NJTPA Update Blog
Posted: 9/27/2023 9:39:57 AM
Trucks carried more than 90 percent of the domestic freight that travels through Hudson County in 2020, a level that’s expected to continue through 2050. While that can be a boon for employment and jobs, it can also present challenges when it comes to traffic, congestion and safety.
The Hudson County Truck Routes Assessment, funded through the NJTPA’s Subregional Studies Program, aimed to establish a comprehensive understanding of trucking’s impact on the infrastructure, economy and communities while also making recommendations to help trucks move more efficiently and reduce negative impacts on residents.
"A coordinated, long-term, strategic truck movement plan helps prioritize projects and ensure resources are used efficiently,” the study noted. “A combination of policies, regulations, infrastructure improvements, and enforcement aid in improving efficiencies, sustainability, and reducing impacts.”
Recommendations in the recently completed 331-page study ranged from the seemingly simple, such as designating curbside loading zones, adding signage and boosting enforcement on residential streets, to more innovative, like designating flexible shared space to serve as loading/unloading during peak commercial hours and general parking at other times, to encouraging the use of new technologies like e-cargo bikes to reduce truck deliveries.
The recommendations are organized by commercial, industrial, and residential.
The study also developed truck circulation and safety recommendations for nine geographic focus areas that were identified through stakeholder and public input as having significant truck traffic:
- Harrison Avenue and Newark-Jersey City Turnpike (Harrison and Kearny)
- Fish House Road/Pennsylvania Avenue/Central Avenue (Kearny)
- North Bergen and Union City
- North Hudson (consisting of West Side Avenue, US Route 1&9/Tonnelle Avenue, JFK Boulevard, and Bergenline Avenue)
- Journal Square (Jersey City)
- Global Container Terminal (Bayonne)
The study acknowledges that many of the recommendations will require coordination with municipalities while some may not be applicable or desired in certain communities.
Although crashes involving trucks represent a small proportion of total crashes within the County, specific areas see high frequencies of crashes, in particular sideswipe crashes, according to the study.
Enforcement and signage can help to keep large trucks off local roads and on more appropriate larger regional roadways, according to the study. Heavy trucks generally remain on the large truck network, however, medium-sized trucks use roads throughout the county for local deliveries. Medium trucks are defined as Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 7 to 13 tons and heavy trucks are those with GVW of more than 13 tons.
While the demand for goods continues to increase, the available space for roadways and infrastructure is static,” the study notes. “To meet the needs of goods movement, the efficiency of existing facilities and infrastructure must be increased while improving safety and preventing harm to our communities and residents – something that can only be achieved through strategic planning, design, policy, and investment to enhance the current system without disruption.”
The final report is available here.
Posted: 9/26/2023 12:34:11 PM
A new transportation plan for Essex County recommends a variety of policies, strategies, and studies as diverse as the county itself, such as, updating Complete Streets policies and plans; conducting corridor studies and traffic studies; and implementing Roadway Safety Audit and School Travel Plan improvements, among others.
Essex 2045, funded through the NJTPA’s Subregional Studies Program, updates the county’s previous Comprehensive Transportation Plan, completed in 2013. The effort included extensive community outreach and technical analysis to develop a plan for future infrastructure investments. “Essex 2045 seeks to balance the often conflicting needs of safety, equity, mobility, traffic congestion, commerce, job creation, and sustainability to achieve equitable outcomes and access to opportunity though a comprehensive program of strategies, plans, and projects,” the plan explains.
The plan forecasts future needs, including an estimated 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the county by 2045. That's 100 times more than the 250 existing ports.
Several recommendations relate directly to Complete Streets and Vision Zero, such as:
- Updating the county’s Complete Streets Policy and getting all 21 municipalities to adopt it;
- Adopting the Safe System Approach - which aims to build layers of protection to prevent crashes in the first place and minimize harm when they occur - as the guiding framework for transportation planning and infrastructure design;
- Initiating a Vision Zero Action Plan for the county or targeted municipalities with “significant equity concerns and disproportionate safety risks.”
