NJTPA Update Blog

January 2022

Somerset County Honors NJTPA-Funded Study with Excellence in Planning Award

Posted: 1/27/2022 3:03:27 PM

Cover of the Downtown Raritan Vision Plan showing an illustration with people playing games on a street that has been closed to traffic.Somerset County’s Office of Planning, Policy, and Economic Development gave an Excellence in Planning Award to the Borough of Raritan, NJTPA and consultant FHI Studios for the Raritan Sustainable Economic Development Plan.

The Somerset County Planning Board announced the 2021 Land Development and Planning Awards this week. The Raritan study was among four projects that were recognized.

“We hope the public recognition of these projects will inspire residents and local leaders to support eco-friendly and sound land development and planning,” said Somerset County Commissioner Deputy Director Melonie Marano in a statement. “With efficient and sustainable land development we can continue to advance an eco-friendly infrastructure, optimize our land use for future land preservation, and save money when we have efficient and sustainable communities.”

The plan, completed in June 2021, was funded through the NJTPA’s Planning for Emerging Centers Program, which provides technical assistance to help municipalities create more sustainable, transit-supportive and walkable communities, as well as develop comprehensive approaches to strategic planning at the local level.

The Borough of Raritan sought assistance with creating a plan to help maintain and expand existing downtown employment and economic activity. The plan resulted in the creation of three documents:

  • Downtown Raritan Vision Plan, which presents a people-centered approach to economic development, with the goal of advancing projects that support both existing and new residents.
  • Downtown Redevelopment Plan, a regulatory framework to help implement the Vision Plan.
  • Implementation Toolbox, action items and steps to help guide the Borough and its partners in implementing the Vision Plan.

The Planning for Emerging Centers Program will be accepting applications for the next round of funding shortly. Information about the solicitation will be posted at njtpa.org/PEC.

Electric Vehicle Market in New Jersey Gaining Support and Attracting Buyers

Posted: 1/20/2022 10:05:59 AM

electric car charging in Newark NJFor potential electric car buyers, 2022 could be an “exciting year,” with new vehicles providing “lots of variety and choices” and new laws expanding incentives and making charging more convenient, according to Pamela Frank, CEO, ChargEVC-NJ, who briefed the NJTPA Board at its January meeting.

Frank said the non-profit ChargEVC-NJ was formed in 2016 to include a “chorus” of electric vehicle stakeholders—car buyers, environmentalists, manufacturers and auto dealerships—seeking to advance the market for the vehicles. At the time, the market in the state was relatively weak, with few buying incentives or other support programs.

The market, she said, got a big boost in 2020 with the enactment of new state laws. In addition to buying incentives, state law now supports the creation of a statewide network of public charging stations. The goal is to have public fast chargers available every 25-30 miles along the 42 roadways in the state that carry 80 percent of miles driven, she said

Most recently, she noted, the state has adopted California goals for clean trucks, which will support increasing numbers of electric trucks operating in New Jersey each year. At the same time, the new federal infrastructure law expands tax credits by thousands of dollars for vehicle purchases and supports nationwide charging infrastructure.

Car makers, meanwhile, are investing billions in factories, batteries and vehicle designs. “Seems like every week there’s another announcement” of a new electric vehicle model being brought to market, she said. “And it’s continuing.”

Consumer demand is growing too she said, though she said it may take a few months to address supply chain issues which now limit vehicle availability in the state. She said electric vehicle purchases often occur in clusters, driven by local social networks. “Once one neighbor gets one, the whole neighborhood starts to pick up on this,” she said.

The vehicles are an increasingly a practical choice, she said, with a number of charging options including at-home garage charging and public fast charging depots, where typically it takes 20 minutes to achieve an 80 percent vehicle charge. She noted that this is more than adequate since most trips are less than 40 miles and battery range is often around 300 miles.

She urged the county representatives to consider electric vehicles for their fleets and to assist municipalities in adopting them. Cost savings are one important reason. In her own case, she said a conventional vehicle would cost her about $10,000 a year to fuel. In contrast, her battery electric vehicle charged overnight in her garage costs only $800 per year.

