NJPTA Update Blog
Posted: 1/20/2022 10:05:59 AM
For potential electric car buyers, 2022 could be an “exciting year,” with new vehicles providing “lots of variety and choices” and new laws expanding incentives and making charging more convenient, according to Pamela Frank, CEO, ChargEVC-NJ, who briefed the NJTPA Board at its January meeting.
Frank said the non-profit ChargEVC-NJ was formed in 2016 to include a “chorus” of electric vehicle stakeholders—car buyers, environmentalists, manufacturers and auto dealerships—seeking to advance the market for the vehicles. At the time, the market in the state was relatively weak, with few buying incentives or other support programs.
The market, she said, got a big boost in 2020 with the enactment of new state laws. In addition to buying incentives, state law now supports the creation of a statewide network of public charging stations. The goal is to have public fast chargers available every 25-30 miles along the 42 roadways in the state that carry 80 percent of miles driven, she said
Most recently, she noted, the state has adopted California goals for clean trucks, which will support increasing numbers of electric trucks operating in New Jersey each year. At the same time, the new federal infrastructure law expands tax credits by thousands of dollars for vehicle purchases and supports nationwide charging infrastructure.
Car makers, meanwhile, are investing billions in factories, batteries and vehicle designs. “Seems like every week there’s another announcement” of a new electric vehicle model being brought to market, she said. “And it’s continuing.”
Consumer demand is growing too she said, though she said it may take a few months to address supply chain issues which now limit vehicle availability in the state. She said electric vehicle purchases often occur in clusters, driven by local social networks. “Once one neighbor gets one, the whole neighborhood starts to pick up on this,” she said.
The vehicles are an increasingly a practical choice, she said, with a number of charging options including at-home garage charging and public fast charging depots, where typically it takes 20 minutes to achieve an 80 percent vehicle charge. She noted that this is more than adequate since most trips are less than 40 miles and battery range is often around 300 miles.
She urged the county representatives to consider electric vehicles for their fleets and to assist municipalities in adopting them. Cost savings are one important reason. In her own case, she said a conventional vehicle would cost her about $10,000 a year to fuel. In contrast, her battery electric vehicle charged overnight in her garage costs only $800 per year.
She said county and local governments should begin now to plan electric vehicle adoption to they can “leverage some really attractive incentives that we expect in the market.” The presentation can be viewed on YouTube.
NJTPA has compiled electric vehicle resources to assist municipalities and counties with implementation. They can be viewed at njtpa.org/ev.
Posted: 1/14/2022 3:05:26 PM
New Jersey will receive $1.14 billion over five years through a new federal funding program, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday.
The Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, and Construction Program, or Bridge Formula Program, is one of several new funding initiatives approved as part of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law in November.
“Much of our region’s infrastructure is old and subject to heavy daily wear and tear,” said Passaic County Commissioner John W. Bartlett, Chair of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. “These funds will help North Jersey and the rest of the state repair and replace more bridges, making travel safer and more efficient overall. The NJTPA looks forward to working with the state to make sure these federal dollars are put to good use.”
The program, administered by the Federal Highway Administration, aims to repair about 15,000 highway bridges nationwide that are in poor condition. New Jersey has 502 bridges in poor condition. The program provides $5.3 billion in the current fiscal year, including $229.4 million for New Jersey, and $26.5 billion total over five years.
In addition to funding highway bridges, the program dedicates money to “off-system” bridges, which are locally owned and not part of the federal-aid highway system. To incentivize states to use the funding for local bridges, the federal government is offering to cover 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating the spans. Typically, the state or local governments must pay up to 20 percent of the cost.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is thrilled to launch this program to fix thousands of bridges across the country – the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the Interstate highway system,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “Modernizing America’s bridges will help improve safety, support economic growth, and make people’s lives better in every part of the country – across rural, suburban, urban, and tribal communities.”
The NJTPA’s Long Range Transportation Plan, Plan 2050: Transportation. People. Opportunity., takes a “fix it first” approach, prioritizing funding to address the backlog of needed road and bridge improvements and preparing infrastructure for climate change impacts. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) owns 1,851 bridges in the NJTPA’s 13-county region, with 179 deemed in poor condition or structurally deficient, according to NJDOT Bridge Management System 2019 data. There are also 2,017 county-owned bridges in the NJTPA region with 138 deemed in poor condition or structurally deficient.
“This record amount of funding, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will allow states and Tribal governments to fix the bridges most in need of repair,” Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in a statement. “It will also modernize bridges to withstand the effects of climate change and to make them safer for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. Every state has bridges in poor condition and in need of repair, including bridges with weight restrictions that may force lengthy detours for travelers, school buses, first responders or trucks carrying freight.”
Posted: 1/10/2022 12:00:00 PM
Passaic County Commissioner John W. Bartlett was elected to a two-year term as Chair of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) at the January 10 Board of Trustees meeting.
