“Not a Crisis,” You Say?

Photo: Mel Evans/AP

Source: Mel Evans/AP

Anyone trying to make sense of all of the bad news for New Jersey transportation this weekthe lack of transportation talk in Governor Christie’s FY2016 budget address, the 8.4 percent cut to the transportation budget, more debt to fund transportation, the threat of the first NJ Transit fare hike in yearsnow has their answer.

Last night, Governor Christie said of the soon-to-be-insolvent Transportation Trust Fund, “I’m hopeful that the Senate president and the [state Assembly] Speaker and I will be able to come to a resolution sooner rather than later, but, you know, again, it’s not a crisis at the moment, because we’re funded pretty well now.”

Let’s be honest here. This is a legitimate crisis; New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is set to run completely dry on July 1, 2015, which has disastrous implications for the state, given that:

  • one in three New Jersey bridges is structurally deficient or functionally obsolete
  • the poor condition of New Jersey roads costs drivers nearly $2,000 a year
  • New Jersey’s rate of pedestrian injuries and fatalities is more than double the national average
  • expansion of mass transit is at a standstill due to lack of funding

And yet, Governor Christie’s now proposing to cut the transportation budget by 8.4 percentabout $119 million less funding than the current fiscal year. Given the state’s needs, if anything, the budget ought to be increased.

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Don’t Miss the Chance to Learn More about the PANYNJ’s Cross-Harbor Freight Alternatives

The one upside to the severe weather of the past few weeks is that there are still three more opportunities to voice your thoughts about the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s Cross Harbor Freight Program. There are two more public hearings today and one more next week to solicit public feedback on ten alternatives […]

Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. | Photo: bronxboropres.nyc.gov

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. | Photo: bronxboropres.nyc.gov

WINNERS

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. — During his State of the Borough speech, Diaz called on the state to stop dragging its feet and redevelop the Sheridan Expressway.

Hicksville commuters — Governor Cuomo has announced a $120 million improvement project for the Hicksville LIRR stationthe busiest station on Long Island.

Fair Haven, NJ Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli — The bike-friendly mayor is taking his campaign for streets safety to Washington to participate in the USDOT’s Mayors’ Challenge.

Ossining Village Board of Trustees  Ossining has adopted a Complete Streets policy which will take effect immediately.

New Rochelle, NY — The City Council has approved two development projects near the town’s Metro-North station, which will include affordable housing.

Metro-North riders — By mid-April, all Metro-North conductors will carry credit card machines.

Statewide transit riders — On Thursday, state and local electeds came together at separate events in Buffalo and in Yonkers for a unified call to action: the State must prioritize funding for statewide transit systems.

New York City road users — WNYC analysis of NYC’s speed camera program has found that the program is improving safety, as both tickets and crashes have decreased in areas with cameras.

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Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.

New York City Councilmember Mark Weprin | Photo: DecideNYC.com

New York City Councilmember Mark Weprin | Photo: DecideNYC.com

WINNERS

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy — Governor Malloy unveiled today a truly multi-modal long-term transportation plan which includes, among other things, an eastern extension of CTfastrak, upgrades to the Metro-North Waterbury Branch and a program to improve pedestrian and bicycle improvements in urban areas.

New York City Department of Transportation — The City DOT has begun the release of its borough-specific Vision Zero action plans, so far releasing plans for QueensManhattan and the Bronx. The plans detail specific “priority” corridors and intersections identified through research and public workshops over the last year.

New York City Councilmember Mark Weprin — After having opposed previous congestion pricing proposals, Weprin is now one of MoveNY’s biggest proponents and one of few elected officials publicly endorsing the plan.

Senators Chuck Schumer (NY) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) — The senators’ new legislation, the Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015, would dramatically increase funding for the Federal Highway Administration’s rail safety programs.

Gene Aronowitz — The Brooklyn resident is working to educate fellow senior citizens about traffic safety.

The Village of Munsey Park, NY — Village officials stand by the effectiveness of traffic enforcement cameras, and are considering the possibility of installing them as part of a four-point traffic safety plan to curb the village’s speeding epidemic.

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How Should We Fix the Port Authority? Upcoming Panel Seeks Solution to Bi-State Agency Reform

Last year was full of bad news for those advocating for reform at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. After months of broad discussion about how to best fix the myriad issues plaguing the bi-state agency, two bills advanced through both states’ legislatures. Unfortunately, the day after Christmas, both governors approved […]

Register Now for NJ Future’s Redevelopment Forum

New Jersey Future‘s annual Redevelopment Forum is approaching fast! Register now to take advantage of the early-bird rate (which ends this Friday, February 20).

