NJTPA Update Blog

Newsroom > NJTPA News > NJTPA Update Blog Print

NJTPA Update Blog

Accepting Applications For Local Technical Assistance

Posted: 8/11/2022 2:58:25 PM

Proposals are being accepted for the FY 2023 Together North Jersey (TNJ) Vibrant Places Program, funded by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA).

Morris-Canal-Greenway-Passaic-art-installation.pngThe program offers technical support for creative placemaking projects that enable future place-based investments, complementing other local economic development initiatives.

Eligible applicants include municipal and county governments, nonprofit, community-based or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the NJTPA's 13-county region. Special consideration will be given to collaborations between municipalities, counties, and NGOs.

Examples of previous projects that received technical assistance include:

  • Five sites along the Morris Canal Greenway in Passaic County identified as pilot locations for a public art engagement plan, with a goal of creating replicable templates for other sites along the Greenway.
  • The Town of Dover created a Downtown Dover Visitor’s Guide along with economic revitalization strategies for the downtown area of the Morris County town.
  • The Borough of Bound Brook created a new visual identity that was incorporated into wayfinding signage and other visual media. The Somerset County borough also conducted public engagement and field visits to better understand the history and character of destinations that could be incorporated into a wayfinding system.
  • Custom logo designs were developed for the Middlesex Greenway, along with a short video highlighting the need for improved signage along the greenway and examples of signage used in other greenways and parks around the state.
  • The Urban Essex Coalition designed a temporary creative lighting display along NJTRANSIT rail viaduct underpasses along the Morris & Essex rail line, laying the groundwork for creative placemaking efforts along stations throughout the corridor.
Dover-Visitor-s-Guide-cover.pngUp to four projects will be selected for technical assistance services in the form of staff time from The Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) at Rutgers University and other experts. Projects should be small in scale and must be completed within three to five months and no later than May 31, 2023.

Evaluation criteria and detailed application instructions can be found on the Vibrant Places Program webpage. The deadline to submit proposals is September 15 with notice of decisions in October. Projects are anticipated to begin in late 2022.

For more information, contact Miriam Salerno at [email protected]
 

Author Pushes For Rejecting Human Error As Traffic Deaths Rise

Posted: 7/14/2022 8:49:09 AM

A decades-long rise in traffic deaths in the United States is an outlier among developed nations, even two years into a global pandemic, something author Jessie Singer attributes to layers of dangerous conditions that have been adding up for years.

Singer, who wrote, There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster – Who Profits and Who Pays the Price, gave a presentation on “Rejecting the ‘Human Error’ Explanation” at the July 11 NJTPA Board meeting.

As vehicle safety standards and infrastructure spending have declined in the United States, there has been an increase in the average vehicle size and weight, and the average age of vehicles on the road, leading to a rise in traffic deaths, according to Singer. She doesn’t believe that increases in distracted driving or social deviance during the pandemic should bear the blame for the increase in fatalities.


There is a tendency to put up signs or billboards to address individual behavior but Singer said this leaves in place the dangerous condition. She said enforcement campaigns can also be less effective than physical improvements, because if someone is caught by a police officer one out of five days, they credit good luck for the other four days that they were not caught – and likely won’t change their behavior.

Hierarchy-of-Controls-pyramid.pngThese types of traffic safety efforts exist at the bottom of the pyramid of the Hierarchy of Controls, which looks at ways to control exposure to hazards. Instead, she says the focus should be on the top of the pyramid, which emphasizes eliminating the hazard. For example, narrowing a wide road can force drivers to slow down and drive more carefully because it feels less safe to them.

Focusing on improving conditions is more effective than focusing on changing the behavior of a few “bad apples,” because it reduces the harm for everyone, Singer said. Education campaigns aim to fix the bad apples, while traffic enforcement tries to get rid of the bad apples, she said.

“The bad apple approach is psychologically satisfying,” Singer said, because that leaves the impression that the system is working fine — it’s just a few people who are bad.

