NJTPA Update Blog

January 2024

Study Search Tool Aids Transportation and Project Planning

Posted: 1/16/2024 3:11:12 PM

The NJTPA has released an update of PRIME, its searchable online library of planning studies and their findings and recommendations. The tool is available for use by the NJTPA’s county and city member agencies and by other partner agencies.

The system provides a means for planners and engineers embarking on studies of transportation issues or project needs to identify previous work within their study area or topic. This includes data and findings related to specific mobility, safety, reliability, sustainability, equity and other issues. 

Access to the searchable library will streamline the study process, ensure a more complete understanding of local and regional needs and help create better projects targeting those needs.

The updated PRIME system includes simplified data entry, streamlined user and administration interfaces, more powerful search and reporting features, and an updated programming platform to provide improved system performance.

The NJTPA is working with its partners and member agencies to enter additional regional and sub-regional studies into the system. The NJTPA plans to form an expert user group, prioritize studies for adding to the system, and provide ongoing training and support.

For more information contact Jeffrey Vernick at [email protected]  or go to the NJTPA website PRIME.

State Development Plan being updated with extensive public outreach

Posted: 1/10/2024 2:21:12 PM

The State Development and Redevelopment Plan, a framework to guide future land use development and conservation, will get its first update in a generation, with public outreach efforts already underway.

Donna Rendeiro, executive director of the New Jersey Office of Planning, provided an update on the state plan to the NJTPA Board of Trustees during a presentation at its January 8 reorganization meeting.

She said the State Planning Commission seeks to balance the often competing goals of other state agencies, such as, the Economic Development Authority, Department of Environmental Protection, and Department of Transportation.

The plan, last updated in 2001, will add two goals focused on equity and climate change, for a total of 10. Rendeiro said they have an aggressive goal to complete the plan by the end of this year with implementation slated for 2025.

Donna Rendeiro at the podium during a presentation to the NJTPA Board of Trustees“Our initial indication is that most of the building permits have been issued in areas where the state plan encourages growth and most conservation has been happening where the state plan envisions conservation,” Rendeiro said. “It’s not perfect, it’s not 100 percent, but we do think that the plan is making a difference.”

Critical to the process of updating the plan is stakeholder engagement, according to Rendeiro, with rules requiring 27 public meetings. Once a preliminary plan is issued, hearings in each of the state’s 21 counties are required over 45 days. A final draft plan, after a cross acceptance phase that includes negotiations, requires six more public hearings. The state's engagement hub for outreach is available at publicinput.com/njstateplan.

Rendeiro said the Office of Planning already held eight stakeholder sessions last year, engaging services of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association to assist with community outreach.

Map of New Jersey with state development and redevelopment plan iconsCounties play an integral role as the State Planning Act anticipates the counties negotiating on behalf of municipalities. “We want to work very, very closely with our county partners and our regional partners,” Rendeiro said, having already met with 18 counties both formally and informally.

“We can’t force municipalities to comply with the goals of the state plan, nor can we force counties or state agencies,” Rendeiro said. Instead, they aim to collaborate and provide guidance.

A video recording of the presentation is available here.

Photo By Ed Murray

Board Recognizes Outgoing Chair

Posted: 1/9/2024 8:10:59 AM

The NJTPA Board of Trustees honored outgoing Chair John W. Bartlett, a Passaic County Commissioner who led the Board for two years, during its January 8 reorganization meeting. Commissioner Bartlett joined the Board in 2012 and had served on the Executive Committee since 2018.

“We thank you for your dedicated service to the people of our region and for your tireless advocacy for the importance of transportation,” said Ocean County Commissioner John P. Kelly, who was elected chair at the meeting, as he presented Bartlett with a plaque.

Bartlett will continue to represent Passaic County on the 20-member Board. During his tenure as Chair, the Board achieved many things, including: completion of the region’s first-ever active transportation plan, adoption of a new $14 billion Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) – the largest ever, and the doubling of funds for the NJTPA’s Local Safety Program.

Locally in Passaic County, Chair Bartlett was instrumental in working to secure $15 million in federal funding for the Main Avenue Bus Terminal in Passaic and the launch of Passaic County Strategic Infrastructure Investment Study, which recently got underway.

NJTPA Chair-Elect John Kelly and Executive Director David Behrend present plaque to Outgoing Chair John Bartlett"I think for me, what’s been the most personally rewarding is watching all the ways in which ‘TPA staff support our local partners, support the counties that are part of ‘TPA,” Bartlett said. “So much of what has grown and thrived at ‘TPA over these last couple years has been that local aid and the technical support so that towns that may not have contemplated filing an application now can access some of the federal funding that enables them to do projects that are hyperlocal and super important.”

