NJTPA Congestion Management Process
The NJTPA uses a federally mandated Congestion Management Process (CMP) to systematically investigate the region’s complex travel patterns and search for suitable approaches for improving the transportation system's performance in terms of accessibility, reliability and congestion. The CMP addresses not only the roadway system, but also rail and bus transit, ridesharing, walking and bicycling, and freight transportation. The CMP points to mobility strategies that complement roadway investments to minimize the need for capacity expansions, realize greater system efficiency and protect the environment.
“Accessibility” is a key concept assessed by the CMP. When transportation works well, it puts travelers’ desired destinations within reasonable reach—making them accessible. Accessibility is also fundamentally tied to where people live, work, shop, and play in the region; specifically, having good accessibility depends on how far destinations are from one another and whether households and businesses are located where the transportation system can serve them best.
However, congestion, crowding, and unexpected incidents can hinder the region’s accessibility, as can inefficient roads or transit connections, missing links such as sidewalks, or unavailable information on travel options. The cost of congestion can be measured in dollars, time, and its impact on quality of life.
Many of the region’s interstates highways and state and county arterial roadways are subject to recurring high congestion levels. Large numbers of travelers daily face recurring morning and afternoon/evening peak congestion due to capacity issues on major corridors leading to bridge and tunnel crossings into New York City.
Most of these high capacity routes traverse the region’s most densely populated areas, where increasing capacity may be neither locally desirable nor cost-effective. Although routine congestion on these routes presents challenges to the reliability of travel, it is largely an expected occurrence that businesses and individuals attempt to factor into their travel and location decisions.
The Congestion Management Process continues planning work conducted in the prior NJTPA Strategy Evaluation and Strategy Refinement studies while serving federal requirements for MPOs in addressing multi-modal access and mobility issues in the region relating to the movement of persons and goods.
Since these issues deal with the fundamental nature and capacity of the transportation system, the process considers the connections with related travel markets, development, land use and environmental concerns. Many of these connections are being investigated as part of the ongoing Together North Jersey Regional Plan for Sustainable Development effort.
The CMP analysis pays particular recognition to various “place types” around the region—areas that share similar characteristics in terms of land use, population density, employment, the nature of economic activities, street patterns, and other traits. Strategy Evaluation identified ten place types, each with specific standards for transportation needs. For instance, levels of congestion that indicate a need are lower in the “rural town” or “suburb” place types than in the “urban center” place type where a greater level of congestion is often expected and tolerated.