Instead, Singer argues against “trying to perfect people’s behavior on the road” and accept that people will be selfish and want to bend the rules. “Design a system that is safe for them the way they are,” she said, making the comparison that automatic fire sprinklers don’t tell people not to smoke or play with matches – they just prevent harmful accidents.

While education and enforcement campaigns can reach a lot of people, Singer made the case that redirecting that funding to improve just one intersection is more beneficial, even if it affects fewer people, because it will save more lives.

Singer pointed to the City of Hoboken, which has not had a traffic fatality in four years – something virtually unseen in the United States – as an example of how inexpensive changes to street design can have a big impact. One simple evidence-based approach to improve safety is "daylighting" intersections by adding paint or bicycle parking to prohibit cars from parking too close to corners. This improves visibility, making it easier for drivers to see people trying to cross.

She also noted that Sweden has one of the best traffic safety records in the world following the country’s commitment in the 1980s to prioritize reducing road injuries and deaths over how quickly the transportation system moved people. “Some American economists might scoff at that but it’s the only direction you should move in if you want to save lives,” she said.

NJTPA Chair John W. Bartlett, a Passaic County Commissioner, said Singer’s presentation gave the board a lot to think about. He noted that the NJTPA places an emphasis on safety in Plan 2050 and its Street Smart NJ pedestrian campaign, but also as it prioritizes funding for projects, including the NJTPA’s Local Safety and High Risk Rural Roads programs.

“It’s a great way for us to think about standards in what we do,” he said of her presentation.

Trucking Industry Update focuses on Driver Shortages, Electric Trucks

Posted: 6/28/2022 12:15:16 PM

The trucking industry is grappling with two challenges affecting many industries – supply chain issues and how to mitigate climate change. 

These were the topics of the Trucking Industry Update at the NJTPA Freight Initiatives Committee’s June 21 meeting.

The truck driver shortage is expected to double from an estimated 80,000 last year to 160,000 by 2030, Nicholas Geale, Vice President of Workforce and Labor Policy at the American Trucking Associations, said during his presentation.

Freight volumes have slowed from 2021 but remain elevated, according to Geale. While freight is transitioning back from the spot (one-time delivery) market to contracts, contract loads have struggled to fully return to pre-pandemic levels due to a lack of drivers and equipment, he said.

ATA-Truck-Driver-Shortage.pngThe pandemic years have been good for trucking generally, according to Geale, with lots of goods being transported, tight capacity and higher rates. Costs have been a challenge, however, when it comes to driver wages, retention and recruitment, liability insurance, equipment prices and availability, and spikes in fuel prices. Many fleets, especially smaller ones, could be in trouble in the next recession, Geale said, noting the potential for consolidation.

Constraints of supply and the lack of equipment and microchips are reaching the trucking industry just as any other. But he noted that the driver shortage is boosting wages.

“If you’re a truck driver, you’re probably the only person in America beating inflation the last three years,” Geale said, with 8.5 percent average annual increases since 2019 for long-haul truckers. “It will take a while to dig out of this supply hole, so driver pay will continue to increase.”

Drivers working fewer hours, due to federal hours of service requirements, and the average driver age reaching nearly 50, means the shortage will only get worse. Geale said the industry needs to work on attracting younger recruits and women, that later of which are only 7 percent of drivers.

“We need to do a better job of telling people about good jobs in the industry,” Geale said. “We can’t fill these jobs unless we make a long-term investment in our people and make it a job people want to be in because it’s a career and has long-term growth.”

In the short term, there are programs like the DRIVE Safe Act apprenticeship program and a task force that aims to increase the number of women in trucking. He emphasized making truck drivers a national in demand position for workforce training funds. In the longer term, Geale said it’s about expanding the poolto attract more women, former felons, young people, urban populations, and veterans among others.
 

A Look at Zero-Emission Trucks 

The committee also heard from Jeffrey Short, vice president at the Atlanta-based American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), who presented recent findings of their report, “Understanding the CO2 Impacts of Zero-Emission Trucks.”