“I am honored that my fellow Board members have entrusted me to serve as chair of the NJTPA,” Commissioner Bartlett said. “This is a critical time for transportation in North Jersey with billions of dollars in new federal infrastructure money flowing to New Jersey. I look forward to working with the Board, our many partners and the NJTPA staff to ensure this funding addresses critical transportation needs, while also growing our economy and improving quality of life for our residents.”
The NJTPA oversees regional transportation planning and annually authorizes more than $1 billion in federal surface transportation funding for 13 counties in northern and central New Jersey.
Chairman Bartlett also recognized outgoing chair Kathryn DeFillippo, a Morris County commissioner.
“Commissioner DeFillippo did an extraordinary job in incredible difficult circumstances,” Commissioner Bartlett said. “She kept things moving when it would have been easy for everything to grind to a halt, and she kept a camaraderie and positive attitude through a very grim time for many of us, and that was really something extraordinary.”
Commissioner Bartlett joined the NJTPA Board in 2012 and became a member of the Executive Committee when he was elected Second Vice Chair in 2018. He served as First Vice Chair from 2020-2021, before being elected Chair. He has held several leadership positions at the NJTPA, including serving as Chair of the Project Prioritization Committee from 2020-2021. He previously served as Chair of the NJTPA’s Planning and Economic Development Committee and was Vice Chair of the Freight Initiatives Committee.
NJTPA Board of Trustees Executive Committee
At the meeting, the NJTPA Board also selected four other members of its Executive Committee. In addition to Commissioner Bartlett, the elected members of the Executive Committee are Ocean County Commissioner John P. Kelly, First Vice Chair; Middlesex County Commissioner Charles Kenny, Second Vice Chair; and Union County Commissioner Bette Jane Kowalski, Secretary. In accordance with the bylaws, Chairman Bartlett appointed Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski to the position of Third Vice Chair.
The Executive Committee provides guidance and leadership to the full Board on a wide range of planning, policy and administrative issues. It meets as needed to review financial, personnel and policy matters. Board membership is an uncompensated position.
The NJTPA is the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for 13 northern New Jersey counties. Under federal legislation, MPOs provide a forum where local officials, public transportation providers and state agency representatives can come together and cooperatively plan to meet the region’s current and future transportation needs. It establishes the region’s eligibility to receive federal tax dollars for transportation projects.
The NJTPA Board consists of one local elected official from each of the 13 counties in the region (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren), and the cities of Newark and Jersey City. The Board also includes a Governor’s Representative, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT, the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a Citizen’s Representative appointed by the Governor.
Posted: 1/6/2022 10:10:15 AM
The Township of Belleville will develop a strategic marketing plan for its Washington Avenue Commercial District and the City of Perth Amboy will create a vision plan for Fink Park, an underutilized pocket park.
The two projects will receive free technical assistance thanks to grants from the Together North Jersey Vibrant Places Program. The program is a partnership between the NJTPA and the Vorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University. The NJTPA funds the competitive grant program. This year, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs will also be providing expertise and resources to the program through its Local Planning Services/Main Street New Jersey team.
A strategic marketing plan will be developed for the Washington Avenue Commercial District from Mill Street (near Branch Brook Park) to Joralemon Street. This will include developing marketing and outreach strategies, community engagement projects and place-making techniques that could be implemented to attract business activity and economic investment in the district.
A vision plan will be created to reimaging Fink Park, a small park in the city’s Smith Street commercial district. This effort will include researching best practices, public and stakeholder engagement and a market analysis, which will be used to identify goals, opportunities and recommended design and programming for the park.
To learn more about the technical assistance program, visit TogetherNorthJersey.com.
Posted: 1/4/2022 9:33:51 AM
The New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association has honored the NJTPA and one of its planners with 2021 Planning Excellence Awards. The association announced the awards on December 28.
The NJTPA received the Outstanding Community Engagement Award for NJTPA On Air, a multimedia competition that engaged children and teens in the recent Long Range Transportation Plan update. This was one of several innovative public engagement strategies the NJTPA developed with the Public Outreach Engagement Team at Rutgers University’s Voorhees Transportation Center. More than 150 children and teens shared their vision for the future of transportation in the NJTPA region. Entries included drawings, essays, videos, and animations. Their ideas were incorporated into Plan 2050: Transportation. People. Opportunity. All of the entries can be viewed here.
In addition, Aimee Jefferson, a principal planner at the NJTPA, received the Emerging Planning Award. She is a member of the NJTPA’s Local Programs and Project Development team and focuses on safety programs. She works with the New Jersey Department of Transportation on its Road Safety Audit Program and is also the project manager for the NJTPA’s Online Interagency Project Management System, a central database of more than 350 projects.
Posted: 12/20/2021 2:26:28 PM
Download a copy of the calender here.
