Thursday, August 11 by joegorun
Help make West Windsor more accessible and safe for walking, running and biking to Conover Fields, Mercer Lake, PNRA Rowing Center and Mercer Park by showing support for the Conover Rd multi-purpose paved trail project. It will connect the trail at S Post Rd, Conover Fields, and all of the neighborhoods until Galston Dr.
Submit your comments online by Friday, August 19 at:http://www.westwindsornj.org/conover-road.html and select ContactUs Form.
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Friday, December 30 by JerryFoster
A new report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) reveals that New Jersey hasn’t raised the gas tax in 20 years, while roadway construction costs have skyrocketed. Effectively reducing the purchasing power of our taxes, this lost revenue is significant – “annual losses in New Jersey are over $500 million.”
According to the report, “taxes and fees paid by drivers (the most significant of which is the gas tax) make up a smaller share of total highway funding than at any point since the creation of the Interstate Highway System in 1957.”
In our previous post, Who Pays for Our Roads, we looked at the components of New Jersey’s state roadway funding (consumer gas taxes, oil industry taxes and general sales tax), and noted that property taxes fund local and county roads. We also reported that New Jersey’s gas taxes only pay the interest on past roadway improvements, and improvements are 99% paid with borrowed money.
Adjusted for roadway construction costs, the ITEP report notes that New Jersey’s gas and diesel taxes have lost 40% of their purchasing power since they were last adjusted, a loss totaling $505million annually.
The report recommends solutions: “The best structural reform possible is to link, or ‘index,’ the gas tax rate to some official measure of transportation construction cost growth.” An increase of 11.8 cents per gallon of diesel and 9.8 cents per gallon of gasoline would restore purchasing parity.
How about it? We’ve seen NJTransit fares increase 25% – it now costs almost $30 for a round trip train ticket between Princeton Junction and New York. We’ve seen toll increases on the turnpike, tunnels and bridges, and more are coming. When the Scudder Falls bridge on I-95 gets expanded to 6 lanes, a toll will be charged for the first time. Our transportation network is very expensive, but so far we’ve been unwilling to pay to maintain it, preferring to borrow instead – it’s not a sustainable solution. What do you think?
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Sunday, December 25 by JerryFoster
This post was published as a Letter to the Editor in the West Windsor Plainsboro News December 16, 2011. In response to Lucy Vandenberg’s letter in the West Windsor Plainsboro News December 2, 2011, WW Transit Village a Model for State. As I expect Ms. Vandenberg would agree, the Transit Village is a good start, but more needs to be done to achieve the benefits of Smart Growth.
It’s not enough that the Transit Village will “make it possible for people to get out of their cars and walk, bike, and take the train to their destinations.” We must be able to safely walk and bike to and from the Transit Village.
It’s not enough to have compact development – we need a grocery store within walking distance, like the Acme that used to be in downtown West Windsor. Land use law and/or policies must require diverse uses – we need more than banks and real estate offices downtown, so that people have a variety of walkable destinations.
It’s not enough that compact development could be environmentally beneficial – we need specific open space preservation tied to specific dense developments like the Transit Village. It’s irrelevant that other space in New Jersey is already preserved.
It’s not enough to have Smart Growth policies for land use – transportation policy must support land use policy, by implementing the flexible standards in the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) Smart Transportation Guidebook.
It’s not enough that NJDOT and West Windsor Township adopted Complete Streets policies – Mercer County must also adopt the policy, which requires roadway improvements to support walking and biking. Otherwise major roads like CR 571 in downtown West Windsor are subject to expensive but counter-productive “improvements” that don’t meet the the township’s goal for “pedestrian-friendly, village scale development.” There’s nothing pedestrian-friendly about a wider road with 30% more cars going 45mph, with no place to safely wait in the middle when crossing.
The Rt 1 Regional Growth Strategy is not enough, since it doesn’t sufficiently support redevelopment in Trenton and New Brunswick, the two already-compact but underutilized “developments” anchoring the region. With the right policies, much of the region’s growth could fit into Trenton and New Brunswick with far less environmental and traffic impact. Without supporting our cities, the strategy’s Bus Rapid Transit system will effectively encourage sprawl in outlying areas, contrary to its stated goal.
Respectfully, it’s wrong to promise reduced congestion by implementing Smart Growth, even with Smart Transportation and the Bus Rapid Transit system. Like water, the transportation network balances itself as people choose to walk, bike, drive, or take the bus or train, depending on the cost and convenience of each. If there is less congestion, people will switch to driving until there is enough congestion to make it better to take another way.
The Transit Village is a good start, but doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We need complementary supporting policies to achieve the benefits of Smart Growth. If Smart Growth just means new and denser development, then it has already failed to achieve its goals.
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Friday, March 25 by JerryFoster
Moving Beyond the Automobile: Biking from Streetfilms on Vimeo.
In a recent episode of Moving Beyond the Automobile, a Streetfilms.org series, Portland, OR Mayor Sam Adams claims the total cost of their city’s award-winning bicycling infrastructure is the same as 1 mile of 4-lane freeway. What does Politifact.com have to say about that?
Portland is a national leader in building a bicycle and pedestrian friendly community, one of only three Platinum level Bicycle Friendly Communities, according to Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists.
According to Politifact, when Portland estimated the total cost of their biking infrastructure since 1993, “they came up with an estimated value of $52 million and adjusted it up to $60 million to be safe.” That wasn’t the actual cost, though – according to Roger Geller, Portland’s bike coordinator, “The $60 million figure is essentially the replacement value of our network as it existed in 2008 in 2008 dollars.”
To compare against the cost of a freeway, Politifact used several sources – costs were reported to vary widely depending on the surrounding environment, from $20 million to $80 million per mile for a 4 lane urban freeway. So Politifact gave the mayor’s statement a Mostly True!
Of course we’re all concerned about cost, but what about value? What return does Portland get for its investment? We’ll take that up in a future post.
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Thursday, December 9 by sandy
West Windsor Township has been awarded a Silver Certificate by Sustainable Jersey. SUSTAINABLE JERSEY ™ is a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term. So far, 67 New Jersey municipalities have been certified.
As part of the Sustainability Actions, West Windsor Township Council passed Resolution 2009-R060 and the Township created a Green Team on which WWBPA President Jerry Foster serves as an advisor. Read the complete Sustainable Jersey West Windsor Profile.
We think it’s also time for West Windsor to apply for Bicycle Friendly Community status from the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). Hoboken and Montclair were recently awarded honorable mentions.
And we’d like to see West Windsor work toward becoming a Walk Friendly Community, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. Just applying can be helpful in making West Windsor more pedestrian-friendly:
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“By applying for a Walk Friendly Community designation, your community will receive specific suggestions and resources on how to make needed changes for pedestrian safety. Through the questions in the assessment tool, your communities will be able to identify the areas of needed improvements that can form the framework for your comprehensive pedestrian improvement plan.” (from Walk-Friendly FAQs)