Mobilizing the Region
Issue 154December 12, 1997

NJ DOT Releases Capital Plan "Project Pool"

The New Jersey DOT's recently released "project pool", from which the 1999-2003 State Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) will be largely drawn, shows scant evidence of new thinking by the agency. The Tri-State Campaign, along with NJ metropolitan planning organizations, is engaged in discussions with DOT about projects to add or axe from the list, and over what the overall distribution of funds should be. While there are not many surprises in the plan, there are a few clear contenders for kudos and booby prizes:

Thumbs up

  • $10 million per year in rail freight -- The sale of Conrail will add to the extensive list of opportunities to shift goods to rail with targeted investment in NJ's network. $15-$20 million per year may be called for, but $10 million is a step up from the $2 million typically allocated to the rail freight program.

  • $1 million per year for bicycle and pedestrian safety projects -- a welcome if too small set aside within the local aid fund.

    Thumbs down

  • $77 million rail park and ride budget for new parking facilities throughout the NJ Transit system, but especially on the Morris and Essex, Main, Bergen, and Pascack Valley Lines, where Midtown Direct service and the Secaucus Transfer will continue to boost ridership. $77 million will buy a staggering amount of parking -- at least 7,000 spaces -- and is nearly three times what is programmed in the current TIP. If NJTransit put any significant amount of this money into alternatives for getting people to stations, it could significantly reduce local traffic.

  • The state with the bicycling governor continues to do poorly by human-powered transportation. The Tri-State Campaign recommended twenty-five new pedestrian and bicycle projects to DOT for this year's capital plan, but the safety fund above is the only bike/pedestrian addition to this year's project pool.

    The Campaign's analysis of last year's NJ DOT capital plan can be found on our web site. Watch for our analysis of this year's capital plan there and in these pages as it evolves in the next two months.

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