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Devil’s Tea Table Alliance seeks renewed support for pause in NJ rockfall mitigation


To invigorate a years-long fight to impede the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s massive rockfall mitigation project, the leader of Devil’s Tea Table Alliance wants the Tinicum Board of Supervisors to pass a refreshed resolution of support for towns with concerns about the project.

The Devil’s Tea Table is a well-known rock formation in Hunterdon County. The NJDOT rockfall mitigation project would, according to the alliance, use a combination of blasting, tree removal and draping material installation to reduce the potential of falling rocks over a three-mile span of Route 29 and one mile in Lambertville City and West Amwell Township, an area that includes the Devil’s Tea Table.

In 2021, Tinicum joined three other Bucks County townships and seven New Jersey townships, including Kingwood in Hunterdon County, to pass a resolution conveying alarm over NJDOT’s proposal.

The project, now budgeted at north of $60 million, are mostly funded with Federal Highway Safety money, and paid for with NJ and PA tax dollars.

If completed, Alliance leader Steve Freeman said the projects would negatively affect communities on both sides of the Delaware River.

“The NJDOT project would radically alter the visual nature of the area,” directly affecting Tinicum Township views across the river and for those traveling River Road in Bucks County and Route 29 in Hunterdon County.

Additionally, the alliance states, the project has the potential to affect the overall water quality of the Delaware and hurt tourism.

“The river is not that wide,” said Freeman. “Massive blasting will impact Tinicum just as much as it would Kingwood.”

After five meetings with NJDOT, Freeman said the situation seems to be at a stalemate.

“The NJ Department of Transportation has not been willing to accept alternatives proposed by the community or endorse a meaningful environmental impact process,” he said. “Kingwood recently passed another resolution to try to bring the issue back to the surface and create more pressure on NJDOT to be more forthcoming and to act in good faith.”

Specifically, Freeman wants Tinicum to call on NJDOT to pause the rockfall mitigation project pending an independent environmental impact statement, an economic impact study, public hearings, and consultation with — and approval from — Tinicum and Kingwood, the National Park Service and the Lower Delaware Wild and Scenic Management Council.

“These requests were included in the original Kingwood resolution but not in the Tinicum draft,” Freeman said. “NJDOT has proposed several alternatives with the most minimal environmental impact reviews possible. We must continue to fight that.”

Vice Chair Richard Rosamilia expressed unease over changing the original resolution’s language.

“So you’re saying the original resolution that we support Kingwood in their efforts to protect Devil’s Tea Table is no longer good?” Rosamilia asked Freeman. “I feel uncomfortable telling NJDOT what they must do, as officials in Kingwood already have the support of select PA communities.”

In response, Freeman accused NJDOT of “slow walking” them, which is reason to get “refreshed support revisions” in place.

He said he worries about supporter fatigue as the battle has dragged on for more than four years.

“These resolutions have been very helpful in garnering political support and sustaining significant community discussion,” Freeman said.

Chair Eleanor Breslin concurred.

“I can see the value in keeping this resolution fresh...” she said. “I have no doubt this mitigation project would negatively impact Tinicum and property owners.”

Since the supervisors and the township solicitor received the new resolution language on the day of the meeting, the board moved to conditionally approve a revised resolution.

“We will take the resolution wording issues up in our next work session and provide amended language to Kingwood at our next business meeting,” concluded Breslin.

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