American Littoral Society
Pinelands Preservation Alliance
Save Barnegat Bay
Sierra Club of New Jersey
Tri-State Transportation Campaign

For immediate release: February 7, 2007

Contact:
Damien Newton, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
201-655-5113

Jon Orcutt, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
212-268-7474

Susan Kennedy, American Littoral Society
609-656-0731

Jeff Tittel, Sierra Club of New Jersey
609-656-7612

Helen Henderson, Save Barnegat Bay
732-830-3600

Theresa Lettman, Pinelands Preservation Alliance
609-859-8860

Conservationists to DEP: Parkway Widening Project too Big to Rush

Project will add 100 lane miles to Parkway between exits 30 and 80

Conservationists and transportation reformers asked Commissioner Lisa Jackson of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to put the brakes to the environmental review process for the proposed widening of the Garden State Parkway between exits 30 and 80. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection held a public hearing last week on the project and despite sparse public notice in newspapers, over 100 people attended, most to voice displeasure with aspects of the project.

“If people are mad about this project now, wait until they get a clearer picture of what this project is all about,” explains Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This project will spur more development and create more traffic. Any congestion relief that occurs will be short-term and the long-term will see more air and noise pollution, dirtier water, and more cars and congestion. We will be turning the Parkway into the Sprawlway . ”

Traffic studies for the project not only ignore the role a widened Parkway will have in creating more traffic, they also pre-date many congestion fighting techniques being used around the country. Many of these have already changed congestion patterns on the Parkway. The strategies include EZ PASS, High Speed EZ Pass, One-Way Tolling, High Occupancy Toll Lanes and Peak Hour Tolling.

“It’s an amazing contradiction. After the traffic studies have gathered dust for years, they’re then used to try to rush a project through the review process as quickly as possible,” says Damien Newton, of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “There are better ways to relieve congestion than a road widening…but none of those are even being discussed.”

The Secondary Impact Analysis prepared by the Turnpike Authority claims the widened highway will have no impact on local development patterns, even though they later claim the road will “speed up” projects that are already planned and increase the “rate of new development.” Environmental groups are demanding that the DEP require a more consistent and honest review of the project’s impacts on development patterns.

"It is the DEP's responsibility to protect the coast from both the direct impacts of this proposed project and the additional sprawl and traffic it will inevitably trigger. Is this project the right answer to the existing congestion problem, or is it the final straw that will break Barnegat Bay?" asks Susan Kennedy of the American Littoral Society.

"This project seems designed to promote even more new development and sprawl along the Jersey Shore - more subdivisions that will quickly clog the expanded Parkway, bring greater habitat destruction and pollution of our estuaries, and put bigger demands on local governments and property taxes." says Theresa Lettman of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.

“Over-development is rampant throughout Ocean County and the Barnegat Bay watershed. This widening project will put pressure on undeveloped land and coastal forests for fast-moving sprawl development all down the coast. The full extent of the environmental impacts of this project must be assessed before it moves any further along,” said Helen Henderson, project manager for Save Barnegat Bay.

To submit comments or ask to review the environmental documents, email the DEP at priya.sundaram@dep.state.nj.us .Written comments on the widening proposal are due by Wednesday, February 14.

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