Union County Freeholder Angel Estrada, NJTPA Chair, kicked off the Board’s first meeting of 2019 on Monday by welcoming new members and reflecting on all that was accomplished in 2018.
Freeholder Estrada welcomed Somerset County Freeholder Director Brian Levine, the county’s new representative on the Board of Trustees, and Hudson County’s new Board alternate, transportation planner Byron Nicholas. He also thanked Lou Venech, of the Port Authority, for his many years of service as he prepares to retire. Steve Brown will replace Venech as the agency’s representative on the Board.
The NJTPA had a busy year in 2018, including a federal certification review, he said. Representatives from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration met with staff and Board members over three days in November to discuss how the NJTPA conducts its metropolitan planning work. The federal agencies commended the NJTPA on its work in several areas, including performance-based planning, public engagement, freight planning and coordination with neighboring metropolitan planning organizations, Freeholder Estrada said.
“We look forward to receiving the final certification report and of course will work quickly and efficiently to address any concerns raised,” he said.
In 2018, the NJTPA also developed a guidebook to help municipalities and counties prepare for alternate fuel vehicles; continued expanding the Street Smart NJ pedestrian safety campaign in an effort to reduce pedestrian fatalities and crashes across the region; adopted a new Public Engagement Plan, which emphasizes reaching traditionally underserved populations; and completed a study that details a vision for a 111-mile continuous greenway closely aligned with the route of the historic Morris Canal.
Work on the Morris Canal trail is already underway in many areas. Late last year, the state’s Regional Transportation Alternatives Program projects approved $11.1 million for four Morris Canal Greenway projects in Jersey City, Passaic County, Sussex County, and Warren County.
“All these accomplishments, taken together, make it clear that the NJTPA is working hard to improve the three key quality-of-life factors I decided to focus on when I became Chair last year—environment, economy, and equity,” Freeholder Estrada said. “I am sure that together we can accomplish even more in the year to come. I look forward to working with you all throughout 2019.”