Building it
 

Choices and Consequences

Citizens Fight Back
Newspaper Coverage of Expansion Through East Brunswick, 1971-1972

 

Follow the story of East Brunswick's resistance to a Turnpike widening project through these transcribed newspaper articles from 1971 and 1972. It becomes readily apparent that twenty years after the Turnpike opened, attitudes about road construction had changed. In East Brunswick, residents responded to the Authority's widening plan with concerns over noise and air pollution, traffic congestion, and perpetual expansion. Some banded together to form the CCEB (Concerned Citizens of East Brunswick). After a series of legal battles, the CCEB agreed to drop the lawsuits it had brought against the Authority if the Authority agreed to monitor pollution levels along the seven-mile area as well as erect an earthen barrier to muffle traffic sounds. These concessions became the rule in later widening projects.

JERSEY TURNPIKE FOES WIN TRIAL DATE

The New York Times, November 14, 1971

EAST BRUNSWICK, N. J. Nov. 13—After 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.


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