NJTPA Update Blog

July 2021

NJTPA Must Continue Leadership on Transportation Resiliency, Board Hears

Posted: 7/16/2021 11:42:08 AM

NJTPA and other Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) can take a leadership role in moving climate change resiliency planning beyond basic research about vulnerabilities to more detailed action plans tailored to local conditions.  That was a key insight Anne Choate, Vice President of Energy, Environment, and Infrastructure at ICF, offered in a presentation at the NJTPA Board of Trustees’ July meeting.

Choate said studies of transportation resiliency needs around the country funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) over the last decade have yielded increasing knowledge to guide more “granular” and “place-based” investigations in each region.  Her firm, ICF, has consulted on these efforts at all levels of government.

She said New Jersey has faced particular challenges.  A 2020 study by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection found that by mid-century sea levels could rise by 1.4 feet and precipitation could increase 4 to 11 percent in the state.  That will exacerbate already severe flooding in many areas.  It will be accompanied by more frequent heat waves of longer duration, with increasing health impacts for seniors and other vulnerable populations.

She emphasized that the success of transportation resiliency efforts depends on recognizing the “interconnected and interdependent” nature of systems affected by climate change, including energy, water, health, natural resources and more.  This, she said, avoids creating “adaptation islands.”
She said NJTPA was an early leader in climate change resiliency planning through its participation in FHWA-sponsored studies, including exploring the impacts of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy and later identifying vulnerabilities in the Passaic River basin area. Lessons learned from these and other efforts, she said, will be reflected in guidebooks FHWA will be issuing on integrating resiliency into the planning process and in asset management.

MPOs, she said, are particularly important to resiliency efforts because climate impacts cross jurisdictional boundaries and touch many interests.  She said they have a  “unique ability” to convene diverse stakeholders, coordinate on a regional basis and balance competing concerns such as equity, mobility, access and health.  If done right, she said, resiliency planning provides “opportunities for synergy where you can achieve multiple goals.”

To gain support of the public and key officials, she said, MPOs can help build the “business case” for resiliency planning.  She gave the example of a detailed economic analysis done of proposed stormwater upgrades in Miami. While the improvements are costly, conducting the analysis enabled planners to have conversations with developers and others about their potential benefits “with real hard data in their back pockets.”
NJTPA First Vice Chair John Bartlett, a Passaic County Commissioner, expressed agreement with the approach, noting that for resiliency “inaction can cost more than action.”  He thanked Choate for her presentation. 

A recording of the presentation is available on the NJTPA YouTube Channel

NJTPA Seeks Public Input on Draft Long Range Transportation Plan and More

Posted: 7/6/2021 7:00:00 AM

The cover of Plan 2050, the NJTPA's long range transportation plan. Images show a delivery man, a cyclist, people walking, cars, a bus and a train.Transportation. People. Opportunity.
 
Those are the themes that the NJTPA’s draft long range transportation plan (LRTP) focuses on. The plan, which has a horizon year of 2050, is one of three core documents that the NJTPA is seeking public comment on through August 4.
 
The other documents are the Fiscal Year 2022-2025 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which is a four-year fiscally constrained agenda of transportation improvement projects drawn from the LRTP, and the Air Quality Conformity Determination, a federally required analysis of the LRTP and TIP used to demonstrate the funded projects, taken together, meet the standards set forth in New Jersey’s State Implementation Plan.

The cover of the fiscal year 2022-2025 transportation improvement program. In order to be eligible for federal funds, proposed projects must be approved by the NJTPA Board for inclusion in the TIP, which is updated every two years. The FY 2022-2025 TIP contains 263 projects and programs totaling $11.5 billion.

A virtual public meeting is being held July 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. to provide information about the products and to gather input. The public is invited to attend any time during the three-hour event. People interested in participating can review the drafts, provide feedback and register for the event at https://njtpa.org/publiccomment.
 
Plan 2050: Transportation, People, Opportunity, is a vision for investing wisely to improve roads, rail and other infrastructure to meet the needs of transportation users and support the regional economy.
 
The cover of the Air Quality Conformity Determination report. Images include a car driving on a highway, a train, bikeshare bikes and an electric vehicle parking sign.The plan incorporates input gathered through extensive public and stakeholder outreach. It was developed under the direction of the NJTPA Board of Trustees in close collaboration with partner agencies, including member city and county “subregions,” the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), NJ TRANSIT, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ), the state’s eight Transportation Management Associations (TMAs), and the Together North Jersey (TNJ) consortium, among others.
 
The plan considers disruptors experienced in 2020 and 2021 — the need to provide transportation to essential workers during the pandemic, growth in e-commerce, shifts to telework, a widespread embrace of walking and biking and opening streets to outdoor dining and other creative uses. It also considers ways to better address the mobility needs of minority and low income communities and anticipated disruptors, particularly advances in transportation technology, like driverless cars and an increased use of electric and alternative fuel vehicles, and the need to mitigate climate change.
 
In addition to its planning products, the NJTPA also seeks comments on NJDOT’s draft Fiscal Year 2022-2031 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).  The STIP is the federally required compilation of TIPs from the NJTPA and the state’s two other Metropolitan Planning Organizations (Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization).
 
All of the documents are on file at New Jersey Library Network libraries in the NJTPA region and available at https://njtpa.org/publiccomment. Comments can be submitted via email to [email protected] or by calling (862) 800-7457 (English) or (862) 800-7239 (Español) and leaving a voicemail.