While New Jersey DOT’s planned FY2010 Capital Program devotes more money towards road widening projects than in the past, it also provides almost 50% more funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects than last year’s capital program did. These types of projects now represent about 2% of the total highway program, up from 1.5% last year.
This is obviously tremendous news for New Jersey’s cycling community, and especially timely given recent surges in bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities. NJDOT deserves credit for making bicycling and walking a funding priority. About 12% of all trips in the state were on foot or bicycle in 2001, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
That said, the sources of bicycle and pedestrian funding in the 2010 plan raise some questions about whether this will be a sustained effort. More than 41% of the $44 million in funding comes from federal earmarks. Another 8% comes from one-shot stimulus funding. Meanwhile, state funding comprises only 13.6% of total bicycle and pedestrian funding.
One bit of evidence that the state is starting to explore more avenues for bicycle and pedestrian funding is a small sidewalk replacement project in Atlantic County funded out of the federal government’s National Highway System program. This is the kind of innovative thinking that will be needed if the steady stream of earmarks for walking and cycling projects dries up.
Image: Google Street View of Scotch Plains, NJ.