What You Missed at America Answers: Fix My Commute

The Washington Post today launched America Answers, a new live event series which brings together a variety of innovators to discuss major national issues. The first in the series, “Fix My Commute,” focused on transportation issues. There were a wide range of topics discussed, from bike lanes and ride-sharing to high speed rail and flying cars. Mobilizing the Region wasn’t able to attend in person, but we were able to watch live online and follow along on Twitter. If you weren’t able to tune in, here’s some of what you missed:

Flying cars

 

Bike lanes

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With Investments in Traffic Calming and Street Redesigns, Bridgeport’s Safety Campaign Shows Promise

Enforcement is a key tool in boosting safety, but should be combined with physical street improvements to have a lasting impact. | Photo: Brian A. Pounds/ CTPost.com

Enforcement is crucial for boosting safety, but should be combined with traffic calming to have a lasting impact. | Photo: Brian A. Pounds/ Connecticut Post

Bridgeport will make infrastructure changes, including curb extensions. | Image: NACTO

Bridgeport officials are considering infrastructure changes, such as roundabouts and curb extensions, like the one seen here. | Image: NACTO

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch announced this week that the city is launching a comprehensive safe streets initiative. Seven pedestrians have been killed by drivers in Bridgeport since 2010. Bridgeport is the second Connecticut city to announce a street safety campaign in as many months. In September, Stamford Mayor David Martin unveiled the Stamford Street Smart campaign.

At first blush, the two efforts appear to have a lot in common. Mayor Finch — who participated in a walking audit with Tri-State in 2013 — described Bridgeport’s campaign as a “multipronged approach” focused on education, enforcement and investment, while Mayor Martin called Stamford Street Smart a “multi-faceted approach” that focuses on education, enforcement and engineering. Both campaigns began with crackdowns on distracted driving, and both include efforts to curb so-called “jaywalking.”

Both Bridgeport and Stamford also plan to address the physical condition of their streets, but how they’ll go about doing so is where there’s a more distinct difference between the two initiatives.

The engineering component of Stamford Street Smart is somewhat limited. Making sure signs are visible at intersections, re-painting crosswalks and synchronizing traffic signals are certainly good ideas, but not something to brag about. In other cities, these measures would be considered part of regular maintenance.

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Gov. Christie Says “Everything Is on the Table,” But NJ’s Transportation Trust Fund Is Still Starving

New Jersey Chris Christie | Photo: AWR Hawkins, Brietbart

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie | Photo: AWR Hawkins, Brietbart

Everything is on the table” is what Governor Christie has repeatedly said about his plan to secure funding for New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) after his current five-year plan failed pretty much right out of the gate. But what exactly has the legislature put on the table so far? Here is a list of the current bills in Trenton:

A1558 (DeCroce): Authorizes development of public-private partnership transportation demonstration projects.
It would permit the New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner to select transportation projects as “demonstration projects” using public-private partnership agreements. Public-private partnerships (P3’s) are generally used to help finance large-scale projects to free up money for other projects.  Pennsylvania is looking to P3’s as part of a larger transportation funding strategy to help reduce the number of its structurally deficient bridges.

A1865 (Lesniak): Increases the motor fuels tax by five cents per year for three years for a total increase of 15 cents.
Currently, the gas tax brings in $520 million to the TTF and the total debt service for FY 2105 was approximately $1.2 billion. This increase would generate approximately $750 million. Citing the NJDOT’s 2013-2022 Statewide Capital Investment Strategy, Assemblyman Rumana recently stated that even an effort to triple the state’s already low gas tax would fall short of the state’s needs.

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Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch | Photo: bridgeportct.gov

Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch | Photo: bridgeportct.gov

A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.

WINNERS

Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch – The mayor unveiled a comprehensive safe streets campaign in the city which include short and long-term infrastructure improvements and increased enforcement.

NYPD 78th Precinct – The Park Slope precinct replaced a parking spot in front of the building’s entrance with a bike corral.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams – After seven years with Tri-State, our Associate Director Ryan Lynch will now serve as Policy Director to Borough President Adams.

New York City Department of City Planning – After three years with Tri-State, our Staff Analyst Kathi Ko will now serve as a planner for the Queens Department of Planning.

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Save the Dates: Shaping Our Region’s Future

RPA CT ForumsRegional Plan Association is in the process of developing its Fourth Regional Plan, which is a “multiyear initiative to create a blueprint for our region’s growth, sustainability, good governance and economic opportunity for the next 25 years.” As part of this process, RPA has partnered with Partnership for Strong Communities, Siemens and the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association to host two Connecticut forums to solicit input for the Fourth Regional Plan.

