Sunday, April 13, 2014

Barnegat Branch Rail Trail Bridges Into Lacey

The momentum to complete the Barnegat Branch Rail Trail in Central Ocean County continues with a new section between Waretown and Forked River that opened quietly in late fall of 2013. On Saturday this former no mans land around the Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant was teeming with cyclists, joggers, dog walkers. And it was more than people out for nice walk or ride.  I observed perhaps a dozen trail users accessing local shopping centers and NJ TRANSIT bus stops along the adjacent Route 9.

Rebuilt Abandoned RR Bridge over Oyster Creek

The south end of the trail now extends 7 miles from just north of Bay Avenue in Barnegat Township to just south of Lacey Rd in Lacey Township. Other completed sections are in Beachwood Boro and Berkeley Township. When completed the trail will stretch 15 miles to downtown Toms River. The surface is mostly a packed stone dust aggregate but paved at the road intersections along with boardwalk bridges. I doubt if anyone with bike tires wider than 23mm (.9 inches) will have an issue with this trail.

But the key segment that will connect the Lacey section with the north end has proven to the most explosive. For more than a decade Township officials have fought for and finally won to convert the abandoned Barnegat Branch line into a new road (Railroad Ave extension). This road is envisioned as a bypass for Route 9 and opposition to the road in favor of the converting the rail to a trail was well organized but in the end the Township voted in leadership that favored the road in 2012. The plan moved forward when NJ DEP issued a permit for the road in August of 2013.

The trail is planned to built as a sidepath along this stretch of road but one has to wonder if the outcome would have been different if the southern half of the trail was completed before the 2012 election. 

Regardless, there is a long way to go before the completion of Railroad Avenue, the final design (which will give an estimate closer to the real cost) has not been completed. The Township has a complete streets policy and this is one project that we will be monitoring to see if this local project made from scratch walks the walk.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

10 Miles of Bike Lanes and Continuous Sidewalks for Route 35

NJDOT announced the complete streets plans for Route 35 which includes 10 miles of bike lanes, six of which are buffered (note the left frame) and 12 miles of continuous sidewalk with ADA compliant curb cuts, crosswalks and countdown signals. This may turn out be one of the largest complete streets reconstruction projects in the Country. To learn more go to this article on the Tri State Transportation Campaign's MTR Blog.

Monday, March 31, 2014

NJDOT to Unveil Route 35 Bike Lane Plans in Seaside Heights Tomorrow April 1

It's no April Fools Joke. Tomorrow NJDOT is holding a press event that will update the public on the current status of the Route 35 project. In addition NJDOT will reveal the final striping and complete streets plan for the rebuilt Route 35 between Bay Head and Island Beach.

As you may remember the original striping plans presented to the public in June of 2013 did not include bike lanes along this very popular bicycle route. This prompted action by a coalition of complete streets advocates and local residents to convince NJDOT to modify their plans.

While we don't currently know what the final design we have been hearing from people familiar with the plans that at least some of the concerns of the coalition have been addressed. It is unlikely that bike lanes have been put in everywhere. The Borough of Lavallette opposed to the concept of back in angle parking, bike lanes are not recommended as compatible with traditional angle parking. In other places (such as Bay Head) the road is simply too narrow for bike lanes and the options are either sharrows or a parallel signed route on adjacent streets.

We hope that if you are in the area that you attend this press conference to show your support for complete streets.

Route 35 Reconstruction Press Conference
April 1, 2014

Seaside Heights Community Center 
1000 Bay Boulevard (corner of Hancock Street), Seaside Heights, NJ
The media advisory is provided after the jump.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

On the Eve of Bike Share Hoboken Seeks to Build Out its Bike Network

According to Hoboken is about to vote on expanding its bike network to near build out status.

"The City Council on Wednesday will consider a $13,000 planning contract for new lanes on six Hoboken streets: Willow Avenue, Park Avenue, Garden Street, Hudson Street, First Street and Newark Street,according to council documents. The council plans to vote on whether to award the contract to Boswell McClave Engineering, which would prepare lane striping plans for the streets..."

If the measure passes and the lane markings are completed then 10 of the 14 north-south streets in the City will have some type of on-road bicycle facility (bike lanes or sharrows) with the only major gaps remaining being the interruptions of the Hudson River Greenway along Frank Sinatra Drive (and arguably Steven's Tech).

With only about 2 months before the debut of (the tentatively named) HudCoBikeShare, Hoboken is set to be well ahead of its other bike share partners (Jersey City and Weehawken) in getting the needed infrastructure on the ground. If data collection is as good and open as other bike sharing operations (including CitiBike) we should get a good picture on how this contrast affects the usage patterns of the program.

