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Regional Roundup

A roundup of transportation news from daily, weekly and online outlets.

State highway agencies need a $50B federal cash infusion or construction could halt, group says NJ.com, 5/19/20 - Highway agencies, which have seen either tolls or gas tax revenue plummet due to double digit drops in traffic volume due to coronavirus travel restrictions, are asking for federal aid to make up for lost money.
Cash toll collections resume on Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike NorthJersey.com, 5/19/20 - Cash collections on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway resumed Tuesday.
Coronavirus reopening plan gets N.J. drivers another 2-month extension from going to motor vehicle agency NJ.com, 5/19/2020 - Drivers will get another two-month extension on expiring licenses, registrations, inspection stickers and temporary tags due to the coronavirus, state Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) officials said Monday.
All Port Authority essential workers to be offered coronavirus testing NJ.com, 5/18/2020 - Front line Port Authority of New York and New Jersey employees will get something they’ve requested for at least a month - testing for the coronavirus.
Feds follow through on $1.4B COVID-19 rescue aid for cash-strapped NJ Transit NJBIZ.com, 5/18/20 - The Trump administration formally awarded $1.4 billion in federal rescue aid to the ailing New Jersey Transit, which has seen its ridership and revenue clobbered by near triple digits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NJ Transit Board authorizes contract for preliminary design work at Penn Station New York Mass Transit Magazine, 5/15/20 - A $4.1-million contract with FXCollaborative Architects has been authorized by the New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) Board of Directors for preliminary design, engineering and construction assistance of the Central Concourse Extension at Penn Station New York (PSNY), which will provide additional customer access to tracks.
NJ Transit could miss safety system deadline, railroad says it’s being fast-tracked NJ.com, 5/15/20 - Federal officials once again warned NJ Transit that it is in jeopardy of missing a Dec. 31 deadline to have a mandated safety system operating, which could shut down rail service if it’s not working and approved.
After 30 years away, N.J. drive-in movies return to cure coronavirus boredom NJ.com, 5/15/2020 - Bergen and Morris counties are about to get their first drive-in theaters in decades, as the largely defunct American pastime has now been deemed a safe, socially distant and family-friendly activity amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Cash tolls are returning to Parkway and Turnpike next week NJ.com, 5/15/2020 - The two toll roads run by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority will be the latest agency to
NJ Transit OKs $4M contract for Penn Station design work NJBiz.com, 5/14/2020 - The New Jersey Transit board of directors on Wednesday authorized a $4.1 million contract with FX Collaborative Architects of New York for preliminary design, engineering and construction assistance of the Central Concourse Extension at Penn Station New York (PSNY), which will provide additional customer access to tracks.
Construction for Raritan River Bridge replacement to begin this summer NorthJersey.com, 5/14/20 - Construction to replace the Raritan River Bridge is set to begin this summer.
Senators stem paratransit contracts as NJ Transit board OKs Penn Station improvement plan NorthJersey.com, 5/14/20 - One paratransit contract was tabled and another tweaked at Wednesday's NJ Transit board meeting, along with approvals for New York Penn Station redesigns, and an extension of a study for post-pandemic travel over the river.

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Issues & Insights

A list of links to recent articles, reports and announcements relating to transportation policy, legislation and research.

Transportation leaders focus on regaining trust before building anew Smart Cities Dive, May 26, 2020 - As cities inch toward reopening, agencies are questioning how to regain the trust and loyalty of riders who fled public transit for alternative forms of transportation — like personal car use — in fear of crowds and infection. There are even worries that personal car usage will spike during recovery, as it did in Wuhan, China, which could lead to increased congestion and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Spaces That Make Cities Fairer and More Resilient New York Times, May 17, 2020 - 
Like a chemical catalyst, the sidewalk and the street edge are the surface on which all the atoms of a metropolis come together, react with each other and produce energy. In practical terms, this is because public space provides a restaurant owner, someone posting dog-walking services, or a midnight clubgoer the chance to meet anybody, with any imaginable result. The equality of access to a busy city street, combined with the creativity and skill required to thrive there, is the meritocratic mechanism at the heart of urban life.
 
How 5G will power smart cities of the future Globe and Mail, May 18, 2020 -  5G technology is expected to be 100 times faster than the existing 4G networks in Canada, with a much lower latency rate, or lag, when sending and receiving data in real-time. It will also be able to handle a much larger number of connected devices than current networks, enabling them to speak to one another. Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, the potential of smart cities and the Internet of Things will be unleashed.
How Will Americans Commute After Lockdowns End? Citylab, May 14, 2020 -Now, as coronavirus lockdowns loosen in parts of the world, a divergent picture of the post-pandemic commute is emerging. Peak rush-hour traffic in Shenzhen is roughly 10% over its 2019 baseline, while congestion in Auckland, New Zealand, is creeping up every day. In North America, gasoline demand is rising and cars are retaking the streets, while mass transit ridership remains low and working from home is the status quo for 2020 (and possibly onwards) at tech-forward employers such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. 
 
NASA satellite sees air pollution drop over northeastern US amid coronavirus outbreak Space.com, April 10, 2020 - NASA satellite data revealed significant reductions in air pollution over major metropolitan areas of the Northeast United States as people reduce travel during the pandemic spread by the new coronavirus. 

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