The study compared the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions across the lifecycle of three types of vehicles: 
  • Internal combustion engine (ICE) powered by diesel
  • Battery electric vehicle (BEV) powered by electricity
  • Fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) powered by hydrogen
It examined production, energy production and consumption, and vehicle disposal and recycling for a Class 8 sleeper cab with a minimum range of 500 miles and vehicle life of one million miles.

The battery on a BEV was about six times more polluting than an ICE truck when it came to carbon dioxide because of the amount of mining and pollution involved in producing it. Production emissions for ICE trucks and FCEV were 75 percent and 84 percent less, respectively, according to the study.

DSC00052-(1).JPGIn terms of energy production and consumption, BEVs and FCEVs were comparable, and approximately 43 percent and 47 percent, respectively, less than the ICE vehicle emissions. The two also were lower in terms of life-cycle emissions by 30 percent and 46 percent, respectively. The two 17,000-pound lithium-ion batteries necessary for BEVs create some 20 times more emissions when it comes to disposal and recycling. Those batteries also impact BEVs in a lost revenue weight analysis versus ICE trucks.

The projected decrease in fuel production emissions for BEVs is more than 19 percent by 2030 and almost 34 percent by 2034. It’s “not as significant as you would think and not the panacea for decarbonizing the trucking industry,” Short said.

Both presentations and a recording of the meeting are available here.

A Brief Guide to NJTPA Planning publication

Posted: 6/22/2022 10:36:45 AM

The 2022 edition of the 16-page publication A Brief Guide to NJTPA Planning has been released. A flip-book is below and a pdf can be downloaded here.

 

Jersey City Study Explores Expanding Transportation Options

Posted: 6/20/2022 3:53:21 PM

Jersey City “punches above its weight” when it comes to public transportation options, but a new study aims to address underserved areas within New Jersey’s second-largest city.

Elias Guseman, senior transportation planner for the Jersey City Division of City Planning presented findings from the JC on the Move study to the NJTPA’s Regional Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) during its June 13 meeting.

The study explored innovative and emerging transportation modes to address service gaps and expand the network. It was completed through the NJTPA’s Subregional Studies Program. The competitive grant program is open to the 13 counties and two cities on the NJTPA’s Board.

The study found that most trips were between the waterfront, Newport and Paulus Hook; Downtown to those three neighborhoods; and, between Journal Square and surrounding neighborhoods.

Transit service is oriented around peak periods and several major job and activity centers are difficult to access via walking, biking, and transit, according to the study. Traveling between certain places can take significantly longer on transit.

Some communities that are more reliant on transit have relatively poor access to it. Neighborhoods with significant levels of biking lack safe infrastructure and/or access to Citi Bike, the city’s bike share program, the study found. Citi Bike had the smallest drop in ridership among the transit options during the pandemic, down 12 percent in 2020 and 7 percent in 2021, compared with larger double-digit declines across the other modes.

Bus-stop-Fairmount-Ave-Jersey-City.jpgThe study recommends expanding existing modes, such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), microtransit (like the City’s Via shuttle) and bike share. Various innovative modes and technologies were scored based on the best fit for Jersey City, the most feasible, and when they might become available. Scoring the highest were microtransit, BRT, and bike share, followed closely by autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle, mobility hubs, and Mobility as a Service, which is a platform that would allow people to use various modes (NJ TRANSIT, PATH, Citi Bike, Via) through one payment and scheduling system.

The study suggests implementing BRT along John F. Kennedy Boulevard, and reducing the number of stops on local service stops and further studying the best ways to streamline that service. The Via vehicle fleet could be increased to reduce wait times and improve on-time performance and expand service by extending Saturday and evening hours and adding Sunday. The study also suggests adding Citi Bike stations in The Heights, Greenville and the West Side.

The city could run its own pilot AV shuttle program, similar to what the City of Trenton is working on, in an area that lacks transportation options. or It could also work with jitney providers to upgrade and enhance services including transitioning to AVs and/or electric vehicles, improving customer communications, and integrating into a Mobility as a Service platform.