The Redevelopment Forum takes place on March 13 at the New Brunswick Hyatt Hotel and Conference Center, and will feature keynotes from Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Congress for the New Urbanism President Lynn […]

Camden Passes New Jersey’s First Sustainability Ordinance

CAPTION: Developers in Camden will be required to submit documentation of the environmental impacts and benefits of proposed projects. | Source: Rutgers University

Now that a sustainability ordinance has been passed, developers in Camden will be required to submit documentation of the environmental impacts and benefits of proposed projects. | Source: Rutgers University

Camden, New Jersey has solidified its commitment to continued environmental and economic progress by adopting the Garden State’s first-ever sustainability ordinance. Passed by the Camden City Council on Tuesday, the ordinance had support from the many community groups that make up the Camden Green Team (of which Tri-State is an active member) along with support from prominent City leaders, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Cooper’s Ferry Partnership.

The Ordinance Adopting Sustainability Requirements for the City of Camden requires developers to submit an Environmental Impact and Benefit Assessment (EIBA) to be reviewed by the Camden City Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment before project approval. These agencies will then make a determination on the extent to which applicants can provide environmental and public health benefits as part of the proposed project.

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Walking Towards the Green in Camden, New Jersey

The assessment will seek to plan for infrastructure that expands upon existing projects with the power to improve community health in Camden, including the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) and Camden SMART Initiative’s ongoing transformation of former industrial property into parkland on the Delaware River waterfront. | Photo: Doug Burns, CCMUA

The assessment will seek to plan for infrastructure that expands upon existing projects with the power to improve community health in Camden, including the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) and Camden SMART Initiative’s ongoing transformation of former industrial property into parkland on the Delaware River waterfront. | Photo: Doug Burns, CCMUA

Can community gardens in Camden, New Jersey help to support local health needs and, if so, are the surrounding streets and intersections safe conduits for residents to access these spaces for healthy eating and recreation?

TSTC was recently awarded a grant that will seek to answer this question.

The grant will support a day-long health impact and livability assessment in Camden called “Walking Towards the Green.” The assessment will take place in the spring, and will include a walking audit to inventory and note community assets and needs such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, trails, green space, community gardens and access to community gardens. This work is funded through the Shaping New Jersey program, which “focuses on environmental and policy change to reduce obesity and chronic disease.”

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Report Notes New Jersey’s Road Troubles, but Misses the Mark on How to Solve Them

Poor roads lead to not just higher vehicle maintenance costs, but also  | Photo: Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger

New Jersey’s poor roads lead to not just higher vehicle maintenance costs, but also traffic crashes and congestion. | Photo: Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger

New Jersey residents just got slammed with more bad news this month. The Washington D.C. based, industry-funded transportation research organization TRIP released a report which found that the poor condition of New Jersey’s roads and bridges cost Garden State drivers a whopping $1,951 a year.

This figure is considerably higher than the $605 reported last year by the American Society of Civil Engineers because TRIP takes into consideration congestion-related delay ($861 worth of lost time and wasted fuel) and traffic crashes ($485 in lost household and workplace productivity, insurance costs and other financial costs), not just additional vehicle operating costs (such as accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repairs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear).

The report astutely notes that New Jersey’s increase in population, vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) and economic growth over the past 22 years has placed an increased demand on the state’s road network. TRIP’s recommendations for future improvements, however, miss the mark.

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Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.

sweeney_color

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney | Photo: njleg.state.nj.us

WINNERS

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney — After several bridge closures, Sweeney declared that “[New Jersey’s] transportation priorities are mixed up,” and is now calling for the creation of a comprehensive transportation plan for the state.

Advocates for Albany reform — The arrest of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has put the state’s political system under scrutiny, generating widespread calls for reform.

“Gridlock” Sam Schwartz — The engineer and former NYC traffic commissioner has proposed a potential work-around for the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station’s truck traffic problem.

Amtrak — The agency has given cross-Hudson commuters a sliver of hope to cling to for the first time since Governor Christie shut down the ARC plan: Amtrak will be taking its first step toward the construction of two new rail tunnels with an environmental review this fall, and in the meantime they continue to lobby for funding for the Gateway project.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano — At least week’s State of Long Island breakfast event, Mangano mourned the loss of the county’s school zone speed camera program, insisting that it was successful while it lasted.

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