NJTPA Update Blog

December 2019

Students Help Conduct Safety Audit of Main Avenue, Passaic

Posted: 12/13/2019 2:16:42 PM

Students look at a map of Main Avenue in Passaic.By Aimee Jefferson
On a clear, crisp November day, 30 students from the Passaic Academy for Science & Engineering set out on a road safety audit (RSA) to investigate how to improve Main Avenue, the City of Passaic’s downtown core. The students were led by the project team of the Main Avenue Local Concept Development (LCD) study as one of the outreach efforts to better understand how the corridor is used.

It was one of 38 RSAs conducted in northern New Jersey, and supported by the NJTPA, since 2010. Recognized by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as a proven safety countermeasure, RSAs bring together a wide range of engineering, planning, governmental and enforcement professionals — and sometimes students — to review the safety characteristics of a planned or existing road and brainstorm substantive design solutions to reduce crash severity.

In preparation for the audit and as one of their Data Analytics class assignments, the students reviewed the corridor’s pedestrian and bicycle crash data to identify recurring patterns, such as distracted drivers causing half the crashes.

The day of the audit, the project team (consisting of NJTPA, county, municipal and consultant staff) met with the students to talk about engineering solutions to improve road safety. The students’ perspectives were invaluable as many of them walk the corridor on their way to school. Their findings included observed maintenance needs, deteriorated sidewalks, vehicles parked too close to bus stops, empty tree pits, and pedestrians crossing mid-block from the parking median.

After the walk, the students returned to the school to share their ideas. They suggested converting the central parking median into plaza space for cultural events and vendors; adding more greenery to the corridor; providing bike lanes; and adding curb extensions at the intersections to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians. One student team recommended improving bus stop conditions to make it feel safer and more convenient for passengers. The audits findings will be incorporated into the study’s final report, which will recommend a single preferred alternative for the future layout of Main Avenue.

Recommendations from other RSAs conducted in northern New Jersey have been incorporated into construction projects as part of the NJTPA’s Local Safety Program. For example, safety improvements to  Washington Avenue in Carlstadt in Bergen County, incorporated several recommendations from an RSA, including installation of a high-intensity activated crosswalk beacon, a crosswalk, additional sidewalks and a concrete median barrier, all of which were constructed in 2018  through the Local Safety Program.

The NJTPA and its partners view RSAs as a flexible, effective and fast way to generate practical recommendations that address data-driven and observed safety issues along selected roads. More information on RSA’s is available on NJTPA’s website.

Industrial Real Estate Market is Booming, Expert Panel Says

Posted: 12/12/2019 2:39:07 PM

Panelists discuss the industrial real estate market.

The real estate demand for warehouse and distribution facilities in northern New Jersey is so strong, even properties once heavily contaminated are now in play.  That was among the insights from a panel discussion on the New Jersey Industrial Real Estate Market at the December 9 NJTPA Freight Initiatives Committee meeting.
Morris County Freeholder Kathryn DeFillippo, NJTPA Third Vice Chair and a member of the committee, introduced the panelists, noting that this is NJTPA’s third annual meeting focusing on the topic.  She said the “market has been red hot with major new developments continuing to occur.” 

William Waxman, Executive Vice President of the real estate firm CBRE, said 2019 was “a great year.” While the demand for space has pushed up leasing rates, users have generally accepted them, he said. The growing number of e-commerce facilities, he said, were involved not only in sales to consumers but handling returns, which can involve 30 percent of items ordered. He said New Jersey remains attractive to companies seeking close access to population centers and for “mid-mile” distribution facilities serving a multi-state region.

While many companies are seeking to “go green,” he said, the trend towards ultra-fast delivery to consumers creates harmful impacts including congestion, pollution and waste “There are other costs we need to think about,” he said adding that the current practices may not be sustainable.  His presentation is here (pdf)

Matt Schlindwein, President of Development and Construction at Greek Development, described his company’s development of 4.1 million square feet of distribution facilities at Tremly Point in Linden. Crucial to the success of the development, he said, was working with the municipality to create a structured payment in lieu of taxes agreement that allowed predictable financing. Some buildings on the site have divisible space to attract diverse tenants. The company has constructed an overpass over a rail line to facilitate access.

One of the attractions of the development — similar to others throughout North Jersey — he said, is that “you can reach one-third of the U.S. population in a day’s drive… and about 10 percent of that population in about an hour.”  His presentation is here (pdf)

Jeff Milanaik, Northeast Region Partner with Bridge Development Partners, said his company was redeveloping the Ingersoll Rand site in Phillipsburg with 4 million square feet of warehousing and distribution space. Reclaiming an industrial site such as this, he said, presents many challenges, not just contamination but technical challenges involving the soil and elevations. Gaining cooperation and confidence of local governments was also crucial. 

He said a big attraction of sites in northern New Jersey is access to an available labor force. In economically depressed Phillipsburg, the project offered much needed jobs. 

“It’s exciting to be part of something like that” he added. He said his company recognizes that there are great opportunities in redeveloping other “urban infill legacy sites” in New Jersey. His presentation is here (pdf)

Despite the current strong market, all the panelists agreed that unforeseen developments on Wall Street or elsewhere could derail the progress. The business cycle, they recognized, remains in effect.