More than 1,000 people provided feedback through public engagement efforts. Comments covered a variety of topics, including the safety and adequacy of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and the need for expanded intracounty transit service — especially in underserved communities.
The plan also prioritizes the Essex-Hudson Greenway
, a 9-mile connector between Jersey City and Montclair; the Morris Canal Greenway
, a multiuser trail spanning six counties, including Essex; and, the Newark Industrial Track corridor for potential bus rapid transit or light rail between Paterson and Newark, which was the focus of a previous subregional study in 2020
. “Developing a new Paterson-Newark rail alignment is responsive to the many comments received during the Essex 2045 community engagement effort expressing a strong interest in the expansion of intra-county public transit service,” Essex 2045 notes.
A scenario planning process examined how travel conditions and congestion might change over time as the population grows and new jobs are created. Three scenarios — existing year 2022, future baseline 2045, and future aspirational 2045 — were tested for Essex 2045, which found that an alternative mix of projects has the potential to achieve the “aspirational” goals, including improved safety, accessibility, and equity, expansion of intra-county transit and travel mode options, congestion relief, and mitigating truck impacts.
The plan recommends additional countywide studies of bicycle, pedestrian and micromobility; freight and goods movement; and roadway drainage and flooding.
The final report is available here
Posted: 9/18/2023 11:37:03 AM
For the first time in the 100-year history of the world’s busiest bridge, pedestrians and cyclists can connect from sidewalks on the New York and New Jersey sides of the Hudson River directly to the George Washington Bridge. Bicyclists no longer have to carry their bikes up stairs but instead can enjoy plazas and viewing platforms on either end, protected by bollards and pylons.
The changes are part of pedestrian and cyclist access improvements, which Alexander Levi, a principal architect in the Design Division of the Engineering Department at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, outlined in a presentation to the NJTPA Board of Trustees during its September 12 meeting.
Jay Shuffield, who represents the Port Authority on the NJTPA Board, said the bridge is a significant goods movement corridor, but it’s also the only direct Hudson River crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. The $2 billion to rehabilitate the bridge is funded entirely by Port Authority revenue, as toll roads are ineligible for federal funding, he said.
Levi said the bridge has never had an accessible way for people on bike or foot to cross the span. Othmar Ammann, the original engineer, designed a sidewalk that went from anchorage to anchorage but did not connect back on both sides to the respective approaches. The bicycle and pedestrian improvements are part of a larger rehabilitation project called Restore the George.
“The multi-year effort to ‘Restore the George’ gave us the opportunity to not only replace the suspender ropes, check the main cables, and do a whole bunch of upgrades, but finally consider accessibility across the bridge for people making their way across without a car,” Levi said. Photo Credits: Port Authority NY NJ
Work on the North Walk began in 2017 and was recently completed. Long switchback ramps 11 to 14 feet wide were installed to provide access, eliminating the need for cyclists to navigate stairs and hairpin turns. The New Jersey ramp connects to the Long Path in Palisades Interstate Park in Fort Lee and there is also a viewing area.
The North Walk opened in February and has seen “incredible volume” even during the week. “It’s not just a leisure bridge, it’s become more than ever a commuting connection between the two sides,” Levi said.
The southern side of the bridge is now closed to pedestrians and cyclists. The new South Walk is expected to open in 2027. Once both sides are complete, there are plans for the North Walk to be used exclusively by cyclists and for the South Walk to be for pedestrians and people in wheelchairs, Levi said.
In addition to the new access ramps, platforms were built around the bridge towers to eliminate successive 90-degree turns and instead allow for more visual distance. “There’s a suggestion of a shared use environment and approach,” he said. “You see other people coming and you respect and monitor the distance as you head toward them.”
Specifically on the Fort Lee side, the project integrated an entire upgrade of the biking infrastructure along Hudson Terrace, including a bidirectional bike path and intersection upgrades to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. “For the first time in my memory as a cyclist, you can come down from your 50- to 100-mile ride and actually cross safely onto the bike path, with an actual light that is made for your turn onto this plaza,” Levi said.