He noted that while the Board is comprised of elected officials from both political parties, it has always operated in a non-partisan fashion, which has allowed it to accomplish so much.

“We work together with the interest of the region in mind, and we support one another when it comes to those local projects that each of us want that each of us wants to show our own constituents,” Bartlett said. "The fact that this collective from Ocean County to the New York border is working together to make that happen for all of us, really, I think it’s an example for how to govern."

Ocean County Commissioner John P. Kelly Elected Chair of NJTPA

Posted: 1/8/2024 11:50:37 AM

Ocean County Commissioner John P. Kelly was elected to a two-year term as Chair of the NJTPA at the January 8 meeting.

NJTPA Chair John P. Kelly, center, speaks at the January 8 Board meeting as Commissioners John Bartlett, left, and Charles Kenny, right, look on.“I am honored that my fellow Board members have entrusted me to serve as chair of the NJTPA,” Commissioner Kelly said. “This is an exciting time for transportation in our region, as billions in federal infrastructure funding flows to our region. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Board, our many partners and the NJTPA staff to improve transportation for our region’s 7 million residents, including all those who call Ocean County home.”

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 Kelly also recognized outgoing chair John W. Bartlett, a Passaic County commissioner.

“Commissioner Bartlett did a great job leading this board,” Commissioner Kelly said. “He was focused on securing and maintaining federal funding, and under his leadership the Board adopted a $14 billion Transportation Improvement Program — our largest yet. I thank him for his leadership and look forward to continuing our work together.”

Commissioner Kelly has been in office since 1993 and joined the NJTPA Board of Trustees in 2016. He was elected First Vice Chair in 2022 and served a term as Second Vice Chair prior to that. He has chaired both the Project Prioritization and Planning & Economic development committees and has served as vice chair of the Freight Initiatives Committee during his tenure.

He serves as chair of the Ocean County Office of Engineering, working closely with staff annually overseeing more than $40 million in infrastructure improvements focused on road safety. He is also the liaison to the Ocean County Road and Bridge departments, overseeing the maintenance of more than 1,600 county lane miles and almost 260 bridges and culverts. He is a resident of Eaglewood Township.

There are several NJTPA-funded initiatives underway in Ocean County, including a study exploring ways to mitigate congestion on Kennedy Boulevard and County Line Road in Lakewood. The NJTPA also recently provided the county with a nearly $1.6 million grant to improve safety and overall operations at Hooper Avenue and Church Road/Kettle Creek Road in Toms River.

NJTPA Board of Trustees Executive Committee

The NJTPA Executive Committee for 2024-2025At the meeting, the NJTPA Board also selected four other members of its Executive Committee. In addition to Commissioner Kelly, the elected members of the Executive Committee are: Middlesex County Commissioner Charles Kenny, First Vice Chair; Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski, Second Vice Chair; and Morris County Commissioner Stephen H. Shaw, Secretary. In accordance with the bylaws, Chairman Kelly appointed Union County Commissioner Bette Jane Kowalski 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 President and CEO of NJ TRANSIT, the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a Citizen’s Representative appointed by the Governor.

Photos by Ed Murray

Bi-state Metro Region Crafts Climate Pollution Reduction Plan

Posted: 1/3/2024 3:38:30 PM

map of the regionThe NJTPA is working with New York City and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council to prepare plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and other harmful air pollution in the New York-Newark-Jersey City NY-NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). This effort is being funded with a Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which was awarded in October. It draws on funds authorized in the Inflation Reduction Act. A project website provides information and offers opportunities to get involved.

An important next step of the CPRG project is to develop a Priority Climate Action Plan, which is due in March. The plan will include a GHG Inventory, GHG Emissions Projections, Quantified GHG Reduction Measures, Low-income and Disadvantaged Communities Benefits Analysis, and Review of Authority to Implement. The plan will give the bi-state region access to $4.3 billion set aside nationally for climate emission reduction measures.

The project team has been meeting weekly since August. The NJTPA assisted in preparing the grant application, work plan and other materials. Additionally, the NJTPA has been working closely with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to coordinate state and MSA planning efforts. This has included attending NJDEP’s monthly meetings for interstate/interagency coordination and participating in several stakeholder outreach events. NJTPA is also consulting with its member subregions on the plan.

To get involved or share ideas, please contact Zenon Tech-Czarny, Principal Planner, Environmental Planning.