Sustainable Jersey: Creating a place, rather than a design

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Morristown and Asbury Park implement complete streets

As summer begins in New Jersey, you may find yourself visiting one of the hundreds of communities in the state that have adopted or implemented policies promoting complete streets. Complete streets make it easy to cross the street, drive your car, walk to shops, bicycle to work and access buses or train stations, no matter your age or ability.

North Jersey Municipalities Encouraged to Take Action on Complete Streets-Related Solutions

While New Jersey leads the nation in the number of complete streets policies adopted, it continues to lag behind in overall complete streets implementation. Sustainable Jersey, the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, Together North Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Transportation are collaborating to provide free trainings and technical assistance to advance complete streets implementation at the local level.

One of the key barriers to implementing complete streets is that it requires a lot of special knowledge, skills and resources for municipalities to develop complete streets-related solutions. The goal of this effort is to assist communities in implementing complete streets at the local level.

The coordinated effort includes both free training and free technical assistance. The day-long training workshop is offered on two days: June 26 in Newark and June 27 in New Brunswick. The training is open to anyone interested in complete streets, including municipal officials, staff and the public. Although there is no charge to attend the workshop, advance registration is required.

The complete streets technical assistance program will support municipal government efforts to implement complete streets in nine municipalities.  Selected participants will receive direct technical assistance to complete a specific project related to advancing a complete streets initiative in their communities. To be eligible to participate in this program, an applicant must be a municipal government in the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority region comprised of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties. Applications must be submitted using the online application portal by July 27, 2018.

Sustainable Jersey Certified Towns Adopt Complete Streets Policy
Many of Sustainable Jersey’s certified towns have adopted a complete streets policy. Both, Sustainable Jersey silver-certified Morristown, in Morris County, and bronze-certified Asbury Park, located in Monmouth County, have received recognition for their accomplishments. In 2017, the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, gave Morristown a Complete Streets Excellence Award and Asbury Park a Complete Streets Champion Award.

Morristown Implements Complete Streets Checklist

MorristoSJStreets1wn was the first municipality in New Jersey to implement a complete streets checklist to guide all of the new development projects. In addition to a variety of off-road, multi-use trails such as Patriot’s Path, Morristown has provided right-of-way access to bicyclists by means of sharrows (a shared-lane marking for bikes and vehicles) and signage declaring “Bicycle May Use Full Lane.” Additionally, Morristown’s Complete Streets projects offer wide sidewalks for pedestrians, ADA compliant ramps, parallel parking in both directions as a means of slowing traffic and providing a buffer for pedestrians and transit access.

Morristown is located at the crossroads of major regional transportation corridors, including an interstate highway, significant state and county roadways and commuter rail to New York City. The community understood that although these networks are at the core of the town’s economic and social potential for success, they have also facilitated development patterns that revolve around the car, and, if left unchecked, could serve to undermine the small town urban character.

SJPicture2Traditionally, municipal transportation plans describe and make recommendations for improving vehicular traffic while treating transit, cycling and walking as secondary concerns. Morristown decided to link its land use planning to its transportation plan. The program was different because it struck a balance among all modes. The goals are oriented towards complete, pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets, accessible and convenient public transit, minimizing negative impacts of traffic on local and regional highways and parking that supports walkability, transit ridership and sustainable development. Morristown’s 2014 Master Plan, called “Morristown Moving Forward, A Mobility and Community Form Plan,” lays the foundation for implementation strategies and additional goals.

The Morristown Bicycle Plan was completed in conjunction with Morristown’s Environmental Commission and the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The Township adopted the plan that is based on findings from a commissioned study that assessed bicycle compatibility of roadways and intersections using New Jersey Department of Transportation guidelines, an analysis of reported bicycle crashes and the identification of regional and local bicycle facilities and trip generators. The vision of the plan is to develop an easily accessible bicycle transportation system that will enhance mobility for residents and visitors, connecting them to an array of area resources

Like the Morristown Master Plan, the Morristown Bicycle Plan included the public in the planning and decision-making process. The process was two-fold, beginning with the creation of a steering committee and proceeding with public surveys, public reviews and multiple workshops. Finally, Morristown’s Bicycle Plan was crafted with the goal of compatibility in mind; to merge with existing State and local bicycle plans to integrate resources and promote trail development. With the help of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, work is continuing to improve pedestrian and bike connections between neighborhoods and to local parks and public places, as well as formalize connections to other pedestrian and bike trails linking Morristown to destinations within the region.

Asbury Park Complete Streets

SJStreets4The City of Asbury Park enhanced its mobility plan through its 2017 Master Plan & Master Plan Reexamination Report. The plan reaffirmed the need for additional pedestrian and bicycle routes and implementation of traffic-calming strategies. It also identified the need to facilitate motorist awareness of pedestrians and cyclists through an increase in signage and lights.

City efforts to improve the streets throughout Asbury Park are well underway and are supported by an active Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition. Crosswalks and traffic signals have already been improved. Asbury Park is developing a bike and pedestrian safety plan. The city is installing electric vehicle charging stations in various locations and will shortly begin designing a wayfinding signage system for both cars and pedestrians. Asbury Park contracted with Zagster to operate a bike-share program that allows residents to rent bicycles located at convenient locations.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation is currently reconstructing Main Street (State Route 71) in Asbury Park as a complete street – a project that has been over a decade in the making. This project will transform Main Street from a through corridor that was primarily designed to move cars, to a safe and inviting corridor for all users that better supports business development along Main Street and helps to unite the city’s east and west sides.

Although Main Street is a through street that connects Asbury Park with neighboring towns and provides beach access for motorists, it functions as a neighborhood shopping district that will benefit from an enhanced bicycle and pedestrian friendly environment. When finished, features will include a reduction from four vehicle travel lanes to two, new left turn lanes, new crosswalks and bike lanes and enhanced signaling to prevent backups during the busy summer months. The city will be installing new street trees, benches and bike racks through a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

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