While the NJ Turnpike Authority pushes forward with misguided plans to widen the Garden State Parkway and NJ Turnpike (see MTR #s 553, 552, 546, and others), NJDOT continues to set the bar for smart planning in the tri-state area.
Oct. 5 marked the completion of Washington Borough’s Route 57 streetscape. This hallmark NJDOT project includes the installation of sidewalks, trees, ornamental trash receptacles, a mid-block crosswalk, bike racks, benches, and other improvements that not only add to the aesthetics of the downtown, but also ensure the safety of the many children who cross Rt. 57 on their daily walk to school. The Conceptual Corridor Plan initiating the improvements sets forth detailed and progressive design options that should be replicated statewide (MTR #s 543, 526). NJDOT deserves acknowledgement for the clarity and scope with which the Rt. 57 plan was developed and implemented.
The Route 57 plan is part of the NJFIT program which coordinates land use and transportation, a connection that is still largely unattainable for other transportation agencies in the region.
NJDOT has also continued to improve its commitment to pedestrian safety. In 2006, Governor Corzine launched a five-year, $74 million statewide pedestrian safety initiative, which included additional money for traffic calming infrastructure, “traffic-stat” technology, and increased inter-agency coordination. (see MTR #539)
Included in Corzine’s pedestrian safety initiative was a $15 million contribution to the state’s Safe Routes to School program. This year NJDOT awarded $4.15 million in Safe Routes to School grants, including a $250,000 grant to Roselle that will go towards new sidewalks and crosswalks, as well as safety education and awareness efforts. Roselle lies on the Rt. 27 corridor, which has seen horrific collisions involving pedestrians (MTR # 556).
Similarly, Corzine’s initiative included $5 million over five years for a new Safe Streets to Transit program, which announced its first-ever grant this year, a $280,000 to Union County for shuttle service across a busy highway. The Safe Streets to Transit Program funds pedestrian safety improvements including infrastructure, education, outreach and planning guidance in areas surrounding transit facilities. MTR supports the Union County shuttle, but also hope future dollars will improve walking and biking conditions to and from transit centers.
NJDOT has made great strides toward reducing the transportation system’s environmental impacts on the state of NJ. MTR hopes that the agency’s progressive spirit will spread to one of its sister agencies, the NJ Turnpike Authority.