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Essex County Transportation Plan Sets Priorities

A new transportation plan for Essex County recommends a variety of policies, strategies, and studies as diverse as the county itself, such as, updating Complete Streets policies and plans; conducting corridor studies and traffic studies; and implementing Roadway Safety Audit and School Travel Plan improvements, among others.

Essex 2045, funded through the NJTPA’s Subregional Studies Program, updates the county’s previous Comprehensive Transportation Plan, completed in 2013. The effort included extensive community outreach and technical analysis to develop a plan for future infrastructure investments. “Essex 2045 seeks to balance the often conflicting needs of safety, equity, mobility, traffic congestion, commerce, job creation, and sustainability to achieve equitable outcomes and access to opportunity though a comprehensive program of strategies, plans, and projects,” the plan explains.

The plan forecasts future needs, including an estimated 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the county by 2045. That's 100 times more than the 250 existing ports.

Several recommendations relate directly to Complete Streets and Vision Zero, such as:
  • Updating the county’s Complete Streets Policy and getting all 21 municipalities to adopt it;
  • Adopting the Safe System Approach - which aims to build layers of protection to prevent crashes in the first place and minimize harm when they occur - as the guiding framework for transportation planning and infrastructure design;
  • Initiating a Vision Zero Action Plan for the county or targeted municipalities with “significant equity concerns and disproportionate safety risks.”
More than 1,000 people provided feedback through public engagement efforts. Comments covered a variety of topics, including the safety and adequacy of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and the need for expanded intracounty transit service — especially in underserved communities.

The plan also prioritizes the Essex-Hudson Greenway, a 9-mile connector between Jersey City and Montclair; the Morris Canal Greenway, a multiuser trail spanning six counties, including Essex; and, the Newark Industrial Track corridor for potential bus rapid transit or light rail between Paterson and Newark, which was the focus of a previous subregional study in 2020. “Developing a new Paterson-Newark rail alignment is responsive to the many comments received during the Essex 2045 community engagement effort expressing a strong interest in the expansion of intra-county public transit service,” Essex 2045 notes.

A scenario planning process examined how travel conditions and congestion might change over time as the population grows and new jobs are created. Three scenarios — existing year 2022, future baseline 2045, and future aspirational 2045 — were tested for Essex 2045, which found that an alternative mix of projects has the potential to achieve the “aspirational” goals, including improved safety, accessibility, and equity, expansion of intra-county transit and travel mode options, congestion relief, and mitigating truck impacts.

The plan recommends additional countywide studies of bicycle, pedestrian and micromobility; freight and goods movement; and roadway drainage and flooding.

The final report is available here.
Posted: 9/26/2023 12:34:11 PM by Mark Hrywna | with 0 comments