The study suggests establishing a working group of community stakeholders and partners to develop a vision and goals for the Mobility as a Service program. This would include data management groups to address integration of service provides into the same booking and payment platform. Guseman said the study identified several Mobility Hubs where this platform could be piloted, including:

  • Journal Square
  • Newport PATH station
  • Garfield Avenue light rail station
  • Danforth Avenue light rail station
  • Kennedy Boulevard between Communipaw and Grant avenues
  • West Side Avenue and Kensington Avenue, adjacent to Lincoln Park (existing Citi Bike dock)
  • Bergen and Jewett avenues (existing City Bike dock)
  • Central Avenue between Thorne and Congress streets and/or by Washington Park


The study is being finalized and will be posted to the JC on the Move study webpage in the coming weeks.

Passaic County Creates Bicycle Master Plan

Posted: 6/16/2022 9:10:50 AM

Passaic County’s first bicycle master plan provides guidelines and standards on the types of facilities and detailed recommendations for a dozen locations that would create an expansive network of bike lanes spanning all 16 municipalities.

Andras Holzmann, supervising planner for the Passaic County Department of Planning, presented an overview of BIKE Passaic County to the NJTPA’s Regional Transportation Advisory Committee during its June 13 meeting. The study was completed through the NJTPA’s Subregional Studies Program, a competitive grant program open to the 13 counties and two cities on the NJTPA Board.

Bike-Passaic-County-MAP.pngWith an area of nearly 200 square miles, Passaic County features a diverse geography, ranging from urban areas in the south, like the county seat of Paterson, its largest city, to rural areas in the north. The plan looked at areas that could connect to trails and future trails, such as the Morris Canal Greenway, Highlands Rail Trail, and NYS&W Trail in Morris County that briefly veers into Wayne, as well as to commercial corridors, downtowns and transit, according to Holzmann.

The plan presents detailed recommendations, called concept level plans, for each of the following locations:

  • West Milford Connection to Highlands Rail Trail, West Milford and Ringwood
  • Ringwood Connection to Highlands Rail Trail, Ringwood
  • Main Street Complete Street, Bloomingdale
  • Morris Canal Greenway Connection, Wayne
  • Black Oak Ridge Connections to Morris Canal Greenway, Wayne
  • Parish Drive Connections to Morris Canal Greenway, Wayne
  • Wayne-Haledon Community Connection, Wayne and Haledon
  • High Mountain Road Connection to Nature Preserve, North Haledon
  • Hawthorne North-South Connection, Hawthorne
  • McBride Avenue, Woodland Park
  • Clifton Avenue, Clifton
  • Passaic-Clifton Community Connection, Passaic and Clifton

The plans include overviews of each location, maps, proposed improvements, and the level of difficulty to implement.

These preliminary concepts aim to build support for potential improvements and assist in developing funding and grant applications for design work and construction.

The study also resulted in the creation of a Pattern Book, which will serve as a design guide that includes standards for creating on- and off-road bike lanes, shared roads, pavement markings and more.

The master plan aims to increase safety and comfort, enhance access and mobility, inspire collaboration and coordination between government agencies and departments, and build community support for bicycling, and support economic, health, resiliency, and sustainability efforts.

The plan also makes planning and policy recommendations including:

  • Establishing a bicycle/pedestrian or Complete Streets Advisory Committee with the responsibility of advising municipal staff and boards on bicycle projects and needs.
  • Creating opportunities for people in Passaic County to borrow or purchase bikes, e-bikes, and tools at low or no cost.
  • Engaging local groups to develop and implement an Open Streets event.
  • Developing a plan for bicycle wayfinding signage.


Holzmann said during the study some communities raised concerns about removing parking spaces to add bike lanes. The design guide presents some solutions, such as “hybrid streets,” which use a parallel network of bike lanes without impacting parking in tight urban areas, so if there are bike lanes in one direction on one street, they go in the other direction on another street. He said there are other potential options that could also be explored. “It’s something that we have to go into further detail about with those municipalities.”

Once the final report is completed it will be shared on the study webpage.

