The hits just keep on coming in NJDOT’s planned fiscal year 2012 capital plan. Along with the defunding of Transit Villages and Centers of Place, the state also plans to short the Safe Streets to Transit program, halving its funding to $500,000.
Safe Streets to Transit has been an important tool to fill in dangerous gaps in the pedestrian network and support walkable, transit oriented downtowns. The groundbreaking program (which has also been adopted in New York City) came out of a broader Pedestrian Safety Initiative launched by Gov. Corzine in 2006, after TSTC called attention to the difficulties the state was having in reducing pedestrian deaths. Safe Streets to Transit was to be funded a total of $5 million over 5 years — $1 million a year, including 2012.
In fiscal year 2011, that money allowed NJDOT to fund six of seventy-five grant applications — an acceptance rate of just 8% — for improvements including new sidewalks near light rail and bus stops in southern Jersey. Unfortunately, it looks like this obviously competitive grant program will have to deny even more applicants this year due to the slash in funding.
Just a few months ago, following the designation of Montclair as a Transit Village, Governor Christie said in a press release, “this type of development spurs sustainable economic growth, maximizes the value of our transit investments and benefits the environment.” Isn’t defunding smart growth initiatives sending the wrong message?