Previously, there was no space for cyclists to meet as they waited to travel north along the Palisades, so they gathered dangerously along the streets. Now, there is an entry plaza on both the New York and New Jersey side, with bollards and pylons and a gate for a sense of placemaking.
The NJTPA also is coordinating with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council on a feasibility study of a separated walking-biking path along the Palisades Interstate Parkway and U.S. 9W corridor connecting the George Washington Bridge to the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, formerly the Tappan Zee Bridge, which also has upgraded walking and biking facilities.
Levi described it as an unprecedented moment in the GWB’s history to “connect its original sidewalks to its respective communities that it serves.”
He noted that the project also includes an educational component. “You also get to celebrate and understand and learn about the bridge in a way that you hadn’t before, with interpretive displays and places to rest and look at the towers.”
Posted: 9/14/2023 9:31:49 AM
The need for flexible travel services, centralized information, improved driver training, and safe and convenient access to destinations are among the greatest transportation needs identified for disadvantaged populations in the NJTPA region.
NJTPA staff recently worked with service providers, community representatives and partner agencies to update the Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan (CHSTP) for the 13-county region. The goal of the update was to prioritize the needs and strategies identified in Go Farther, the CHSTP adopted in 2017. Go Farther was prepared with consultant support from the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University and data collection and public outreach support from the state’s eight Transportation Management Associations (TMAs). It identified the transportation needs of older adults (those 65 and older), low-income people, veterans, and individuals with disabilities and provides strategies for meeting those needs and prioritizing transportation services for funding and implementation.
The update includes new demographic data, findings from a stakeholder survey and focus group, and re-prioritized recommendations to better address the transportation needs of these populations.
The region’s TMAs, along with non-profits and local governments, are important implementers of this plan. NJTPA Executive Director David Behrend noted the TMAs have travel training programs that help older adults, those with disabilities, and others better understand and use transit services in their areas. “It’s an innovative and worthy program, and a good example of the kind of work encouraged by this plan,” he said at the NJTPA’s September 12 Board of Trustees meeting.
The more recent survey results indicated several needs that were more relevant than in 2017, including driver training, performance, and retention; fare subsidies; flexible service; and accessibility.
In addition to reduced fares for older adults and people with disabilities, the update identified other prioritized strategies such as partnering with Transportation Network Companies (TNC), and expanding and replicating existing non-profit care services with paid or volunteer drivers and existing cab subsidy programs.
The four target populations comprise 40 percent of the overall population of the NJTPA region:
- 40 percent, people 65 and older
- 11 percent, low-income population
- 10 percent, people with disabilities
- 3 percent, veterans
While it is difficult to forecast veteran populations in the future, other target populations are expected to grow by double digits by 2050:
- +22 percent, people 65 and older
- +14 percent, low-income population
- +11 percent, people with disabilities
Ocean County ranks highest or very high for all four target populations. It has the highest proportion of people with disabilities and also the most significant number of veterans, substantially larger than other counties. Essex County has the largest number of people with disabilities and along with Hudson, Passaic and Union Counties, ranks very high for low-income populations. Bergen County ranks high for the 65+ population.
Posted: 8/31/2023 8:55:46 AM
The NJTPA is accepting applications for the Vibrant Places Program. This program provides technical support for a range of creative placemaking projects that enable future place-based investments, complementing other local economic development initiatives. Examples of past projects include visioning plans for underutilized locations, marketing plans, wayfinding designs, public art plans and visitors guides.
Eligible applicants include municipal and county governments, and non-profit, community-based, or non-governmental organizations in the NJTPA region. Special consideration is given to collaborations between municipalities, counties, and non-governmental organizations.
Up 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 subject-matter experts as needed. Projects should be small in scale and must be able to be completed within three to five months. All projects must be completed by May 31, 2024.
