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NJPTA Update Blog

Making a Positive Difference in Digital Accessibility

Posted: 4/8/2021 10:58:37 AM

The NJTPA is committed to ensuring everyone has equal access to our planning projects and programs, regardless of ability or the language they speak. To make our website more accessible, we now offer the Recite Me tool 

Click the Accessibility buttonaccessibility button (shown to the right) at the top of the page to customize our website in the way that works best for you. 
 

Here's why web accessibility matters for our work: 

About 9.8 percent of the people living in the NJTPA region have a disability and they can often face barriers like inaccessible websites. This prevents people from being able to access information about projects and programs that may affect them or their community. 

In addition, nearly 14 percent of people in our region have limited English proficiency. The largest share of those (8 percent) speak Spanish or Spanish Creole. There are 31 different languages spoken in the NJTPA region.  
For more information about our non-discrimination policies, visit our Title VI pageOur accessibility brochure, provided below in English and Spanish, offers more information on how we’re working to include everyone in the planning process: 

Guide to using Recite Me 

For more information on Recite Me, check out their user guide here. Here's our quick guide to using the tool on our website: 

Screen Reader 
The screen reader helps people who are visually impaired or neuro-divergent to perceive and understand our website. Key features include: 

  • All content read aloud in a natural voice 

  • 35 different language options 

  • Speed controls and word-by-word highlighting 

  • The Recite Me toolbar allows you to highlight any text and create an MP3 file, which downloads automatically to your computer so you can listen to it offline 

Styling 
Recite Me supports people who are dyslexic, visually impaired or have a learning disability, by allowing them to change the way our website looks to make it easier to interact with. The features include: 

  • Adjusting text size and color and website background color 

  • Changing the text font type, including Open-Dyslexic 

  • A text only option, where all styling is stripped away. This leaves text only for your viewing, much like a document.  

Reading  
Reading content online can be a challenge for some people. To simplify and support your ability to read our content, Recite Me provides four tools: 

  • Ruler: Read line by line with no distractions of what is below 

  • Reading mask: Leaves only the information you want to concentrate on 

  • Magnifier: Zoom in to sections of the text making reading more clearly easier 

  • Margins: In text only mode you can use the margin feature to position content in the best place for you 

Translation 
By using Recite Me, you can quickly and easily translate all our website content into more than 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices.  

Fanwood, Hackensack selected for Transit Hub Planning Program

Posted: 4/7/2021 9:05:28 AM

A NJ TRANSIT train stops outside the Fanwood Train Station. A team of planners from the NJTPA and American Planning Association’s New Jersey Chapter (APA-NJ) are working with the Borough of Fanwood and City of Hackensack to develop transit hub plans.
 
The municipalities were selected to participate in APA-NJ’s Community Planning Assistance Program, which provides volunteers to work on the projects. This is the second time the NJTPA is partnering with APA-NJ on this program to develop transit hub plans. The program was first piloted in 2017 and is an outgrowth of Together North Jersey, a consortium of public and private partners led by the NJTPA and Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University that developed a comprehensive plan for sustainable development for North Jersey.
 
The Borough of Fanwood is developing a plan for the area around the rail station. The goal is to create a community-oriented, pedestrian-friendly town center that is connected to key community assets, like the Patricia M. Kuran Cultural Arts Center and the Fanwood Library. Fanwood launched a community survey in March to gather public input for the plan.
 
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr said the planning assistance comes at a great time.
 
“We have experienced a great transformation of our downtown and can now further improve the area, the train station itself and better link it all to the adjoining neighborhoods and facilities,” she said.
 
The City of Hackensack is developing plans for a transit gateway with new public spaces, better bicycle and pedestrian access and vibrant land uses around the Essex Street train station.
 
The station is located near Hackensack University Medical Center, dense residential areas, the Bergen County Courthouse and government buildings, and the Main Street redevelopment district. Volunteer planners are reaching out to residents, businesses, community leaders and government officials to develop a vision for the train station and surrounding area.
 
“Transit hub planning is about re-thinking how to better use our streets, sidewalks, plazas and open spaces to connect important destinations with residential and business areas and make transit stations a center of the surrounding community,” Hackensack Mayor John P. Labrosse, Jr. said.
 
