|Engineering drawings can be very hard to read|
Route 38 and S Church St project in Moorestown
The complete streets movement is built on the premise that all road users are considered throughout the project development process. NJ DOT project managers have been for the most part trying to adhere to this process. I haven't seen a major urban/suburban project recently that did not have at least some pedestrian elements. But that doesn't mean that these early designs always hit the mark (especially for bike accommodations) and the public information sessions offer an opportunity to suggest improvements.
The first and most difficult task is finding out when meetings will be held in your area. The best place to look is on NJDOT's home page - http://www.state.nj.us/
If you see a project that interests you then follow the links through until you get to the project information handout page which will give you an overview of the project, keep this page available since it has the contact information for the community relations manager.
When you attend the meeting project engineers (usually a consultant) will be located around the room along with several displays of engineering plans and/or conceptual drawings. If you don't know what you are looking at then ask. Then start looking for the inclusion of complete streets elements, are there bike lanes? crosswalks? continuous sidewalks? If not then ask why these elements were not included in the design. Its good to discuss why these are important to you (especially if you live there) with the project manager who should be present. It's of course also important to ask for their business card. I also take pictures of the design boards, since project drawings are usually not available online.
Then it is time to submit your comments, often comments are taken on paper at the meeting but you could take your pictures home with you and comment later via email. I prefer the latter since I could attach drawings for suggested improvements. Send your comments to the contact from the public meeting to the community relations manager and if possible the project manager.
Finally build your advocacy power by sharing your information with your peers and urging them to participate. If you are member of the NJ Bike and Walk Coalition (and if you care about the issues on this blog you should be) cc your correspondence to them.
We should note that there are many more county projects than state road projects, in the future we will examine the county road design process which varies considerably throughout the state.