MONROE – A traffic study over multiple days in June and July determined that at its peak more than 1,400 tractor-trailers travel into Monroe from points in Cranbury, Monroe officials said this week.

The township released the study on Thursday and comes after Monroe’s attorney emailed Cranbury, in part, about a July 18 meeting between Mayor James Taylor and Monroe Councilman Charles Dipierro.

Mayor Gerald Tamburro has been critical of an unofficial plan in Cranbury to build some type of warehouse near the Monroe border in the area of Hightstown-Cranbury Station Road and Halsey Reed Road, which is near homes. 

The traffic study looked at Cranbury Station Road and Cranbury Half Acre Road on July 8 and July 9, which the Monroe Police Department conducted.

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In June, the township’s engineer, Center State Engineering, “set up a more comprehensive study,” for two days on the same roads.

The police study counted 313 trucks using those roads from Cranbury into Monroe, while the engineer tallied approximately 2,400 trucks, for an average of 1,200 on each road.

“Center State Engineering … reported 1,475 trucks on Cranbury Station Road during the two-day weekday study heading both eastbound and westbound through Monroe,” the township statement said about the study’s finding.

As a result of the study, Tamburro asked his professional staff to review the findings to make recommendations.

“Our professionals noted a steady stream of tractor-trailers on those two roads, which is alarming because Monroe doesn’t have any warehouses on those roads,” Tamburro said in the statement. “We are left to conclude that all of this traffic on these local streets is heading to Cranbury, which has a number of warehouses on our border and is planning to build even more. I find this troubling for our residents and it is unacceptable.”

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Reached Thursday, Taylor declined to comment about the study and the township’s release.

Monroe is also questioning why Cranbury did not complete the so-called “Liberty Way Bypass,” which it says would provide an alternate route for truck traffic.

“At the time, Cranbury clearly recognized that its truck traffic is a regional problem,” Tamburro said. “But, in a few short years, and with a new mayor now in charge, suddenly any of the truck traffic generated by Cranbury is no longer their problem. That is why we need to take strong and deliberate action. We really have no choice.”

Dipierro and Taylor look for solutions

Meeting together last week, Monroe’s Dipierro and Cranbury’s Taylor sought to find talking points to bring back to their respective governing bodies to help resolve concerns about a potential warehouse project in Cranbury.

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The meeting did not result in an official agreement but was an “olive branch,” effort given the lack of dialogue between the two town’s top elected officials.

“This is something that’s being a good neighbor and that as an elected official that’s what the residents in my ward in Monroe, that’s what they hire you to do,” Dipierro said, who is also running against Tamburro for mayor and believes that his recent statements about Cranbury are election-related.

Through their two-hour conversation, Taylor said he was willing to talk with his officials about possible changes to the master plan to mitigate the impact on residents when it comes to building warehouses.

He also said he would ask his officials to look at directing “truck traffic down Brickyard Road into the Route 33 bypass and make it go away from Monroe so those residents don’t have to be impacted by any truck traffic.”

Dipierro said he would convey the mayor’s willingness to find “common ground” but both said they understood that the ultimate decision is not theirs.

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Before and after the meeting, emails were exchanged between public officials in the two towns.

Taylor had sent an email to Tamburro writing in part that “I think and hope we can both agree neither town is served by the continuing escalation of words between ourselves,” and adding that he hopes for positive dialogue.

After the July 18 meeting between Taylor and Dipierro, Monroe Township Administrator Alan Weinberg contacted Taylor about the meeting he had with Dipierro, according to multiple people. MonroeNow has not seen the email.

Taylor’s response prompted an email from Monroe Township Attorney Louis Rainone on July 19 advising the Cranbury mayor about concerns that the meeting with Dipierro “engaged in contract zoning negotiations on a specific property that will hamper any attempt to mitigate the substantial impact these developments may have on the residents in surrounding neighborhoods.”

He also wrote that under Monroe’s form of government only the mayor has the authority to negotiate deals “following a transparent, public process, with full input from the community.”

Taylor accepted to meet with Dipierro because outreach to talk to Tamburro were not answered.

The township did not respond to MonroeNow’s request to talk to the mayor or administrator about why Tamburro has not spoken directly to Taylor.

“The Mayor asked that I convey that he has no intention of bargaining in the back room with you or a developer on matters that should be fully vetted through the public process required by law,” Rainone wrote, concluding his email to Taylor.

Additionally, he writes that while Cranbury committee members have equal powers, the authority to negotiate any deals in Monroe “rests solely with the Mayor, following a transparent, public process, with full input from the community,” and that “The Mayor asked that I convey that he has no intention of bargaining in the back room with you or a developer on matters that should be fully vetted through the public process required by law.”

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Christopher Lang is a freelance correspondent for MonroeNow. Previously he was part of The Record-USA Today Network and served as an editor for a decade at NJMG.