The NJTPA has continued to work to advance transportation projects and programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. NJTPA Chair Kathryn DeFillippo, a Morris County freeholder, recognized this at Monday’s virtual Board meeting while also reflecting on how much has changed in recent weeks.
The NJTPA was already preparing its next long-range transportation plan, which will consider game changers — such as technological advancements and climate change — that could affect the future. The pandemic will be a key factor in this planning effort.
“We must consider how our plans and programs can help our region bounce back and adapt to the new realities of public health,” Freeholder DeFillippo said.
The Board began its meeting with a moment of silence for Jersey City Councilman Michael Yun, who served as an alternate member for several years. Councilman Yun died last month due to complications from COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has brought tragedy to families across our region and shaken our economy, threatening the lives and livelihoods of many, many of our friends and neighbors,” Chair DeFillippo said.
She also paid tribute to the essential workers who are putting themselves at risks to help others — healthcare workers, grocery store employees, factory and warehouse workers, first responders, truck drivers, delivery people and postal workers, transit workers, road maintenance crews and those working at the port.
“It should be noted that many of the essential workers stepping out of the safety of their homes every day are public servants working in the agencies that sit on this board, including NJDOT, NJ TRANSIT, and the Port Authority,” she said. “Others are employed by county or local governments. They all deserve our thanks for helping us get through these troubled times.”
While the NJTPA is not on the front lines, Chair DeFillippo noted that the agency must ensure the region remains eligible to receive federal funding by maintaining the Transportation Improvement Program, updating the long-range plan and monitoring air quality, among other things. She said the Board could also be tasked with approving transportation funding under future federal stimulus bills.
“I look forward to working with you to navigate these uncharted waters,” she said. “Above all, I hope you and your families stay safe. We will get through this together.”