Posted: 12/17/2021 11:40:41 AM
The New Jersey industrial real estate market is in the midst of a land rush that has developers eyeing every potential parcel or structure for its ability to accommodate new warehousing and goods distribution operations. Real estate experts gave a first-hand account of the trend during a panel discussion at the NJTPA Freight Initiatives Committee meeting on December 13.
William Waxman, Vice Chairman, Cushman & Wakefield, said that a year ago everyone was surprised by the continued strength of the industrial real estate market during the pandemic, much of it driven by the increase in e-commerce. Since then, he said the market has only accelerated, reaching record breaking prices—up to $26 per square foot in the Meadowlands and $40 in New York City.
“I think, OK, how much higher can it go and then the next deal gets made and it continues to increase,” he said. Rents have “doubled or more” since last year in many sub-markets, Waxman said.
Parking for trailers and cars has become a top concern for companies, he noted, with some next-generation warehouses being built with rooftop parking. Also of concern is access to good labor; many companies are seeking to become “employers of choice,” offering cafeterias, gyms and other amenities, he said.
Jesse Harty, New Jersey/New York Market Officer, Prologis, agreed that the market is growing with “unprecedented” user demand. Vacancy rates are at 2 percent or less. He noted that while the area around Exit 8A of the New Jersey Turnpike had been the focus of much warehousing and distribution development in years past, now “Central Jersey is pretty much full.” Companies are now seeking out space to the south and west.
Land rental costs have doubled in many cases, going from $15,000 an acre per month last year to $30,000 now in the Meadowlands, Harty said. Those increases, he said, are “trickling out” to other areas. The costs are helping drive the development of multiple story warehouses with smaller footprints, a number of which have been built recently in Brooklyn and Queens.
In terms of addressing labor shortages, Harty said his company is working with community workforce programs in Newark and elsewhere to help train residents for jobs in transportation, logistics and distribution. At the same time, he said sustainability has become a priority with a growing number of buildings incorporating rooftop solar panels.
David Aschenbrand, Vice President, Cold Storage, Bridge Development, said that even as the nation addresses infrastructure needs, the next logistics bottleneck likely could be cold storage facilities, especially around major metropolitan areas like New York-New Jersey.
Many of these facilities, he said, have up to two-week waits for space, affecting groceries, produce, prepared meals and other items. Because of the “need for speed” to reach consumers, he said, his company focuses on finding increasingly scarce “infill” locations in core, densely populated areas to develop new cold storage facilities. The costs and penalties imposed by the lack of space and new facilities, he said, “will ultimately be paid by the consumer” in the form of higher prices.
Jeff Milanaik, Partner, Northeast Region, Bridge Development, said two months into the pandemic, everyone realized that e-commerce was growing exponentially. “It has been a tidal wave ever since,” he said.
Milanaik said the search for sites to serve the demand led his company and others to redouble efforts to rehabilitate old industrial “legacy” sites, which often require cleanup of heavy contamination, soil stabilization and other measures.
Among the success stories he highlighted were the development of four warehouses on the old Ingersoll Rand site in Phillipsburg in two phases and three warehouses built on the former American Smelting and Refining site in Perth Amboy.
Such sites are often located in depressed communities with high unemployment, Milanaik said. The consistent message from local officials, he said, is “we want jobs” but they are often wary of developers because of past failures at complicated industrial sites. He said in approaching mayors and local officials, “the key is to set the relationships in place, to develop credibility with these communities and to demonstrate that we can deliver and create the jobs.”
Points raised during the question and answer discussion included:
- Developers face significant regulatory hurdles building in New Jersey including fragmented local governments;
- While rooftop solar panels and use of electric vehicles are improving sustainability, these measures require public investment in a reliable electric grid;
- In some areas industrial space rents are outpacing office space rents with the result that a growing number of suburban office buildings that continue to lose tenants due to the pandemic are being converted to distribution facilities, including along the I-287 corridor and in the Meadowlands;
- While the industrial real estate market appears strong, rising inflation represents a threat to consumer spending and the growth of e-commerce underpinning the market growth. A future recession could turn the market around.
A recording of the panel discussion is available here.
Posted: 12/7/2021 12:18:09 PM
We’re accepting applications for our Complete Streets Technical Assistance Program. This competitive program will work with six to eight municipalities to develop solutions for improving walking, biking, safety and addressing other needs.
Examples of projects include developing bicycle corridor or network plans; conducting walking audits to identify potential pedestrian and bicycle improvements; creating conceptual renderings to visualize potential improvements; crafting policy guidance; and engaging in temporary demonstration projects.
Complete streets are streets designed for all users, all modes of transportation and all ability levels. They balance the needs of drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, emergency responders and goods movement based on local context.
This program is funded by the NJTPA and offered in partnership with Sustainable Jersey and the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, who provide the technical assistance. No direct funding to municipalities is provided.
