Friday, May 16, 2003
Although concerned with uncertainty and potential delays caused by the verified presence of six different threatened or endangered species within the area, the County intends to aggressively continue with plans to improve the intersection of Tilton and Wrangleboro Roads.
"This project remains one of my top priorities," Levinson said, "although it is a bit frustrating when you realize that just a short way down the road, developers were given the necessary approvals to clear cut hundreds of acres apparently without encountering any protected species. When we propose to make badly needed improvements to a small section of roadway in the same area, they are suddenly discovered."
Levinson stated that the County has expanded its current contract with the engineering firm of Parsons Brinkerhoff to investigate and delineate the habitat and range of these species in and around the intersection of Tilton and Wrangleboro- Pomona Road.
"What happens from this point on, we don't know," Levinson said. "The project may simply encounter a short delay as delineation, design and, possibly, mitigation plans are worked out. Or it can be delayed indefinitely. The bottom line is that Atlantic County motorists will have to continue to endure congestion and delay at one of county's busiest intersections."
The county currently has plans underway to widen Wrangleboro - Pomona Road, which runs between the growth communities of Hamilton and Galloway Townships, into a major, four lane north-south connector. An interim part of that plan calls for improvement to the intersection at Tilton Road.
"This is a situation that requires balance and common sense," Levinson said. "On the one hand we have a dangerous, congested intersection that demands improvement. On the other, we must be sensitive to reasonable environmental concerns. The problems inherent with threatened and endangered species will cost us time and money. However, we will work with the required agencies to agree on the habitat area of these species and hope that we can come to an agreement on appropriate strategies as soon as possible."
The species that have been determined to exist within or adjacent to the proposed subject area are:
* Narrow leaved vervain
* Upland Sandpiper
* Grasshopper Sparrow
* Barred Owl
* Northern Pine Snake
* Frosted Elfin