NJTPA Recruiting Young Adult Advisory Group Members

Posted: 6/1/2022 11:26:41 AM

Graphic recruiting 21-30 year olds to join our young adult advisory committee.The NJTPA is seeking young adults with ideas for how to improve transportation in the region and make northern and central New Jersey a vibrant place where people want to live.

The NJTPA launched the UpNext North Jersey young adult advisory group in partnership with Rutgers’ Public Outreach and Engagement Team in 2019 to get younger people more involved in the transportation planning process. The group is open to residents in the 13-county NJTPA region who are ages 21 to 30. The NJTPA aims to have about 25 active members and is seeking applicants to fill several vacancies. Applications are being accepted through June 30.

“The NJTPA’s work involves planning and preparing for the future, so it’s important that we engage younger people who will be using our transportation system for decades to come,” said Passaic County Commissioner John W. Bartlett, Chair of the NJTPA Board of Trustees. “The members of this advisory group have helped inform the Long Range Transportation Plan our Board adopted last year, and we look forward to getting their help on the Regional Active Transportation Plan project underway.”

Members of the UpNext North Jersey advisory group provide input on various NJTPA projects and programs, including regional efforts, like the Regional Active Transportation Plan, to smaller initiatives at the county or community level.

UpNext participants have ongoing opportunities to engage with thought-leaders and decision-makers throughout New Jersey. Events could include trips and site visits to unique locations around the region; participation in project-related activities; and opportunities to give back to their communities through volunteerism. The program aims to attract a broad range of young adults, not just those who are already engaged in planning or public policy fields.

“It’s important that we recruit young adults who are diverse as the region we represent,” said NJTPA Executive Director Mary D. Ameen. “We’re looking for people who want to help build the vision for the future of transportation in our region. Planning experience is not required.”

The NJTPA region includes Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren counties.

Events are expected to take place quarterly and the NJTPA and Rutgers team will be looking to UpNext members to help plan and lead events, using the events as opportunities for participants to be both creative and hone their leadership skills as part of the process.

The application process is currently open. Those interested in joining should click here to apply. To learn more about the group, visit njtpa.org/UpNext.
 

State Awards $13.8 Million in Safe Routes to School Grants in NJTPA Region

Posted: 5/31/2022 2:16:32 PM

A crossing guard holds up a stop sign to stop cars while children cross the street.Twenty-two communities in the NJTPA region will receive a combined $13.8 million in grants under the state’s Safe Routes to Schools Program.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) announced the funding May 31 as part of a larger $19.6 million award to 31 municipalities statewide.

“The Safe Routes to School program is a great example of how NJDOT, working with the state’s three regional planning authorities, helps our communities access federal funding for local transportation projects,” said NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, who serves on the NJTPA Board of Trustees. “These grants will provide resources to improve sidewalks and bike paths to encourage children to stay active by walking and biking to school.”

NJDOT administers the program in partnership with the NJTPA and the two other metropolitan planning organizations that represent the state, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization.

Safe Routes to School is a federally funded program that aims to increase pedestrian safety and encourage children to walk and bike to school. Projects are designed to improve safety while also reducing traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution near schools. This can include constructing sidewalks; pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements; installing bike lanes; and new crosswalks.

Special consideration was given to applications that addressed equity by providing benefits to underserved communities, low-income residents, minorities, those with limited English proficiency, persons with disabilities, children, and older adults.

Click here to view the 2022 grant awards.

 

Annual Tech Tools Expo Focuses on Equity

Posted: 5/26/2022 2:54:54 PM


The NJTPA hosted its 8th Annual Tech Tools for Planning Expo on May 19, showcasing three tools: the NJTPA's Equity Analysis Tool, New Jersey's Potential Lead Exposure Map tool; and the City of Tacoma, Washington's Equity Index.

“Equity really is just an incredibly important consideration in our region, we have a very diverse population of 7 million, with, of course, very diverse needs when it comes to planning and transportation,” said David Behrend, NJTPA Deputy Executive Director, noting that equity is a focus of the NJTPA’s recently adopted Long Range Transportation Plan, Plan 2050: Transportation. People. Opportunity.

