New Jerseyans support smart growth, a statewide planning strategy, expanding transit, and maintaining existing roads, according to a new poll released today by the Monmouth University Polling Institute. The poll was commissioned by Tri-State Transportation Campaign, New Jersey Future, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and Smart Growth America.
“This new data further supports our stand that investing in public transportation and road and bridge repairs will prevent suburban sprawl and enhance our sustainability,” TSTC Executive Director Kate Slevin said in a release. “It also has an added benefit of offering some economic relief throughout the state.”
Residents believe road and bridge repair and expansion of public transportation are high priorities. Seventy-five percent rate the maintenance and repair of existing roads and highways as a high priority, and 54 percent give the same rating to expanding and improving train and bus services. Only 36 percent see building new roads as a high priority.
52 percent of residents agree with the statement that now is the time for state government to invest in transportation to create jobs and attract new business.
Smart Growth/State Planning
69 percent of New Jerseyans are in support of a coordinated, statewide plan for existing population centers in order to preserve farming communities and open spaces. These findings are nearly identical to a poll conducted in 2002.
Of those who knew about the Pinelands and Highlands regional planning initiatives, which restrict development in critical watersheds, two-thirds support them. Fifty-nine percent of residents believe it is very important to protect areas like the Pinelands and Highlands.
Other key findings of the survey include that residents are as concerned about protecting drinking water as they are about the economy. Ninety-one percent of residents say protecting the state’s drinking water is “very important,” compared to 88% who say attracting new business is a top concern.
Interestingly, there has been little change in NJ residents’ strong support for open space protection and reducing traffic congestion over the last 11 years, even as other priorities have changed with the economic crisis. For example, residents are more concerned about attracting new business and less concerned with slowing the pace of development than they were in a 2000 poll.
“Compared to a decade ago, New Jerseyans’ priorities on growth issues have not changed much, despite the impact of a declining economy,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “One of the most interesting aspects of these results is the widespread bipartisan agreement on most issues, including protecting our water, reducing property taxes, maintaining our transportation system and roads and protecting open space, such as the Pinelands and Highlands.”
The poll of 804 residents was conducted from August 18-24 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent. It was funded by the William Penn Foundation.
Graphic: Monmouth University Polling Institute.