For additional information, including evaluation criteria, project examples/ideas, and detailed application instructions, visit the Vibrant Places page on the Together North Jersey website where you can find:
- The application instructions document, which describes the application requirements and selection criteria.
- The application form, which is to be completed and submitted with the application package.
- A recording of an informational presentation about the program.
- A link to sign up for office hours to speak with VTC staff and ask questions about the program or your application.
The application deadline is September 30. Notice of decision will be made in October. Projects are anticipated to begin late 2023.
For more information, contact Miriam Salerno at [email protected]
Posted: 8/30/2023 8:15:50 AM
The NJTPA just released an Active Transportation Plan to provide a blueprint for creating a “safe, comfortable, and connected network” for walking and biking in the northern and central New Jersey region. This plan was crafted against the backdrop of a growing interest in walking and biking that emerged during the COVID lockdown in 2020. The plan is posted here.
The Active Transportation Plan aims to connect people and places in an environmentally sustainable way. The plan aligns with other NJTPA programs, such as promoting complete streets, transit oriented development, and multimodal safety. The plan was the subject of a presentation by NJTPA staff planner Keith Hamas at the NJTPA Joint Committee meeting on August 28 (a video of the presentation is here).
The plan revolves around several key principles:
- Safety: emphasizing the need to reduce bike and pedestrian crashes
- Connectivity: to create reliable walking and biking routes
- Opportunity: ensuring equitable access to non-motorized transportation options, particularly for underserved populations
- Participation: encouraging more people to regularly bike and walk
- Engagement: to gather the perspectives of traditionally underrepresented groups
The public engagement process for developing the plan included a mix of pop-up events, where the project team facilitated discussion and participation in an online survey and web map. These public input tools helped create an understanding of people’s preferences and the challenges they face with walking and biking. “Whether in urban, suburban or rural areas,” the plan finds, “most residents are seeking more opportunities to walk and bike, whether for commuting, for health, or for fun.”
To expand opportunities, the plan identifies a conceptual regional network consisting of more than 1,700 miles of roadways recommended for walking and biking improvements across North Jersey. More than 5.6 million people live within one mile of the network. The plan maps a half-mile buffer along roadways to assist in identifying possible low-stress alternatives to high-demand, high-stress routes.
Additionally, the plan includes a strategy guide to help cities and towns implement the recommendations. This guide outlines actions and strategies in various categories like capacity building, coordination, data collection, equity, funding, and community engagement.
The plan also offers two case studies, focusing on Parish Drive in Wayne Township and Main Street in the Boroughs of Stanhope and Netcong. A third case study focuses on best practices for designing active transportation infrastructure through major highway interchanges, which often present barriers and hazards along biking routes.
The NJTPA will offer ongoing support for implementing the plan recommendations including sharing data and a map viewer tool to assist counties and municipalities in prioritizing efforts.
Posted: 8/25/2023 12:54:56 PM
The NJTPA is seeking young adults with ideas for how to improve transportation and make northern and central New Jersey a vibrant place where people want to live.
Recruitment is underway for UpNext North Jersey, an advisory group open to residents of the NJTPA’s 13-county region who are ages 21 to 30. The NJTPA, with assistance from the Public Outreach and Engagement Team at Rutgers, launched the program in 2019 to engage young adults in the transportation planning process.
“As we prepare to update our Long Range Transportation Plan, it’s more important than ever 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. “UpNext members will help us create a vision for our region’s future.”
Members of the UpNext North Jersey advisory group will provide input on various ongoing NJTPA projects and programs, like the Long Range Transportation Plan and other initiatives at the county or community level.
“You don’t need to be a planner to serve on this advisory group. We’re hoping to recruit members as diverse as the 13-county region that we represent to ensure our plans reflect the needs of everyone who lives here,” NJTPA Executive Director David Behrend said.
As part of the program, the NJTPA provides UpNext North Jersey participants with unique opportunities to engage with thought leaders and decision makers throughout New Jersey. Events include leadership training opportunities, trips and site visits to important locations around the region, arts and cultural experiences, and opportunities to give back 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.