Municipalities in our 13-county region (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties) are eligible to apply. Applications are due February 11.
Two webinars are being held to help interested municipalities with the application process. The first webinar on December 9 will focus on eligible project types and provide examples of projects completed through this program. Click here to register.
The second webinar on December 15 will focus on the application process and how to use the online application portal. Click here to register.
To learn more about the program visit http://bit.ly/CompleteStreetsTA.
Posted: 12/7/2021 11:48:03 AM
The new federal infrastructure law includes “enormous investments, some of the largest we’ve ever seen in some areas,” according to Erich Zimmermann, Deputy Director and Transportation Director of the National Association of Regional Councils. Zimmermann spoke at the annual meeting of the Metropolitan Area Planning (MAP) Forum on December 3.
Signed into law on November 15, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) – totals $1.27 trillion, with $550 billion in new spending. Zimmermann said more than 42 sections of the new law impact the planning and capital programming work of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and regional councils, including the members of the MAP Forum. The MAP forum is composed of representatives of 10 MPOs and regional organizations in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including the NJTPA.
Together with extensive formula and discretionary funding for highway, water, broadband and other infrastructure, the bill includes “the largest investment in rail ever seen,” totaling $100 billion over five years, Zimmermann said. The funding supporting the work of MPOs will increase 32 percent and MPOs must now take housing into consideration in drawing up long-range plans.
Other programs coordinated by MPOs and benefiting counties and municipalities also saw large increases, such a 71 percent increase in the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), which funds non-traditional transportation projects. Two new formula-funded programs target reducing transportation’s contribution to climate change and making infrastructure more resilient to climate impacts.
Zimmermann highlighted a few of the “very long list” of discretionary grant programs in the new law that address “a gamut of issues.” This includes the Congestion Relief Program to encourage innovations in addressing congestion such as congestion pricing; and Safe Streets and Roads for All, a grant program that supports Vision Zero safety strategies. A number of pilot programs will test approaches to funding transportation through mileage-based user fees, prioritizing proposed projects, removing obsolete infrastructure dividing neighborhoods, and accommodating wildlife crossings, among others. He said implementing all the programs will involve an “unbelievable amount of rule-making” by the U.S. Department of Transportation in coming months.
Despite the welcome new funding in the law, Zimmermann said the IIJA does nothing to solve the underfunding of the federal Highway Trust Fund, which relies mostly on gas tax revenues. Rather, he said, the law transfers $118 billion in funding from the general fund to the trust fund, continuing the practice of past transportation acts.
The NARC summary of the law can be found at: https://narc.org/2021/10/01/infrastructure-investment-and-jobs-act-bill-analysis/
Click here to view Zimmerman's presentation.
Posted: 11/11/2021 8:18:41 AM
Micromobility is poised to become the “the next chapter in the transportation mobility future” Shabazz Stuart, Founder and CEO of the company Oonee, told the NJTPA Board at its November 8 meeting.
Encompassing a wide range of devices that travel under 30 miles an hour—including bikes, scooters, skateboards, unicycles, e-bikes and even wheelchairs—Stuart said micromobility is “the fastest growing segment of transportation in America.” The growth has been made possible by towns and cities around the country installing bike lanes and other infrastructure, creating new plans and policies for use of streets and supporting bike share, scooter share and other services.
Stuart’s company works with local governments to create modular infrastructure that gives micromobility riders parking, charging, and servicing. Oonee has installed enclosed modules on residential streets and larger parking stations at central locations in Jersey City and New York City. The company has plans for continued expansion based on data and outreach on community needs.
Stuart said many people think that micromobility is mainly used for recreation or by young people. However, he said, as its popularity has grown—particularly during the pandemic—micromobility is now being recognized as an “important mode of public transportation” for commuting and daily trips.
Biking and other means of micromobility are particularly suited to the shortest trips, he said, noting that 50 percent of trips are under three miles and 20 percent of trips are a mile or less. Even converting a share of these trips to micromobility he said could help cities and towns operate more efficiently, reducing traffic congestion and improving access to transit stations from wider areas.
Public support for micromobility also enhances equity, he said, because a large share of users are low income or immigrants. Those with incomes less than $35,000 per year are 10 times more likely to bike than others, Stuart said. As micromobility continues to grow, “we’re going to have dividends across the playing field,” he said.
While safety must be improved to support micromobility’s growth, there also must be efforts to provide parking and service opportunities, a sustainable economic model for operators and comprehensive planning, he said. The economics can be particularly difficult, he said, because like public transit, micromobility requires public investments and some measure of subsidy, rather than relying on venture capital investments.
NJTPA Chair Kathy DeFillippo commended Stuart for the presentation, which she said provided “food for thought” for the NJTPA and the region’s municipalities.
Click here to view the presentation.