She said county and local governments should begin now to plan electric vehicle adoption to they can “leverage some really attractive incentives that we expect in the market.” The presentation can be viewed on YouTube.

NJTPA has compiled electric vehicle resources to assist municipalities and counties with implementation. They can be viewed at njtpa.org/ev.

New Jersey to Receive $1.14B in Federal Funding to Fix Bridges

Posted: 1/14/2022 3:05:26 PM

A truck drives over the Sixth Avenue Bridge over the Passaic River in Paterson.New Jersey will receive $1.14 billion over five years through a new federal funding program, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday.

The Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, and Construction Program, or Bridge Formula Program, is one of several new funding initiatives approved as part of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law in November.

“Much of our region’s infrastructure is old and subject to heavy daily wear and tear,” said Passaic County Commissioner John W. Bartlett, Chair of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. “These funds will help North Jersey and the rest of the state repair and replace more bridges, making travel safer and more efficient overall. The NJTPA looks forward to working with the state to make sure these federal dollars are put to good use.”

The program, administered by the Federal Highway Administration, aims to repair about 15,000 highway bridges nationwide that are in poor condition. New Jersey has 502 bridges in poor condition. The program provides $5.3 billion in the current fiscal year, including $229.4 million for New Jersey, and $26.5 billion total over five years.

In addition to funding highway bridges, the program dedicates money to “off-system” bridges, which are locally owned and not part of the federal-aid highway system. To incentivize states to use the funding for local bridges, the federal government is offering to cover 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating the spans. Typically, the state or local governments must pay up to 20 percent of the cost.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is thrilled to launch this program to fix thousands of bridges across the country – the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the Interstate highway system,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “Modernizing America’s bridges will help improve safety, support economic growth, and make people’s lives better in every part of the country – across rural, suburban, urban, and tribal communities.”

The NJTPA’s Long Range Transportation Plan, Plan 2050: Transportation. People. Opportunity., takes a “fix it first” approach, prioritizing funding to address the backlog of needed road and bridge improvements and preparing infrastructure for climate change impacts. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) owns 1,851 bridges in the NJTPA’s 13-county region, with 179 deemed in poor condition or structurally deficient, according to NJDOT Bridge Management System 2019 data. There are also 2,017 county-owned bridges in the NJTPA region with 138 deemed in poor condition or structurally deficient.

“This record amount of funding, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will allow states and Tribal governments to fix the bridges most in need of repair,” Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in a statement. “It will also modernize bridges to withstand the effects of climate change and to make them safer for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. Every state has bridges in poor condition and in need of repair, including bridges with weight restrictions that may force lengthy detours for travelers, school buses, first responders or trucks carrying freight.”

Passaic County Commissioner John W. Bartlett Elected Chair of North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority

Posted: 1/10/2022 12:00:00 PM

John W. BartlettPassaic County Commissioner John W. Bartlett was elected to a two-year term as Chair of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) at the January 10 Board of Trustees meeting. 

“I am honored that my fellow Board members have entrusted me to serve as chair of the NJTPA,” Commissioner Bartlett said. “This is a critical time for transportation in North Jersey with billions of dollars in new federal infrastructure money flowing to New Jersey. I look forward to working with the Board, our many partners and the NJTPA staff to ensure this funding addresses critical transportation needs, while also growing our economy and improving quality of life for our residents.” 

The NJTPA oversees regional transportation planning and annually authorizes more than $1 billion in federal surface transportation funding for 13 counties in northern and central New Jersey. 

Chairman Bartlett also recognized outgoing chair Kathryn DeFillippo, a Morris County commissioner. 

“Commissioner DeFillippo did an extraordinary job in incredible difficult circumstances,” Commissioner Bartlett said. “She kept things moving when it would have been easy for everything to grind to a halt, and she kept a camaraderie and positive attitude through a very grim time for many of us, and that was really something extraordinary.” 

