The New York Times, November 14, 1971
EAST BRUNSWICK, N. J. Nov. 13After nearly a year
of protest meetings, petitions and door-to-door appeals for support,
the residents of this Middlesex County community who are opposed to
the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's plan to widen the turnpike here
have been assured of a day in Court.
The authority is seeking to double the
capacity of the highway in this area, going from six lanes to 12. The
project would necessitate razing at least 11 houses and has already
resulted in the relocation of a half dozen others.
A similar widening of the facility was
completed north of Exit 10 last year but that construction was through
largely unoccupied marginal lands in a highly industrialized area.
Judge David D. Furman of the Superior
Court, sitting in New Brunswick yesterday, rejected a motion offered
by the Turnpike Authority for a dismissal of the suit to halt its expansion
program and set a trial date of Jan. 17.
He said today that "allegations"
contained in the complaint entered by the residents "warranted
a hearing," at which he will preside.
The Turnpike Authority had argued that
all appropriate legal moves by the opponents had failed and that it
should be permitted to proceed with the work.
The residents had hoped to move the case
to trial no later than Nov. 1, but last month the Appellate Division
of the Superior Court ruled that a trial court in New Brunswick should
not take up the case until a pre-trial hearing had been held on the
merits of the complaints.
Some Not Hopeful
Judge Furman's order now pits a small
band of citizens in open court against what some characterized as the
"awesome arrogance" of the Turnpike Authority. The decision
was greeted by the authority's opponents with satisfaction. Spokesmen
for the authority said they would have no comment at this time.
Some consider the prospect of a trial
as a noble, if futile, skirmish in a battle long since lost, pointing
out that key preliminary contracts for the work have already been awarded
and that Turnpike Authority notes totaling $125-million and maturing
Jan. 1, 1975, have been authorized to pay for the work.
In addition, since the authority was created
by an act of the State Legislature in 1948, its expansions and extensions
and growth have been frequently opposed, but rarely thwarted.
The reason advanced by the authority for
the widening along an eight-mile stretch between here and exit 10 is
"increasing demands placed upon us by increasing numbers of motorists
as well as freight and commuter haulers."
However, Dr. Emily Alman, who is chairman
of the opposition, which calls itself the Concerned Citizens, contended:
"More roads merely entice more cars. Mass transit is neglected,
the environment is befouled and the Turnpike Authority grows and grows
like a monster out of control."
Dr. Alman, a professor at Douglass College
here, has carried the banner of the defenders from the beginning of
the battle. Today her home, in the Pine Ridge section beside the turnpike
at Exit 9, stands lonely in a section from which six of her neighbors'
houses have already been moved to other sites.
© 1971. The New York Times. All rights
reserved. Posted with permission of The New York Times.