What is Corridor and Subarea Planning?
A critical element of the NJTPA’s regional transportation planning is identifying and advancing accessibility and mobility improvements in major travel corridors and subareas. Local concerns about heavily congested streets and highways, air quality, noise, and land use development are carefully incorporated into any recommended improvements, while addressing travel that extends beyond the jurisdiction of any one town or county. Corridor studies can involve highway travel, as well as transit and bicycle and pedestrian travel.
Years ago, corridor studies mainly consisted of a highly technical evaluation of highway performance, focusing on issues such as traffic signal timing and spacing, lane widths and weaving patterns. With the goal of eliminating congestion and increasing travel speeds for automobiles and commercial verhicles, little thought was given to other modes that share the road, such as transit vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, or to how local land use decisions were creating or exacerbating congestion and mobility problems.
All this changed in recent years with the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) by Congress in 1991, and the wider realization that “we can’t build our way out of congestion,” particularly in the urbanized northeast. This renewed approach embraces a balanced approach to vehicular and non-vehicular travel, incorporates outreach approaches to actively engage local decision makers and stakeholders and is creating transportation systems for "Livable Communities".
NJTPA Corridor and Subarea Studies
NJTPA corridor and subarea studies address a variety of mobility, accessibility and safety needs. Studies often will analyze improvement options that take into account the entire transportation system within a study area, including multiple roadways, rail and bus service, park and rides facilities and bicycle/pedestrian linkages.
Increasingly, corridor and subarea studies incorporate land use considerations and "smart growth" planning, taking legislation such as the Highlands Preservation Act into consideration. Corridor studies also take into account local land use policies and plans and stakeholder input from agencies, local officials and the public.
The outcomes are well defined multi-modal solutions that can be "handed off" to implementing agencies such as the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), NJ Transit or county or local engineers. The recommendations may address not only traffic congestion, but also regional and local needs for better transit, park & rides and non-motorized transportation modes.
NJTPA also plays an advisory role in numerous transportation planning studies led by other agencies where recommended corridor scale improvements will have regional implications.
Corridor and Subarea Studies in the NJTPA Region
NJTPA-led corridor and subarea studies now underway:
- Evaluation of Next Generation Bus Rapid Transit Service in the NJTPA Region This study will evaluate the planning and implementation processes for BRT systems currently operating in North America, with an emphasis on systems operating in built environments similar to northern New Jersey, identify BRT-appropriate corridors in the NJTPA Region, identify barriers to implementation, and recommend specific actions necessary to implement BRT or BRT-like services in selected corridors.
- Rail Right-of-Way Inventory and Assessment - This effort will identify currently abandoned, out of service, and underutilized railroad rights of way in the NJTPA region that should be prioritized for preservation for future public transit uses. The study will also consider the relationship of various other transportation and infrastructure needs that may compete for the use of these corridors, and will evaluate the regulatory environment for rail abandonment notification.
- NJTPA sub-regional studies - NJTPA funds numerous county-led studies on a bi-yearly basis. These studies address local issues that have regional impacts. Examples of recently completed sub-regional studies include the
Jersey City Waterfront Access and Circulation Study and the
Route 202 Corridor Assessment & Multi-Modal Mobility Plan in
Somerset and Hunterdon Counties.
Corridor and subarea studies led by other agencies now underway:
- Flemington Corridor Transit Study - The NJTPA and NJ TRANSIT are partnering on a study that will develop initial concepts and evaluate the feasibility of instituting improved transit service in a busy east-west corridor roughly following US Routes 202 & 206 between Bound Brook in Somerset County and Flemington Borough in Hunterdon County. Both bus and rail options will be assessed in this study. One option that will be examined is a potential passenger rail service utilizing the Norfolk Southern Lehigh freight rail line and the Black River and Western freight rail line as far west as Flemington. Completion in 2012 is anticipated.
- Greater New Brunswick Bus Rapid Transit Study Phase II - NJ Transit is conducting a study to refine Phase I options for development of a Bus Rapid Transit system for the New Brunswick area in Middlesex County.