Gabrielle Fausel, a Principal Planner in GIS and Planning Tools, presented the NJTPA’s new Equity Resources website, built on the Esri Hub platform, and Equity Analysis Tool, which is modeled after a similar tool the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission developed. The tool allows users to quickly identify where different populations live in a project area, municipality, or county.

She said the NJTPA developed the tool in response to requests for data and guidance on how to analyze equity considerations when launching a new study. The tool includes data on the location of minorities, low-income individuals, limited English proficiency, people with disabilities and other factors. The website brings together various resources, like guidance documents the NJTPA has developed and information on federal requirements.

“It’s our hope that our resources, like the new Equity Analysis Tool, will help our own staff and our partners better understand these populations so that the potential benefits and impacts of projects and programs can be considered in our planning work,” Behrend said.

Christine Schell, Program Manager of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Environmental Public Health and Safety, presented on the Potential Lead Exposure Map, which created in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health. The tool is being released in phases. The first phase, released in October, focuses on lead-based paint in homes, which poses the greatest risk of lead exposure to children and families.

“It is envisioned that the tool will grow as a one-stop mapping tool that uses publicly available data to give a sense of where potential lead sources are that are affecting human health in New Jersey,” Schell said.

Additional data being considered for future phases include school and daycare center drinking water sampling results; soil lead levels; information on abandoned sites; and lead service line locations.

Jacques Colon, Strategic Manager for the City of Tacoma, presented on the city’s Equity Index. The tool helps determine where community members are unable to access services, or where services do not meet the community’s needs. It compiles 29 different indicators — such as life expectancy, road quality, air quality, unemployment, poverty rates and access to healthy food — into one tool that generates scores for each Census block ranking them from very low to very high levels of inequity.

Colon said the beauty of the tool is its ability to analyze various data sources and present patterns.

“It doesn’t tell the full story to look at any single piece of data; really it requires us looking at the full comprehensive conglomeration of indicators,” he said.

Colon said the city uses the index to identify and track disparities; support data-driven decision-making; and to provide transparency and accountability of that process.

Additional information about the tools and speaker bios are available on the event page. A recording of the event is available below.

Pre-application Process Open for Transportation Alternatives Program

Posted: 5/24/2022 3:53:58 PM

The pre-application process for the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside (TA Set-Aside) Program is open through September.

20170602-085.jpgFunded through the Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Aid Program, the TA Set-Aside Program is administered by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) in partnership with the NJTPA and the state’s other two metropolitan planning organizations. Anyone interested in applying for funding must schedule a pre-application meeting.

The program has been used to fund streetscape improvements, rails-to-trails, and Morris Canal Greenway segments, among other things.

Sascha Frimpong, Director of Local Project Development at the NJTPA, gave an overview of the program at the May 18 Morris Canal Working Group meeting, encouraging members to begin preparing applications.

The TA Set-Aside Program provides funding for a number of different activities, such as:

  • Design and construction of on- and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicycles, and other nonmotorized forms of transportation;
  • Construction of overlooks, scenic turnouts, and viewing areas;
  • Rehabilitation and historic preservation of historic transportation facilities, including canals and buildings;
  • Conversion of abandoned railroad corridors for trails for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other nonmotorized transportation;
  • Streetscaping and corridor landscaping;
  • Environmental mitigation to address stormwater management, control and water pollution prevention or abatement related to highway construction or due to highway runoff; and,
  • Reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality or restore and maintain connectivity among wildlife habitats.

With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) approved, it’s very likely that additional funding is coming into the program, Frimpong said, although at this point, it’s unclear how much. The NJDOT would like to open another solicitation this calendar year. Applicants must have maps, brief descriptions and cost estimates for projects completed prior to scheduling a meeting.

Any projects moving forward also should be submitted to the public in some type of forum. That could be a public meeting, discussion at a local council meeting or public event, or with a community interest group, so feedback is received.