NJTPA Update Blog

December 2018

Metropolitan Planning Organizations from Four States Hold Annual Summit

Posted: 12/11/2018 12:00:00 AM

Metropolitan Planning Area Forum members meet to discuss coordination

The Metropolitan Area Planning (MAP) Forum, a consortium of nine metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, met Dec. 6 to discuss common issues and concerns, and proposed projects affecting the region.

NJTPA Chairman Angel Estrada welcomed attendees to the annual meeting, held at NJTPA in Newark. He said the forum allows the MPOs to coordinate and discuss the “complex transportation challenges and related issues that cross our jurisdictional borders.”

He noted that during the NJTPA’s recent federal certification review, the U.S. Department of Transportation representatives recognized the MAP Forum’s effectiveness.

“This strong validation from our federal funding agencies gives us renewed energy and an even stronger sense of purpose as we continue our collaborative work together,” he said. This includes the advancement of trans-Hudson improvements, which has become “a pressing safety and security issue that must be addressed,” he said.

The meeting included a discussion of a work program to guide the forum over the coming year, followed by presentations and discussions of multi-state activities in three areas. First, Gerry Bogacz, New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, highlighted the activities of the Multi-State Freight Working Group, which has been focusing on the integration of freight and land use development, as well as changes in freight patterns due to growing e-commerce.

Next, Rick Cippoletti, NJTPA, spoke about MPO coordination in preparing for transformative technologies such as greater numbers of electric vehicles and the prospect of automated vehicles. He also highlighted MPO coordination in preparing federally required performance measures and improvements in transportation modeling.

There was also a discussion on resiliency. Jeff Perlman, NJTPA, addressed efforts to implement the findings of the federally sponsored multi-state study of impacts of Hurricane Sandy and other storms. The NJTPA, he said, is coordinating a resiliency study of the Passaic River Basin, which includes participation by New York representatives.

The meeting also included presentations on sustainability, including the results of federal sustainable communities grants in New York-Connecticut and in North Jersey. Shawn Brede, New York Department of City Planning, discussed efforts to build upon the New York-Connecticut sustainability plan by fostering transit-oriented development around four proposed new Metro North rail stations in the Bronx. Miriam Salerno, Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, discussed the ongoing technical assistance provided by the Together North Jersey consortium, which was created with support from the federal grant. Becky Bradley, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, addressed sustainability programs in Lehigh Valley.

The next meeting of the MAP Forum in planned for the spring.

Workshop Explores Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Posted: 12/10/2018 12:00:00 AM

Ifeoma Ebo, of the New York City Office of Criminal Justice, speaks about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Streets are routinely redesigned to improve the safety of drivers, people walking and cyclists. But what about using designs to improve safety by reducing crime? Good lighting, landscaping, well-designed sidewalks and public spaces can all make a community feel safer, according to a panel of speakers at the Together North Jersey Institute’s last workshop on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).

CPTED brings together different stakeholders — residents, business owners, law enforcement, planners and engineers — to consider how an area’s physical features can be improved to deter crime.

Trimming trees along a street so that it’s easier to see suspicious activity, is one small step a community can take to encourage natural surveillance, which can improve safety, said Ifeoma Ebo, of the New York City Office of Criminal Justice. Another step is creating well-maintained public spaces that will attract more people and to consider using cameras to deter criminal activity.

“The more eyes that you have observing the more cameras you have observing the less opportunity there is for crime to occur,” she said.

She also said that CPTED can help build important relationships, but bringing together community members and local law enforcement to tackle problems together.

Ebo and several other speakers said that in order for CPTED to be successful it must start at the community level, rather than a local government or organization coming in and telling the community to change.

Getting community members involved in the projects also encourages them to take ownership of the redesigned spaces, said Dave Lustberg, of Arterial Consultants, who developed a CPTED plan for the City of Paterson.

“It can’t be done for or to the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s really something that has to be driven by the community.”

Pamela Daniels of the United Vailsburg Services Organization spoke about a CPTED effort on Pine Grove Terrace in Newark. There is an alley behind the homes on Pine Grove Terrace and Alexander Street, known as The Lane or Alexander Alley, which has become a dumping ground for trash and a place where crime occurs. Residents suggested splitting the property up and adding it to the adjoining lots, however that area has a high number of vacant and abandoned properties, Daniels said.

So the group worked with graduate students at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers and came up with two other concepts. One would create a bike lane and tie in a local bike shop to teach people about maintenance and repairs. Another would transform the alley into a public meeting space with a community garden and a café. The students also proposed plans for improving Pine Grove Avenue, which is wide for a one-way street and has some safety concerns.

Daniels said the group is now working to build support for one of the options and raise funds to make it a reality. In the spring they will conduct a demonstration project, which includes temporarily bumping out the curbs, to slow traffic and show the community what potential safety improvements could look like. They are also planning a farm-to-table community dinner in The Lane so that people can envision the space’s potential.

NJTPA’s Regional Transportation Advisory Committee Elects New Leadership

Posted: 12/3/2018 12:00:00 AM

Liza Betz is presented a resolution for her service as committee chair.

Mark Jehnke, Ocean County’s Supervising Engineer, and Barkha Patel
, a Senior Planner in Jersey City’s Division of City Planning, were elected chair and vice chair, respectively, of the NJTPA’s Regional Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) on December 3.

Jehnke most recently served as the committee’s vice chair. He takes the helm from Liza Betz, Transportation Planning Manager in Union County’s Department of Economic Development, who served as chair for two years.

Both Jehnke and Patel were elected to two-year terms.

The RTAC is comprised of technical staff from each of the NJTPA’s 15 subregions — the 13 counties in northern and central New Jersey and the cities of Jersey City and Newark — as well as representatives from NJ TRANSIT, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the Port Authority.

The committee honored Betz with a resolution thanking her for her service as chair, praising her for improving and enhancing subregional participation in the transportation planning process.

“In her role as RTAC Chair, Liza Betz has been a strong advocate for the subregions, and worked with Central Staff to further increase efficiencies of the Subregional Studies Program and the Subregional Transportation Planning Program,” the resolution states. “The record of leadership by Liza Betz helps ensure that RTAC serves an increasingly important and evolving advisory role in the transportation planning process at the NJTPA.”