NJTPA Update Blog

January

New Jersey Faces Difficult Recovery with Structural Changes, Economist Tells NJTPA

Posted: 1/13/2021 9:57:57 AM

New Jersey faces a long, slow recovery from the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rutgers University economist Dr. James W. Hughes said during a presentation at the January NJTPA Board meeting.

Like the rest of the nation, by the end of April 2020, New Jersey suffered the loss of all job gains realized over the past 10 years, he said. While the state’s economy started to recover in May, that recovery had begun to stall by the end of 2020. 

All the while, he said, life during the pandemic has accelerated structural changes throughout the economy, “added fuel to the fire” to economic disruptions. Among the changes:

  • The rapid adoption of remote work technologies is driving employers to consider a host of new work arrangements, including eliminating or reducing reliance on central offices.

  • The rapid expansion of e-commerce has led to growing failures of “brick and mortar” stores, which were already struggling to compete with online outlets.

  • Companies serving online customers are establishing new fulfillment centers close to population centers, changing land uses and adding delivery trucks to local streets.

  • As office towers in downtowns lose attractiveness, suburban work locations are benefiting, reversing recent trends.

  • While people who can work remotely are faring well, other workers—including many of the direct and indirect support staff for professionals—are suffering as part of a “k” shaped recovery that sees fortunes rising for some and falling for others.

The NJTPA will be considering these and other factors as it develops Plan 2050: Transportation, People, Opportunity, the region’s next long-range transportation plan.

Video of Hughes’ presentation, entitled “2021's Long Recovery Crawl—Coronavirus-Driven Disruptions and Upheavals Reshaping New Jersey,” can be viewed below:

 

Plan 2050 Background Paper Details NJTPA’s Commitment to Combat Climate Change

Posted: 1/8/2021 12:53:29 PM

Rising sea levels and more extreme weather patterns that increase flooding are among the climate change impacts of great concern to North Jersey communities. The NJTPA’s plans and programs can help avert and address those impacts, according to Climate Change and Transportation, a new background paper issued to inform the update of the long range transportation plan, Plan 2050: Transportation, People, Opportunity.

Annual precipitation in New Jersey is projected to increase 4 to 11 percent by 2050. Of particular concern, the paper says, is that the increase will come in the form of “more frequent, intense, and extreme rain events,” adding to the flooding in vulnerable communities along the region’s extensive coastline and waterways.

Along with broader disruptions to the economy, environment, quality of life and public heath, these impacts “create an urgent need” for the transportation sector to address climate change, the paper notes. Nationwide, transportation was the largest source of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions feeding climate change in 2018 at 28 percent, followed by electricity generation (27 percent) and industry (22 percent). In New Jersey, transportation’s contribution is much higher, accounting for 42 percent of total GHG emissions.

The NJTPA has supported the State of New Jersey’s legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives for addressing climate change, which are summed up in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s October 2020 Global Warming Response Act 80x50 Report.

The NJTPA’s plans and programs are also helping combat climate change effects by reducing GHG emissions and adapting infrastructure to be more resilient to flooding and other impacts. Among NJTPA contributions highlighted in the paper are:

  • Support for electrification of vehicles and the creation of vehicle charging systems, including a guidebook for communities to better accommodate electric vehicles.

  • Support for low-carbon transit and walking/biking options, and for Transit Oriented Development.

  • Oversight and modeling of air quality impacts of transportation investments, which target reducing pollutants whose emissions are tied to generation of GHGs

  • Studies to address the vulnerability of transporta­tion infrastructure to climate change, such as the 2019 Passaic River Basin Climate Resilience Planning Study.

  • Provision of grants under the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program that have been applied to electric vehicle infrastructure, diesel retrofits for vehicles and equipment, idle reduction technology, traffic signal optimization, Intelligent Transportation Systems and more.

  • Monitoring and analysis of regional progress including the updating of a regionwide GHG inventory slated for 2021.

These and other activities outlined in the paper represent the NJTPA’s commitment “to working with its partner agencies and the counties, cities and municipalities in the region to combat climate change and achieve sustainable transportation and a more sustainable environment.” These efforts will continue and be expanded under Plan 2050.