These forums, led by a panel of Connecticut experts and specialists, hope to spur a comprehensive discussion of issues impacting economic, environmental and community development across the tri-state region, including transportation, housing, climate change and land use. In order to make the forums accessible and convenient for those who wish to attend, there are two forums held in two locations on two separate dates:

Wednesday, October 29
The Lyceum, Hartford, CT
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 20
Pequot Library, Southport, CT
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Because of capacity constraints at each location, we recommend that you register early for the event you would like to attend.

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MTA’s Capital Plan: A (Partial) Eye Towards Long Island Railroad’s Future

LIRR MTA CPWith 83 million passengers a year, the Long Island Rail Road is the busiest commuter railroad in the nation and the economic engine for Long Island. It is also the nation’s oldest commuter rail system, and as such, the MTA’s proposed 2015-2019 Capital Program allocates nearly 10 percent of total expenditures to the system with a focus on better maintenance of core infrastructure to create a more resilient system

More than 60 percent of the proposed LIRR allocation will go to maintaining the basics—rolling stock, stations, track, communications/signals, power, shops and yards, bridges and viaducts—but the plan also targets service improvements that will get the system ready for its new access point in Manhattan: Grand Central Terminal.

At the moment, Penn Station is the only Manhattan stop for LIRR, and the station is at capacity during crucial points of the day. The completion of East Side Access will provide a much-needed second access point into Grand Central Terminal, enabling increased service opportunities and system redundancy. To get ready for that future day, the Capital Program proposes expanding capacity at Jamaica, a critical transfer station, and adding train storage and track capacity at key locations.

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Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.

Hoboken, NJ Mayor Dawn Zimmer | Photo: http://www.dawnzimmer.com/

Hoboken, NJ Mayor Dawn Zimmer | Photo: dawnzimmer.com

WINNERS

New York City Council – The Council passed two important bills yesterday: one instituting a commuter tax benefit and another setting the city’s default speed limit to 25 mph.

The Business Council of Fairfield County vice president of public policy and programs Joseph J. McGee – McGee pulled together five mayors from Fairfield County, CT and Westchester County, NY to discuss how improving their transportation systems is vital to their cities’ growth.

Hoboken, NJ Mayor Dawn Zimmer – The mayor’s big thinking includes Complete Streets redesigns of Washington Street and Sinatra Drive and a joint-city bike share program with Weehawken.

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TSTC Releases Second Annual LIRR “Laggy” Analysis

Overcrowding MTA Flickr

Fast-tracking projects such as the Double Track and and re-booting the Third Track project will reduce congestion, delays and overcrowding, and boost the region’s economy. Photo: MTA Flickr

Tri-State Transportation Campaign released its second annual Laggy Analysis, which ranks the 11 branches of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) according to the greatest lost economic productivity, delay per rider and total lost time.

Tri-State’s analysis found that late, cancelled and terminated LIRR trains led to $68,545,440 in lost economic productivity from July 2013 through June 2014 . For the second consecutive year, the Babylon branch contributed the most to lost productivity and lost time due to delays. The Port Jefferson branch had the greatest levels of delay per rider at 22.3 lost hours annually.

The LIRR is an economic lifeline for Nassau and Suffolk County’s economies. Nearly 300,000 riders rely on the LIRR to travel between Long island and New York City for work, and the system contributes up to $50 million daily into the region’s economy. Delays on key LIRR branches held the railroad back from contributing even more to the region, with overall increases in lost economic cost, hours lost and delay per rider compared to last year’s analysis.

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TSTC Analysis: Speed Kills Near Nassau County Schools

nassau school zone

Newsday‘s Editorial Board said of the speed camera controversy in Nassau County: “No one reported an epidemic of serious accidents in school zones recently.”

However, a TSTC analysis reveals that there is in fact a high risk of being struck by a vehicle within a quarter mile of a school Nassau County. In 2012 alone, among the 37 pedestrians killed on Nassau County’s streets, 14 were hit within a quarter of a mile of school, accounting for nearly 40 percent of total pedestrian fatalities countywide. Though not everyone killed in these areas were school-age children, such a high probability of pedestrian deaths occurring near schools should raise concerns about potential traffic dangers for children, and call for more dedicated measures to enhance pedestrian safety.

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Hoboken and Weehawken Seeking Bike Share Input

Bike-Share-locations-mapHelp improve bike access and mobility in Hoboken and Weehawken! Where would you like to see a bike share station: near your favorite restaurant, at a movie theater, in the park, in front of your office building?

As the cities prepare to launch the first phase of a 300-bicycle joint bike share program this fall, the public has a key opportunity to identify where they’d like bike share stations to be located. Suggestions can be input directly into this map.

By adding bike share, Hoboken and Weehawken are taking the next step to increase transportation choices for residents, making it easier to access the PATH, ferries and buses, and to more easily travel between and within the two cities. Hoboken and Weehawken will join only a handful of New Jersey communities that currently offer bike share: Collingswood, Camden County, and Rutgers New Brunswick.

The deadline for feedback is Wednesday October 8.

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