Nextbike kiosk in Germany. Nextbike is the supplier for HudCoBikeShare

Saturday, March 15, 2014

NJDOT Announces Transportation Alternatives and Safe Routes To School Funding

The information below is provided the NJ Safe Routes to School

Applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Safe Routes to School (SRTS) and Transportation Alternatives (TAP) Programs. 

The solicitation for these federally funded programs is being administered by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), in partnership with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), and the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO).

For more information about the SRTS grant, see the solicitation letter here

For more information about the TAP grant, see the solicitation letter here

NJDOT’s application guidance document for the SRTS program containing the necessary information for completing an application and answering questions regarding eligibility and program requirements can be viewed here.  The application guidance document for TAP can be viewed here

Applications for both SRTS and TAP are available through NJDOT’s online grant management system, SAGE (System for Administering Grants Electronically). The application deadline is May 15, 2014.

Visit NJDOT’s Local Aid and Economic Development website to learn more about both the SRTS and TAP grants.

Some key things to remember before applying -

  • The TAP program will have about $15M and includes surplus from the former Transportation Enhancements program.
  • SRTS will have $5M available
  • Only local/county governments (including School Districts for SRTS) can apply
  • NJDOT has heard concerns about Technical Assistance and will be providing more technical support this year. Look for an upcoming webinar, local training/workshops and a tip sheet to improve you application. NJ Safe Routes to School already has developed a TIP sheet for SRTS
  • Program managers like to emphasize that both programs distribute funds for reimbursement.

Friday, March 14, 2014

NJDOT to repair two bridges in Somerset County - Forgets to provide bicycling detours

In some ways NJDOT is a leader in bicycle and pedestrian and Safe routes to School facilitation but in too many others ways its the same old 1960's NJDOT.  Recently NJDOT announce that it will be repairing two bridges in Somerset County which happens to have some of the best road cycling in the state.  Unfortunately NJDOT failed to recognize cyclists needs in their closure plans.

In Franklin Township it will be replacing and rehabilitating the bridge that goes over the Delaware and Raritan Canal on the Weston (Manville) Causeway near Manville.  According to the press release, the bridge will be closed until early summer.  The press release then goes into significant detail about detours for motor vehicles.  However this bridge is directly adjacent to the Canal Towpath which is a very popular bicycle route and part of the East Coast Greenway.  There is also a parking lot on east side of the canal which serves the Tow Path on the west side (not seen in the Google image below).  The bridge to be closed is the only access from the parking lot to the path.  While it may be inevitable that the bridge will need to be closed to all forms of traffic, there are no details given about how this project might effect or even close the Tow Path.  There is no information if pedestrian and cycling access might be maintained over the bridge during the project, and if not, a detour for bicyclist and pedestrians that might be not be so effected by detoured motor traffic.

While cyclists familiar with this area should be able to navigate around the Weston Causeway closure with only little problem, further north in Bedminster, the closure of Burnt Mills Road as bridges are rebuilt over both I287 and I78 will cause significant inconvenience for cyclists.  This area is exceptionally popular with cyclists as riders will come down from Washington Valley Drive and connect to Burnt Mills Road and the fantastic cycling roads to the west.  The bridge replacement project will last until the end of 2014.  In the NJDOT press release, detours are given for but use I78 and I287.  It is rather disappointing that the detours given by NJDOT are simply not an option for cyclists and that the press release mentions noting about bicyclist or pedestrian needs.  Fortunately WalkBikeJersey has you covered with the bicycle friendly detour provided below.

We all understand that these bridges need to be repaired and that closure to all traffic; motor, bike and pedestrian is likely the only way to safely get the work done.  However, failure to address the needs of cyclists regarding these road closures by NJDOT in areas that is exceptionally popular with cyclists is just not acceptable today.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Action Alert - Trails projects suspended by NJDEP

This action alert was issued by the New Jersey Bike Walk Coalition to save Rec Trails Funding. We at WalkBikeJersey suggest that NJDOT's Local Aid Office would be an excellent steward for this federal transportation funding program.

Nearly $2 million of federal funds that are earmarked for trails projects in New Jersey for 2013 and 2014 have been suspended by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

The $2 million in trail funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program (RTP) which is provided for under MAP-21, the nation's current transportation law.

Since the trails program began in 1993, more than $17 million has been awarded to state, county and local government agencies and nonprofits in New Jersey.

The multi-use trail "haul road" at Franklin Parker Preserve near Chatsworth