, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went on record as opposing the project, once in January 1997 and again in October 1998.

The following letter by Joseph Kowalski of Hopewell, Mercer County, notes that the detrimental effects of NJ 92 would extend beyond the immediate South Brunswick area:

Route 92 would only shift, not alleviate, the traffic problems in our area. It is time for regional solutions. Route 92 is not one of them.

In addition to environmental land use degradation in the immediate area, I am concerned about the secondary truck traffic that Route 92 would bring to corridors like Route 518, 206, 31, 202, 78, and 287. Since Route 92 would terminate at Route 1, it would facilitate access for trucks seeking a "free" trip north and west to the I-78 / I-287 corridor and elsewhere, cutting through rural and suburban communities such as Kingston, Rocky Hill, Montgomery, and Hillsborough along the way

Proponents of the proposed NJ 92, including Governor Christine Whitman and officials in Mercer and Monmouth counties, contended that the highway would spur economic activity and relieve congestion on feeder routes. To gain the support of environmentalists, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority amended the project so as to create an extended elevated section over Devil's Brook, effectively taking only take 18 acres of wetlands (later reduced to 14 acres). It also planned to create 57 acres of new wetlands to replace those that would be lost. The amended proposal gained the support of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), but not the EPA.

In January 1999, the NJTA filed a Section 404 permit with the Army Corps of Engineers for the construction of the NJ 92 Turnpike Extension. From the New Jersey Turnpike Authority press release:

"In a continuing effort to reduce the environmental impact of this regional highway project, the engineering design has been modified so that the permanent wetlands impact has been reduced from 18.4 to 14.4 acres," said Edward Gross, Executive Director of the Turnpike Authority. "The two primary design modifications are a reduction in the width of the median through the Devil's Brook forested wetlands area and the elimination of an "official use only" grade-separated U-turn. The balance of the application is consistent with the numerous documents previously submitted to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection," said Gross.

"Notwithstanding the desirability for the wider median and U-turn for greater road safety, the importance of Route 92 to the improvement of regional transportation in central New Jersey by diverting through truck and passenger car traffic from US 1 and local roadways to the New Jersey Turnpike and reducing traffic congestion on local roadways has led the Authority to provide further design modifications to reduce permanent wetlands impacts," said the Authority's Chairman Frank X. McDermott. "We hope that this effort will produce the regulatory permits from both the Army Corps and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; thus, allowing the construction of this limited access highway," concluded McDermott.

Peter Samuel, publisher of the monthly
Tolls Roads Newsletter, said the following about the NJ 92 project:

Both state and local governments support this project. This project gathered wide political support, because it would channel traffic from an overcrowded US 1 onto the New Jersey Turnpike going north-south. The Route 92 spur could be open today. But repeated calls for more studies, led by the EPA and its allies, have delayed the project by four or five years.

In February 2000, the Army Corps of Engineers ordered the NJTA to conduct an environmental impact study (EIS) on the proposed NJ 92 Turnpike Extension. The study, which could take up to two years to complete and cost as much as $5 million, will be used to help the Corps of Engineers reach a final decision on whether to grant the Turnpike Authority a permit to construct the road. Opponents hailed this decision in the belief that the EIS will support their contention that the road is "unnecessary," "an environmental hazard" and "a private driveway to the Forrestal Center" (a shopping and office complex in Plainsboro).

Four months later, the Corps held a "scoping meeting" to determine which issues needed to be taken into account when drafting the new EIS. Public comments were taken from both sides of the issue, but at the meeting, it was a debate between pro-92 forces in Plainsboro and anti-92 forces in South Brunswick. The Corps does not intend to take public comment on the merits of the Route 92 project until the EIS is completed.

Around this time, an editorial in
News 12-New Jersey suggested establishing four-lane Middlesex CR 522, not the NJ 92 Turnpike Extension, as the primary east-west route through the area. However, Edward Gross, the executive director of the NJTA, explained why the use of Middlesex CR 522 would not be such a good idea as follows:

The availability of Route 522 was included in the Route 92 study. By 2015, Route 92 will serve 32,000 vehicles per day (AADT), relieving substantial congestion on local roads. Route 522 is a local service road built in a residential area, while Route 92 is designed as a high-speed, limited-access highway. The local road could accommodate only 1,500 of the 32,000 vehicles expected to use Route 92. For Route 522 to replace Route 92 and maintain an acceptable level of service, it would need to be expanded from four to six lanes and connected to the New Jersey Turnpike. This would severely impact valuable wetlands and many homes. Finally, the New Jersey Motor Truck Association has publicly supported Route 92 and its proposed tolls.

