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Identifying Regional Transportation Needs
In identifying regional needs, the NJTPA considers transportation problems— such as unacceptable levels of traffic congestion—as well as opportunities— such as a densely populated area that could support greater use of public transit. The NJTPA investigates needs through analysis of data, studies of specific locations and facilities, computer modeling, consultations with local officials and citizens, among other activities. And investigating needs often necessarily includes consideration of the range of strategies that might address them. Thus transportation needs and strategies are closely related in the transportation planning process conducted by the NJTPA.
While much of the investigation of needs and strategies undertaken by the NJTPA involves technical analysis— using performance measures, computer modeling, GIS systems and other planning techniques— these investigations include extensive and ongoing consultations with NJTPA Board members, their staffs, the staffs of member agencies and interested citizens in affected subregions. Decisions about allocations to address regional needs are made by the NJTPA Board of Trustees.
Addressing maintenance, preservation and even safety needs often involves fairly straightforward engineering solutions with a limited range of options. Many other needs in the region—particularly the “opportunity” needs -- are more complex. Addressing them involves considering a variety of often interrelated options, sometimes involving multiple modes and spanning geographic areas.
The NJTPA periodically conducts a Strategy Evaluation process for systematically investigating complex accessibility and mobility issues and needs around the region. Congestion is one of the key focuses of Strategy Evaluation. Indeed, because of the prevalence of congestion in metropolitan areas, Congress has mandated that Metropolitan Planning Organizations like the NJTPA establish a
Congestion Management Process
(CMP) to address the issue. The Strategy Evaluation process is the core of the NJTPA's designated CMP.
However, in addition to assessing congestion on the roadway system, Strategy Evaluation also assesses needs involving bus and rail transit, ridesharing, walking and bicycling, and freight transportation. And since these types of issues deal with the fundamental nature and capacity of the transportation system, Strategy Evaluation intrinsically considers the connections with related travel markets, development, land use and environmental concerns.
Update of the Strategy Evaluation’s place-based needs analysis is underway, with initial results echoing those detailed in
studies produced in 2006-2009 for
Transportation performance and needs vary greatly depending on the landscape -- ranging from the urban core to exurban and rural areas. The region contains large environmentally sensitive areas close to developed areas, adding to its complexity. The variety of place types – considering land use, population density, employment, the nature of economic activities, street patterns, and so on – help point the way to how future land use and transportation features should be supported or discouraged.
The desired objectives, in turn, allow for settings standards of performance according to context. For instance, levels of congestion that indicate a “need” can be set lower in rural or suburban areas (where a greater level of congestion can be expected). Where performance standards are not met, needs for improving accessibility and mobility are identified and improvements area sought. Strategy Evaluation
dentified ten place types, each with specific standards for transportation performance .
Environmentally Sensitive Areas
Northern New Jersey is home to vast and diverse ecological resources, including forests, meadowlands, marshes, freshwater wetlands, historic parks and miles of exceptional coastline and barrier islands along the Jersey shore.
The NJTPA takes great care to minimize and mitigate negative impacts that transportation investments can have on the natural environment. Close coordination with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Office of Planning Advocacy (OPA), Department of Transportation and other state agencies charged with safeguarding the environment is essential in focusing attention on this concern.
Through the State Development and Redevelopment Plan (SDRP), the OPA provides guidance on supporting development while preserving environmentally sensitive areas. The SDRP identified areas are included on the map, along with the three districts—the Highlands Preservation Area in the northwestern part of the region, the Pinelands Preservation Area in the south, and the Meadowlands in the northeast—designated by law for special conservation efforts. Governing bodies have been created for each of these districts to oversee growth and preservation.
NJTPA needs analysis considers the SDRP “Planning Area” typology and objectives, as well as the plans and policies of the three preservation districts, to assign place types to places, select performance measures, and estimate needs. Similar considerations will enter into the subsequent stages of the Strategy Evaluation, where strategies will be evaluated, prioritized, selected and refined. In this way, the recommendations of the finalized NJTPA Strategy Evaluation—including proposed concepts for transportation projects around the region—will reflect the SDRP’s guidance for environmental protection and conservation of natural resources.
Environmental Justice (EJ) in transportation has been defined as the fair distribution of transportation benefits and burdens among all people. At NJTPA, EJ concerns are integrated across all NJTPA planning activities. Under federal regulations pertaining to Environmental Justice, the NJTPA ensures that its plans and programs are consistent with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, identifies and assesses the transportation needs of low-income and minority populations, and acts to improve public involvement processes to eliminate participation barriers for low-income and minority persons. More NJTPA's EJ activities is
NJ Pilot Project: Testing Potential MAP-21 System Performance Measures
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