Camden Night Garden Demonstrates how Public Spaces Can Help Revitalize and Connect Neighborhoods

The Camden Night Garden transformed a vacant plot of land on the Delaware River into a festival of art, music, food and bicycling. | Photo: Courier-Post Online

Over 3,000 local residents and visitors came out to bike, dance, eat and celebrate at the Camden Night Garden on the Delaware River waterfront in Camden (NJ) last [...]

How Will Bicyclists and Pedestrians Be Accommodated on a Rebuilt NJ Route 35? Let Us Count the Ways

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Route 35 in Mantoloking will have bike lanes with a painted buffer (buffer width may vary depending on road width). | Image: Streetmix

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There were shoulders — not buffered bike lanes — in NJDOT’s original plan for Route 35 in Mantoloking. | Image: NJDOT

No, it wasn’t an April Fools’ prank. On April 1, the New Jersey Department of Transportation revealed revised plans for the $265 million, 12.5-mile Route 35 Reconstruction Project. The original reconstruction plan for the Hurricane Sandy-damaged Route 35, which was first announced in February 2013, was touted as a complete streets project, but it provided little in the way of bike accommodations other than paved shoulders in some segments of the right of way.

The updated plan includes 10 miles of bike accommodations — mostly dedicated bike lanes, with shared lane markings or “sharrows” in some locations. The change comes after a year of advocacy by Tri-State, along with the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition, to assure that this project serves as an example for New Jersey and rest of the nation of how complete streets can be implemented.

The project, which extends through eight municipalities, has been divided into three sections:

Mileposts 0-4 (Berkeley, Seaside Park, Seaside Heights and Toms River)

Route 35 North, from the entrance to Island Beach State Park in Berkeley through 6th Avenue in Toms River, will have a continuous bike lane of either four feet or five feet in width for all but 11 blocks. These 11 blocks will include sharrows.

On Route 35 South, from 6th Avenue in Toms River to Grant Avenue in Seaside Heights, bicyclists will have a four-foot dedicated lane, however, between Grant and Lincoln Avenues, cyclists will have shared road infrastructure. From Lincoln Avenue, southbound cyclists would be diverted one block east to Boulevard, which has no bicycle accommodations, and then rejoin Route 35 south of K Street, where there will be a four-foot-wide bike lane all the way until the entrance to Island Beach State Park in Berkeley.

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Why the NYC Region’s Density and Connectivity Translate to a Higher Quality of Life

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Though we often hear city residents complain of crowded commutes, crowded classrooms and crowded rental markets, there is a growing body of research to support the notion that higher density actually contributes to a higher quality of life.

Measuring Sprawl 2014 is Smart Growth America’s follow-up to the organization’s own 2002 landmark study on sprawl, and updates their research by evaluating the development patterns of 221 US metro areas. The report identifies the country’s least and most sprawling areas, and incorporates research that illustrates the relationship between sprawl and quality of life. According to the study, “metro areas with more compact, connected neighborhoods are associated with better overall economic, health and safety outcomes—on average a better quality of life for everyone in that community.”

Sprawl Index Score was assigned to each metro area based on development density, land use mix, activity centering and street connectivity. The average score for the 221 areas is 100, with areas ranking above 100 being more dense and connected. The New York City metropolitan area ranked number 1 with a Sprawl Index Score of 203, and the Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey metro areas also fell within the top 10. Connecticut’s biggest metro areas, however, ranked much lower, with scores between 115 and 120.

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Advocates Applaud Updates to NJ Route 35 Reconstruction Plan

Statement of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia on the updated Route 35 Reconstruction Plan, unveiled on Tuesday. 

For immediate release – April 1, 2014

Contact: Janna Chernetz, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, 908-208-0083 Cyndi Steiner, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, 973-886-4142 John Boyle, Bicycle Coalition [...]

What the Port Authority Capital Program is Missing

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Instead of investing in trans-Hudson bus infrastructure, the Port Authority is prioritizing a PATH extension to Newark Liberty International Airport. | Photo: NY Daily News

Citing decreased revenue, five years ago the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey “postponed” a bus garage from its 2007-2016 capital plan period to the next capital program. In transportation parlance, “postponed” is often a euphemism for “not likely to ever happen,” a message delivered again by the PANYNJ in its most recently approved 2014-2023 capital program. The omission was scantly observed except by those paying close attention to the lack of bus parking in and around the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.