To learn about NJTPA’s previous transit hub planning work through the Community Planning Assistance Program visit APA-NJ’s website.
 

COVID Crisis Alters Regional Freight System, NJTPA Report Says

Posted: 3/25/2021 12:18:53 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted North Jersey’s freight system, but the public and private sectors drew on lessons from previous disruptions to rapidly restore effective operations. Now they must turn to adapting the system to address lasting impacts of the crisis. Those are among the conclusions of COVID-19 and North Jersey Freight, an report issued as part of the NJTPA’s research for sits upcoming long-range transportation plan, Plan 2050: Transportation, People, Opportunity.

According to the paper, available on the Plan 2050 website, experience with September 11, 2001 and Superstorm Sandy “helped the region’s freight sector respond and adjust” to the pandemic. In particular, the region recognized the importance of “collaboration, coordination, and communication” to prevent the shutdown of distribution of food and other essential goods.

One example of collaboration was the formation of the New Jersey Food and Supply Chain Team with members of government, industry and the non-profit sector.  Among other efforts, the team  helped address food shortages in the state by assisting with repurposing goods that were not being used by closed restaurants. The Council on Port Performance, formed during Superstorm Sandy, helped ensure continued port operations. After a sharp decline in containers handled at the port in spring 2020, volumes bounced back to record levels by the fall, according the paper.

The crisis accelerated several trends that had already been underway, leading to lasting changes in regional freight. One was the growth of e-commerce. According to the paper, in 2010, e-commerce sales represented 6.4 percent of all U.S. retail sales. That grew to 21.3 percent in 2020, a 44 percent increase over the previous year. Companies have had to adjust their supply and distribution operations, including investing in new warehouse facilities. They have also faced labor shortages.

Among other changes cited in the paper were shifting production from unreliable overseas suppliers, maintaining more inventory on-hand, and enhanced deployment of technology and automation options.

As part of efforts to meet these trends, the paper calls for continued efforts to optimize the region’s multimodal freight system and “to apply effective practices, learn new lessons and pivot to the changing needs of people and businesses.”

Changes in Washington Could Boost Infrastructure Funding

Posted: 3/9/2021 3:30:07 PM

Infrastructure could benefit from a swirl of changes taking place in Washington, D.C., according to Erich Zimmermann, Deputy Director of the National Association of Regional Council (NARC).

Zimmermann, who is also NARC’s Director of Transportation Programs, presented a Federal Transportation Policy and Legislative Outlook at Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

He cited the new administration, shift in control of the U.S. Senate, and efforts to drive economic development as the nation works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic among the factors that could lead to infrastructure investment.

While the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill does not include funding for bridges or highways, Zimmerman said NARC expects infrastructure to be at the center of a COVID recovery package, which could include funding for roads and bridges, transit, electrical grids and broadband and more.

Zimmerman also noted that the Biden Administration has indicated it supports the Gateway Program, which would improve capacity along the Northeast Corridor. Related projects could see funding in the future.

Watch the full presentation below.

NJTPA Contest Asks Kids to Share Their Vision of Transportation in the Future

Posted: 2/10/2021 4:03:57 PM

The NJTPA launched a contest today for children ages 9 to 15 as part of its ongoing outreach for its next long-range transportation plan, Plan 2050: Transportation, People, Opportunity

Thirty years from now, our region’s youngest residents will be the ones using the transportation network. That’s why its important that they contribute to the NJTPA’s vision for the future of transportation in northern and central New Jersey. 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NJTPA can’t take its NJTPA On Air radio booth on the road, so this youth-outreach initiative has been converted into a one-minute podcast that challenges children and teens to answer this question: What do you think transportation will be like in the future, say when you are your parents’ age? 

Submissions can be short videos, audio recordings, drawings or poems. Participants are encouraged to use their imagination! There will be $100 gift cards offered as prizes for the best submissions in each of five age categories. Submissions are due by March 12.

Check out the contest video below and visit http://njtpa.org/onair for the contest rules and submission information.