- Northeast New Jersey Metro Mobility Study - Comprehensive review of transit services in northeastern New Jersey that will focus on improved bus routes, services and intermodal connections. Integration with new rail services and rail corridors will be examined, with special attention on access to new and improved rail service resulting from ARC. In addition, an investigation of buses using the George Washington Bridge to access Manhattan will look at mobility needs around the toll plaza. This study is jointly funded by NJTPA and NJ Transit.
- Route 1 Bus Rapid Transit - The NJTPA has joined with NJDOT, NJ Transit and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) in funding a study of a Bus Rapid Transit System along the US Route 1 corridor in Middlesex, Somerset, and Mercer Counties. NJ Transit and DVRPC are currently engaged in refinement and environmental analysis of conceptual BRT service options, and are developing near-term plans for potential upgrades and expansions to the areas's local bus network. More information is available via the DVRPC Website.
Various additional studies are under way under the lead of NJDOT, NJ Transit and county and municipal agencies within the NJTPA region.
Recently completed NJTPA-funded corridor studies (final reports completed or pending completion):
- Elizabeth Midtown Multi-Modal Integration Study -This study will develop an effective integration plan between NJ TRANSIT's rail station in the City of Elizabeth and the surrounding central business district. This effort will produce a conceptual plan for "gateway" corridors with enhanced traffic circulation, safety, and infrastructure leading to the rail station, and identify opporunties to enhance multi-modal transfer opportunities to rail and bus services at the station facility. Completion in 2011 is anticipated.
- Greater Newark Bus System Study - NJ TRANSIT finalized a three-year study (formerly titled the "Newark Elizabeth Comprehensive Bus Study") that aims to improve bus services and facilties in the greater Newark area. This multi-year study is the first comprehensive examination of bus service in the Newark area in over twenty years.
- Greater New Brunswick Bus Rapid Transit Study Phase I - NJ Transit has completed a study of options for development of a Bus Rapid Transit system for the New Brunswick area in Middlesex County.
- Hudson County Jitney Study - This study will identify ways to better integrate and regulate jitney operations, and provide for a safer, more efficient transportation service in Hudson County. This analysis and the recommendations that result from the study will assist state, county and local policy makers in better integrating jitney services into the overall transportation system. It is intended that the findings and recommendation of this study be applicable to other counties in the region that have a significant jitney presence. This study builds on an analysis completed in the Hudson County Bus Circulation and Infrastructure Study in 2007. This study will undertake a more detailed analysis of jitney operations, including a review of interstate and intrastate operating authorities, and research into the legal options of regulating services operated by federally licensed interstate providers.
- I-78 Corridor Transit Study - This NJDOT-funded study assessed the need, impact and feasibility of various transit strategies along the I-78 corridor between Lehigh County, Pennsylvania to the west and Somerset County, New Jersey to the east. NJDOT, NJ Transit, the Delaware River Joint Bridge & Toll Commission, study area counties and others have been active partners in this multi-modal planning effort.
- Jersey City Bus Study -The Jersey City Bus Study, completed in November, 2009, evaluated current and future service needs in this growing and public transportation-dependent city. As part of the study, launched in the fall of 2008, public input and various data were analyzed to determine recommendations for bus services and capital improvements that will meet riders’ long-term needs.
- Northwest New Jersey Bus Study - In December, 2010 the NJTPA and NJ TRANSIT completed a comprehensive needs analysis of bus, shuttle and ridesharing options in a study area that includes large portions of Sussex and Morris Counties, northern Warren County, and western Passaic County. The study findings identify a need for improved service, facilities, and intermodal connectivity in order to provide better commuting options for individuals who live and/or work in the northwestern counties.
- Route 440 Hudson Bergen Light Rail Extension Study - This NJ TRANSIT led study explores the feasibility of extending Hudson-Bergen Light Rail service farther west in Jersey City from its current western terminus at West Side Avenue Station to a redevelopment zone near Route 440 along the Hackensack Riverfront. The Final Alternatives Analysis Report is available to review on the project website.
Resources for communities who want to do a corridor study