Commissioner Bartlett joined the NJTPA Board in 2012 and became a member of the Executive Committee when he was elected Second Vice Chair in 2018. He served as First Vice Chair from 2020-2021, before being elected Chair. He has held several leadership positions at the NJTPA, including serving as Chair of the Project Prioritization Committee from 2020-2021. He previously served as Chair of the NJTPA’s Planning and Economic Development Committee and was Vice Chair of the Freight Initiatives Committee.   

Board of Trustees Committee


NJTPA Board of Trustees Executive Committee 

At the meeting, the NJTPA Board also selected four other members of its Executive Committee. In addition to Commissioner Bartlett, the elected members of the Executive Committee are Ocean County Commissioner John P. Kelly, First Vice Chair; Middlesex County Commissioner Charles Kenny, Second Vice Chair; and Union County Commissioner Bette Jane Kowalski, Secretary. In accordance with the bylaws, Chairman Bartlett appointed Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski to the position of Third Vice Chair

The Executive Committee provides guidance and leadership to the full Board on a wide range of planning, policy and administrative issues. It meets as needed to review financial, personnel and policy matters. Board membership is an uncompensated position. 

The NJTPA is the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for 13 northern New Jersey counties. Under federal legislation, MPOs provide a forum where local officials, public transportation providers and state agency representatives can come together and cooperatively plan to meet the region’s current and future transportation needs. It establishes the region’s eligibility to receive federal tax dollars for transportation projects. 

The NJTPA Board consists of one local elected official from each of the 13 counties in the region (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren), and the cities of Newark and Jersey City. The Board also includes a Governor’s Representative, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Executive Director of NJ TRANSIT, the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a Citizen’s Representative appointed by the Governor. 

Belleville, Perth Amboy selected for Together North Jersey Technical Assistance Program

Posted: 1/6/2022 10:10:15 AM

Cars parked along Washington Avenue in Belleville's commercial district.The Township of Belleville will develop a strategic marketing plan for its Washington Avenue Commercial District and the City of Perth Amboy will create a vision plan for Fink Park, an underutilized pocket park.

The two projects will receive free technical assistance thanks to grants from the Together North Jersey Vibrant Places Program. The program is a partnership between the NJTPA and the Vorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University. The NJTPA funds the competitive grant program. This year, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs will also be providing expertise and resources to the program through its Local Planning Services/Main Street New Jersey team.


A strategic marketing plan will be developed for the Washington Avenue Commercial District from Mill Street (near Branch Brook Park) to Joralemon Street. This will include developing marketing and outreach strategies, community engagement projects and place-making techniques that could be implemented to attract business activity and economic investment in the district.

A man walks by Fink Park, a small corner pocket park, in Perth Amboy.Perth Amboy

A vision plan will be created to reimaging Fink Park, a small park in the city’s Smith Street commercial district. This effort will include researching best practices, public and stakeholder engagement and a market analysis, which will be used to identify goals, opportunities and recommended design and programming for the park.

To learn more about the technical assistance program, visit TogetherNorthJersey.com.

NJTPA, Staff Planner Receive Planning Awards

Posted: 1/4/2022 9:33:51 AM

The New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association has honored the NJTPA and one of its planners with 2021 Planning Excellence Awards. The association announced the awards on December 28. 

The NJTPA received the Outstanding Community Engagement Award for NJTPA On Air, a multimedia competition that engaged children and teens in the recent Long Range Transportation Plan update. This was one of several innovative public engagement strategies the NJTPA developed with the Public Outreach Engagement Team at Rutgers University’s Voorhees Transportation Center. More than 150 children and teens shared their vision for the future of transportation in the NJTPA region. Entries included drawings, essays, videos, and animations. Their ideas were incorporated into Plan 2050: Transportation. People. Opportunity. All of the entries can be viewed here

In addition, Aimee Jefferson, a principal planner at the NJTPA, received the Emerging Planning Award. She is a member of the NJTPA’s Local Programs and Project Development team and focuses on safety programs. She works with the New Jersey Department of Transportation on its Road Safety Audit Program and is also the project manager for the NJTPA’s Online Interagency Project Management System, a central database of more than 350 projects.