The New Jersey Department of Transportation is facing major public opposition against its giant Interstate I-80 rockfall fence project, so now the state is retaliating. NJDOT denied a proposed scenic byway project in Sussex and Warren counties in a petty and vindictive move against the towns that are opposing the rockfall project. Scenic byways encourage tourism, stimulate the local economy, and show off New Jersey’s natural treasures. Stopping this byway is counterproductive and will hurt the economy and local tourism.
NJDOT has always taken the side of more pavement and cement over trying to deal with the situation. it wants to spend millions to build a Jurassic Park-like fence that will only create more problems for the community and the environment. The state should be looking at alternatives like low-visibility mesh fences or grouting the rock wall to cement it in place. There hasn’t been proper analysis on the historical and potential Native American sites nor impacts on endangered species.
The Sierra Club has been fighting to protect the Delaware Water Gap for the past 60 years because this is our Yellowstone, our Yosemite. This area is protected by Delaware River Basin Commission regulations because it provides high scenic, recreation, ecological and water supply value. The land is held in trust for the public, not for the state to build a giant wall fence. NJDOT should not be wasting taxpayer money on a nonessential project in an environmentally sensitive area.
Director, New Jersey Sierra Club