Ocean County’s proposed 16 mile linear park along the former railroad right of way is delayed in Lacey Township.

A controversial access road project may end up cutting into the trail, something that isn’t sitting too well with environmentalists. They plan to fight it in court.

At the present time, the State Department of Environmental Protection is taking public comments on the issue. According to DEP Spokesman Larry Ragonese, the Township of Lacey is hoping to build the access road to help alleviate traffic on Route 9 in a very congested area. The environmentalists don’t believe it will solve anything besides taking valuable dollars from taxpayers and harming the environment.

If this access road is approved, the trail, which would be 50 feet wide all the way from Toms River to Barnegat, would be reduced to just 8 feet in Lacey. Chairman of the Sierra Club Greg Auriemma has been against the road for years because he says it would kill valuable plant life, destroy forest, harm animal habitats and cut the trail significantly.

Auriemma says “originally, the DEP blocked the permitting process. Now they’ve reached a settlement and are refusing to listen to us. We will not stop fighting this. We will go to court if we have to.”

When Townsquare Media spoke with Ragonese, he wasn’t aware of any possible pending litigation’s on behalf of the Sierra Club or the Environmental Federation. Auriemma says they can’t act on it till the permit is issued.

Ocean County has invested millions in the rail trail park for recreational purposes. They have since stopped construction on a 2.2 mile swath of land in Lacey because it’s owned by the township.

The DEP has every intention of issuing the permit after the 30 day public comment period is up.