Upon completion, officials predicted that NJ 92 would handle as much as 35,000 vehicles per day (AADT).

A LAST-DITCH EFFORT FAILS: In December 2003, the Army Corps of Engineers approved the draft environmental impact statement for the NJ 92 project, but state and Federal environmental agencies still disagree on whether permits should be issued to fill in wetlands for the route. Hearings on the Corps' decision were held in May 2004 before a hostile public.

In November 2005, the NJTA reallocated all but $6.5 million for NJ 92 to widening projects along the New Jersey Turnpike in central and southern New Jersey, effectively dashing hopes for the new highway. The Corps' final environmental impact statement in October 2006 came with no recommended alternative despite an exhaustive review of all possible alternatives, leaving the future of NJ 92 in Limbo. The final nail in the coffin came on December 1, 2006, when the NJTA formally cancelled plans for NJ 92 and withdrew environmental permits for the project.

From 1992 through 2006, the NJTA spent more than $30 million on engineering and environmental studies, as well as on public hearings, for NJ 92. During this period, the cost of NJ 92 had risen by one-third to $400 million.

These 2005 photos show the NJ 92 right-of-way crossing NJ 27 (Lincoln Highway) in the Kingston section of South Brunswick Township. The NJ 92 extension west of US 1 already had been cancelled when the NJDOT transferred the project to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority in 1992. However, the state still owns this land. In 2006, the NJTA canceled NJ 92 in its entirety. (Photos by Lou Corsaro,

SOURCES: Regional Highways: Status Report, Tri-State Transportation Commission (1962); Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan, Tri-State Transportation Commission (1966); New Jersey Highway Facts, New Jersey Department of Transportation (1967); "Public Hearing for Proposed Route 92 Freeway," New Jersey State Legislature (12/17/1991); "Time Expires for DEP Review of Route 92" by Sue Epstein, The Star-Ledger (10/27/1998); "State Backs Plan for Hotly Debated Toll Road Linking Route 1 with Turnpike" by Sue Epstein, The Star-Ledger (3/30/1999); "Turnpike Consents to Study of Route 92" by Sue Epstein, The Star-Ledger (2/08/2000); "Residents Voice Opinions on Route 92" by Albert Raboteau, The Trenton Times (6/09/2000); "Highway 92: Editorial Reply" by Edward Gross, News 12-New Jersey (8/11/2000); "Route 92 Study Won't Be Done Until This Fall" by Sue Epstein, The Star-Ledger (6/11/2002); "Market-Based Solutions for Peak-Hour Congestion in the Trenton-New Brunswick Route 1 Corridor" by Meghan K. Fehlig, Princeton University (2002); "A Road Paved with Good Intentions" by John Sullivan, The New York Times (12/21/2003); "Army Completes Route 92 Draft" by Sharlee Joy DiMenichi, The South Brunswick Post (12/31/2003); "Route 92 Plan Loses Funding" by Jonathan Tamari, The Asbury Park Press (11/30/2005); "Route 92 Report Is Puzzling to Many" by Hillary Parker, The South Brunswick Post (10/05/2006); "Turnpike Won't Add Toll Link to Route 1," The Asbury Park Press (12/02/2006); New Jersey Turnpike Authority; Tri-State Transportation Campaign; Washington Crossing Audubon Society; Phil Case; Scott Colbert; Lou Corsaro; Daniel T. Dey; Raymond C. Martin; Dan Moraseski; Eric Smith; Randal Wilson; William F. Yurasko.

  • NJ 92 shield by Ralph Herman.
  • New Jersey Turnpike shield by New Jersey Turnpike Authority.


Back to The Roads of Metro New York home page.

Site contents © by Eastern Roads. This is not an official site run by a government agency. Recommendations provided on this site are strictly those of the author and contributors, not of any government or corporate entity.