The NJTPA region includes Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.
After holding primarily virtual events since early 2020, UpNext returned to in-person events in late 2022, including a walking tour of Jersey City’s pedestrian plaza and bicycle facilities and a tour of Port Newark led by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Events are expected to take place quarterly beginning in summer 2023, and the NJTPA and Rutgers will be looking to UpNext members to help plan and lead events, using them as opportunities for participants to be creative and to hone their leadership skills.
Applications are being accepted through September 30. Click here to apply. To learn more, visit https://njtpa.org/UpNext.
Posted: 8/22/2023 12:05:58 PM
If you’re not a regular transit user, finding your way to a job or doctor’s appointment by bus or rail can be a daunting task. For older people or those with disabilities, it can be an even greater challenge.
Transportation Management Associations (TMA) are trying to help. They offer a variety of travel training programs to help people get around by public transportation, providing a sense of freedom by enabling them to them to travel without relying on others.
Donna Allison, executive director of RideWise, described the travel training programs at the Aug. 14 RTAC meeting, including those offered by Cross County Connection, goHunterdon, Greater Mercer TMA, and My TMA/RideWise.
Travel training, provided to small groups or individuals, often includes field trips to teach participants how to travel safely and independently. In addition to serving older adults, people with disabilities and special needs students, the programs train social service staff who may want to learn about the buses and trains in the area so they can help their clients.“We’re connecting people to jobs, classes at local colleges, recreation and social opportunities, and essential appointments and services," Allison said.
Sometimes the barrier is not the availability of transportation but knowing how to find it and use it, according to Allison. Individuals have to know how to plan their trip, where it stops, how to pay the fare. “Not all of this information is centralized, most is limited online, which not everyone can access,” she said.
In 2022, a pilot program trained 120 students at Camden County High School’s transitional program. Students in the high school have autism spectrum disorder and receive customized training to meet their individual needs, “which is the hallmark of travel training for each TMA,” Allison said.
The transportation coaching program at goHunterdon assists individuals in small groups with using Hunterdon County’s LINK bus system. It also has worked with Hunterdon Regional Central High School’s special education individual community living program to coach students and is currently working with five regional high schools to develop a program for the new school year.
The Greater Mercer TMA training program for transitioning high school students recently took students from Steinert High School on a bus trip along Route 130 on to a retail area with a movie theater. A few weeks later, students traveled on their own to see a movie. Allison said. “Not only did students learn about independence but also about financial savings by taking transit for only a dollar fare.”
RideWise and its partners trained 436 individuals through a series of in-class sessions and field trips in the last fiscal year. This past spring, they combined travel training with job skills preparation. Partnering with a local restaurant, they took students to a restaurant via public transit where they learned how to take orders, make change, and serve guests. The program will expand thanks to a grant from NJ TRANSIT.
Other TMAs, including Avenues in Motion, EZ Ride and Hudson TMA, don’t currently have formal travel training programs but provide trip planning. Keep Middlesex Moving outsources training to the New Jersey Travel Independent Program (NJ TIP) at the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center. “It’s a very labor-intensive program so the larger the service area, the harder it probably is to implement because it requires a lot of staff time,” Allison said.
As she presented photos of two excited participants at the end of their recent trips – one who was taught how to use Uber rideshare to get around and another who took part in travel training to get to a volunteer opportunity at local hospital – Allison said: “This is really what travel training is all about: the freedom and the ability to get where you want to go without having to rely on someone else.”
Posted: 7/18/2023 12:41:23 PM
The New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects has recognized the Main Avenue Local Concept Development Study in the City of Passaic with a Merit Award.
The award was given to Passaic County, the City of Passaic, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and consultants Arterial and Sam Schwartz. The study, completed in 2021, was led by Passaic County in partnership with the City of Passaic, with funding from the NJTPA’s Local Capital Project Delivery Program. It explored ways to improve travel safety, traffic flow, access to transit, walkability and support economic development along the corridor from Monroe Street to Gregory Street. The study recommends converting a parking area in the middle of the corridor into green space.