The postponed West Side bus garage, once estimated at $1 billion, would provide indoor parking for hundreds of NJ Transit and private buses, sparing dozens of communities on Manhattan’s West Side from the dominating presence of buses on their residential streets. The projected cost is a seemingly massive impediment to the project — that is until you compare it with other projects with a similar price tag that deliver fewer immediate direct transit benefits. One such project is the PATH extension from Newark Penn Station to Newark Liberty International Airport.

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USDOT: Highway Trust Fund Shortfall Anticipated for Late July

It seems likely the Highway Trust Fund’s Highway Account will run out of money in late July, According to the US Department of Transportation. | Image: USDOT

It seems likely the Highway Trust Fund’s Highway Account will run out of money in late July, According to the US Department of Transportation. | Image: USDOT

It’s not only states that are running out of money to fund transportation projects; the federal government is too.

According to the US Department of Transportation’s Highway Trust Fund Ticker, updated last Sunday, it is likely that the Highway Trust Fund’s Highway Account will run out of money in late July, just over a month before federal fiscal year 2014 ends. The Highway Trust Fund “is the principal mechanism for funding federal highway and transit programs” through revenue generated by user fees like the federal gas tax. The Highway Account is projected to end the fiscal year in September 2014 $700 million in the hole. Politico notes that the newly-updated Tracker shows a shortfall “two weeks earlier than last month’s figures, which showed the anticipated red ink in the second or third week of August.”

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States Spend on Expansion While Roads Decay

According to Repair Priorities 2014, most state DOTs “are spending more money building new roads than maintaining the ones they have.” | Image: Smart Growth America

With people driving less and federal largesse not what it used to be, it would make sense for state departments of transportation to shift away from building [...]

An Increased Gas Tax Will Help NJ Drivers Save Money

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The more NJ drivers know about the state’s gas tax, the more likely they are to support a gas tax increase. | Photo: Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger

Rutgers University’s Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling recently released the results of a poll regarding public support for an increase in New Jersey’s gas tax. The results are hardly shocking: nearly two-thirds of adult voters in New Jersey oppose any hike, while roughly one third supports paying more. It’s not surprising that people are reluctant to pay more for something willingly.

But what was surprising was that once people learned New Jersey’s most recent gas tax increase was 26 years ago, and that at 14.5 cents per gallon it’s the third-lowest gas tax in the nation, they were more likely to favor higher gas taxes. In other words, the more people know about New Jersey’s gas tax, the more they are inclined to support an increase.

This made us wonder if and how respondents’ answers might change if they knew even more about the desperate state of transportation funding in New Jersey. Currently, 100 percent of the dedicated revenue generated by the gas tax is going toward paying off debt, and not toward funding transportation projects. Over 11 million motorists drive over a structurally deficient bridge in New Jersey every day, and more than 40 percent of NJDOT pavement was not in acceptable condition as of last year. (Given the beating roads have taken this year, that number may have grown.)

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Get Ready, Garden State: Funding for Pedestrian and Bicycle Projects is Coming!

TIGER, SRTS, TE and TAP funds present opportunities for New Jersey to address pedestrian and bicyclist safety on its most dangerous roads, like Black Horse Pike, shown here. | Photo: Danny Drake/Press of Atlantic City

TIGER, SRTS, TE and TAP funds present opportunities for New Jersey to address pedestrian and bicyclist safety on its most dangerous roads, like Black Horse Pike, shown here. | Photo: Danny Drake/Press of Atlantic City

UPDATE: Both the Safe Routes to School and TE/TAP application deadlines have been extended to June 30, 2014.

Funding opportunities to build sidewalks, bike lanes, multi-use trails and other pedestrian and bicyclist-focused accommodations are coming to New Jersey through the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) and Transportation Enhancements (TE)/Transportation Alternatives (TAP) programs. This funding comes in addition to the most recent grant round for federal funding through the TIGER program that has recently become available to local entities throughout the country.

Applications for TIGER grants are due on April 28, 2014, and the SRTS, TE and TAP grant rounds begin this week. Although it is behind all of its neighbor states – New YorkPennsylvania and Delaware – who have already begun to solicit TAP grant applications, New Jersey will have some real opportunities to improve its most dangerous roads and expand Circuit trails once this funding is made available. Counties and municipalities need to start preparing applications for these programs now, as demand for funding is expected to be high.

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Mapping New York Pedestrian Fatalities and the Legislative Districts Where They Occur

Between 2010 and 2012, more than 900 pedestrians were killed on roads in New York State. To highlight how broad-based these fatalities are, Tri-State released an online map that shows the locations of New York* pedestrian fatalities with clickable layers that display boundaries for counties, congressional districts and state legislative districts. Viewers can turn these administrative boundary [...]