Couple upset over Route 322 expansion

HARRISON TWP., New Jersey – November 16, 2009

"We're just sick over the fact that they are destroying our whole way of life."

Marlene and Dewey Gray say a road widening project in front of their home of 43 years is dividing their property in ways that diminishes its value and their quality of life.

"It's just not fair."

Route 322 in Harrison Township, New Jersey is being expanded from two to 5 lanes along a 1/2 mile stretch west of Route 55 to reduce traffic congestion.

Using eminent domain, which gives government the power to take private property for public use, Gloucester County has purchased their front yard for the widening project but has declined to buy the house.

"They don't have it in the budget and they don't need it. They don't need the property they said, all we need is your front yard. But they bought the two adjoining properties."

"I can understand concerns."

County officials maintain the neighboring properties were purchased because they are needed for storage and office space during the expansion and that it cannot afford to buy the Gray's house because it's not needed.

The 73 and 78-year-old retired teacher and county carpenter wonder if the neighboring land was bought because it's valuable to private developers. County officials say absolutely not.

"We have to be fiscally responsible as to what we need for the project. What they're looking for is different than our needs for the project," explained Vincent Voltaggio, Gloucester County engineer."

"They're saying this is good cuz it's going to alleviate traffic concerns so forth, fine but why should we be penalized? Why should we have to suffer? Why should our life be destroyed? That's not fair to us."

Officials say the county will reach out to the Gray's to try and negotiate an agreement the Gray's and the county can live with. At this point there's no indication if that could include an offer to buy the entire property.

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