“We’re honored to have the Main Avenue study recognized. This project is a great example of how counties and cities can work together with the NJTPA to use federal dollars to plan local infrastructure improvements,” said Passaic County Commissioner John W. Bartlett, Chair of the NJTPA Board of Trustees. “The vision this study presents will improve safety while supporting the local economy, which are goals of the NJTPA’s long-range transportation plan. Add in other initiatives, like new parks funded by state Green Acres and county Open Space funds, plus support and funding for businesses and schools, and studies like this one can catalyze the transformation of a community.”
Passaic City Mayor Hector Lora said, “Once this project is eventually completed it will be a game changer for our downtown business district. It will create a sense of place for visitors from all around.”
Concept development is the first phase of work in the Local Capital Project Delivery Program. Concept development studies review existing conditions and needs, and identify possible solutions to address them. Completing this initial phase of work allows the county to seek federal funding for additional work, including preliminary engineering and eventually construction.
The study included extensive public engagement. When the COVID-19 pandemic affected the ability to hold in-person meetings, they were shifted to virtual events, including a Facebook Live hosted by Mayor Lora.
“Transparency and community involvement are at the cornerstone of my administration. After I hosted multiple virtual and in-person meetings with residents and stakeholders, they recommended converting the parking area in the middle of Main Avenue into a promenade and adding reverse angle parking adjacent to the businesses, which was incorporated into the study,” Mayor Lora said.
The promenade would have shade trees, plantings, a walkway, and seating. This concept includes bicycle lanes and would reduce the road from two travel lanes in each direction to one to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians. The study also recommends converting the intersection of Main Avenue, Pennington Avenue, State Street and River Drive into a modern roundabout to improve safety and the flow of traffic.
The project is expected to advance to the preliminary engineering phase when the NJTPA Board of Trustees votes on a new Transportation Improvement Program in September.
Posted: 7/17/2023 9:00:00 AM
Somerset County and the NJTPA recently completed a study that explored ways to eliminate an at-grade rail crossing on South Main Street in Bound Brook.
The Port Reading Secondary Line crosses South Main Street at-grade. Conrail Shared Asset Operations owns and operates the line, which extends 16 miles from a junction with the Lehigh Line west of South Main Street to Port Reading on the Arthur Kill.
Up to six round-trip trains, with up to 100 railcars, use the line each day. It typically takes about 3 minutes for the trains to cross South Main Street, causing traffic to back up into Bound Brook, South Bound Brook and Middlesex Borough. During peak traffic hours, this can cause vehicle delays of 15 to 20 minutes. The nearby Raritan Valley Line and Lehigh Line cross the road on elevated rail bridges.
This project was conducted through the NJTPA’s Freight Concept Development Program. Concept development studies explore different options for addressing a problem and culminate in the selection of a preliminary preferred alternative, which can be advanced to preliminary engineering for further refinement, and then eventually construction. Stakeholders and the public are engaged to help establish which needs the study should address and consider the various options. These studies also consider any impacts the project could have on the environment, cultural resources, and Environmental Justice communities.
Fourteen different options were developed and evaluated as part of this study. Some of the options were dismissed because they would encroach on existing businesses or the Old Stone Arch Bridge, a historic structure near the rail line. The study also briefly explored whether the road could be rerouted below the rail line, however this was not possible due to the water elevation of the adjacent Raritan River.
The preferred option recommends adding new track parallel to the Lehigh Line. A new bridge would be built to carry this track over South Main Street. This alignment also calls for new railroad bridges over the Green Brook and over River Road in Middlesex Borough as the new alignment reconnects to the existing Port Reading Secondary line. The study estimates the project would cost $53.7 million. This includes acquiring right-of-way, environmental remediation, engineering, relocating utilities and construction.
While the at-grade crossing is in Bound Brook, the study would include moving track in neighboring Middlesex Borough.
This study can be used to seek grant funding to advance the project.