This page provides a quick look at how the NJTPA is supporting livability and smart growth in our region. These are related concepts that are embodied in NJTPA’s long range Plan 2035, the Regional Transportation Plan for northern New Jersey
Smart Growth: A key investment principle in Plan 2035 is to “help the region grow wisely.” This means that investments in the region’s transportation system should support sustainable growth, as called for in the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan. To promote sustainable growth, the NJTPA supports compact development in areas already served by transportation infrastructure, including redevelopment of urban areas. Compact development and redevelopment reduces development pressure on rural and exurban land and helps preserve open space and protect the environment. It also creates more walkable, transit-friendly communities, helping improve the efficiency of the transportation system. Additional benefits are greater energy efficiency, healthier lifestyles, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, among others.
Livability: A Federal Interagency Agreement between the EPA, DOT, and HUD was published in June of 2009 that detailed six livability principles as part of a commitment to focus on land use and community building at the federal level. These principles are fully consistent the goals and investment principles that underpin NJTPA's Plan 2035:
- providing more transportation choices
- promoting equitable, affordable housing
- enhancing economic competitiveness
- supporting existing communities
- coordinating policies and leveraging investment
- valuing communities and neighborhoods
Numerous programs and activities at the NJTPA are oriented towards promoting livability and smart growth with in northern New Jersey. Some key efforts are highlighted below:
Pedestrian/Bicycle Planning - The NJTPA is committed to promoting walking and biking in its region. Its goal is to make these two travel modes convenient, safe, efficient, and attractive as viable alternatives to cars for shorter trips. Much of this commitment is made through direct investment in bicycle pedestrian facilities. In addition, various transportation projects, such as bridge replacements and intersection improvements incorporate features to make walking and biking safer and more attractive travel options in the region. In addition, since 2006, the NJTPA has conducted a series of “Walkable Community” workshops. The workshops are held in the 13 counties within the NJTPA region, plus the cities of Newark and Jersey City. The workshops train participants to identify barriers to walking and ways to improve pedestrian safety in each workshop community. Participants also learned how to inform and instruct residents, transportation professionals, and others about improving walkability.
Studies - The NJTPA regularly conducts studies of transportation needs in throughout its region, including major travel corridors. It also funds a variety of planning efforts by its member "subregions" –13 counties and two cities – through the Subregional Study program. Much of this work directly promotes smart growth and livability strategies such as intermodalism, complete streets, bicycle/pedestrian travel, transit-oriented development, steering and controlling growth, etc.
North Jersey Strategy Evaluation - The NJTPA Strategy Evaluation is conducted periodically to assess how well the region’s transportation meets residents’ needs. The study also generates recommendations for specific strategies and programs to benefit particular areas incorporating smart growth principles. To help identify potential investments, the strategy evaluation project uses a system of “place types.” The region’s 384 municipalities (and, in some cases, parts of municipalities), were assigned place types, creating 397 “places” in the region for the purpose of identifying needs. This approach helps the NJTPA consider the varying needs of different sorts of communities when making investment decisions.
Project Prioritization Criteria - The NJTPA is positioned to support smart growth, transit-oriented development and livability through its funding decision making process. NJTPA’s project prioritization criteria, which are used to score and rank proposed projects for possible funding, take into account direct land use and environmental issues such as the redevelopment of brownfields, the protection of special environmental districts, reduction of noise pollution, and the improvement of air quality. The criteria consider the effect projects may have in reducing automobile use, such as increasing access to rail stations and building road segregated bike and pedestrian facilities.
Transit-Oriented Development – Mixed-use development around rail stations and other public transportation hubs is called transit-oriented development, or TOD. TOD creates compact mixed-use communities adjacent to transit infrastructure with the goal of increasing transit use and reducing automobile commuting trips. There are more than 100 commuter rails stations in the region, as well as dozens of major bus facilities, PATH, and light rail stations. Many of these could potentially serve as locations for future transit-oriented development. The NJTPA supports studies of these opportunities through its various study programs and other planning activities.
Complete Streets - Plan 2035 encourages road designs and investments that make streets accessible and safe for all the region’s residents and travelers, including pedestrians and bicyclists. This is in keeping with the statewide “Complete Streets” policy which seeks to insure streets belong to everyone– including children, the elderly, and the disabled – not just the people who are able to, or choose to, use an automobile. This approach promises cleaner air, increased social capital, congestion relief, reduced dependency on imported oil, and many other social, economic, health, and environmental benefits.
Reducing Greenhouse Gases - The NJTPA has established a Climate Change Working Group, a forum for concerned stakeholders to identify, support, and coordinate efforts in North Jersey to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare the transportation system for the impacts of climate change on the environment. It has also undertaken a regionwide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Project to quantify the amount and kinds of climate change gases that are emitted in the region.