Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Press Release - Newark to Launch Complete Streets Program

Program designed to create street corridors and intersections that will be safe
for pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists, seniors, children, and the mobility-challenged

Newark, NJ – September 25, 2012 – Mayor Cory A. Booker and Engineering Director Mehdi Mohammadish announced today that the City of Newark adopted a Municipal Council Resolution creating a “Complete Streets Policy.” This policy was adopted by the Municipal Council on September 6, 2012, is designed to create street corridors and intersections that will be safe for pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists, seniors, children, and the mobility-challenged.

The Complete Streets Policy will create a comprehensive, integrated, connected multi-modal network by facilitating connections to bicycling and walking in all of the City’s street and sidewalk projects.

“We have taken a holistic approach to making our streets and sidewalks safe and accessible for all of our residents and visitors, whether they walk, drive, or bicycle. Newark’s streets will be the safest and most welcoming in the entire nation,” Mayor Booker said.

“We have always emphasized the highest levels of accessibility and safety in our efforts to maintain and improve our streets and sidewalks. The Complete Streets program will provide us with a comprehensive plan to achieve those goals,” said Director Mohammadish.

“Complete Streets is defined as a means to provide safe access for all users by designing and operating a comprehensive, integrated, connected multi-modal network of transportation options,” said Manager of Traffic and Signals Jack Nata. “Newark is committed to creating street corridors and intersections that safely accommodate all users of all abilities.”

The Complete Streets program calls for the following:

·         Providing safe and accessible accommodations for existing and future pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities.
·         Establishing a checklist of pedestrian, bicycle, and transit accommodations such as accessible sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks, countdown pedestrian signals, signs, curb extensions, pedestrian scale lighting, bike lanes, and shoulders.
·         Transportation facilities constructed for long-term use shall anticipate likely future demand for bicycling and walking facilities and not preclude the provision of future improvements.
·         Designs shall address the need for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross corridors, as well as travel along them, in a safe, accessible and convenient manner.
·         Designs for intersections, interchanges, and bridges shall anticipate use by bicyclists and pedestrians.
·         Bicycle and pedestrian facilities shall be designed and constructed to the best currently available standards and practices.
·         Provisions shall be made for pedestrians and bicyclists when closing roads, bridges or sidewalks for construction projects.
·         Improvements shall comply with Title VII Environmental Justice, Americans With Disabilities Act, and complement the context of the surrounding community.

Manager Nata noted that the City has already undertaken projects to enhance Newark’s accessibility for bicyclists and pedestrians, with a new bike lane on Washington Street, and new curb ramps and sidewalks as part of its Streetscaping efforts on Broad Street, Ferry Street, and other arteries.

The announcement drew praise from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. The Campaign is a non-profit policy watchdog organization working for better transit and transportation policy in New Jersey, downstate New York, and Connecticut. 

“Tri-State applauds the passage of a Complete Streets policy in Newark, the largest city in New Jersey.  The adoption of this policy supports Newark’s other efforts, such as bike lanes and Go Bus, towards building a more green, sustainable, and progressive city. With its many green initiatives, Newark serves as an important model for sustainable streets that should be replicated elsewhere,” said Janna Chernetz, Esq., New Jersey Advocate for Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

Under the Booker administration, the Department of Engineering has begun a vigorous program of improving the City’s infrastructure. The City of Newark is close to completing the largest park expansion and rehabilitation initiative in more than a century. On July 28, 2009, Newark opened Nat Turner Park, the largest city-owned park. Through public-private partnerships, the City was able to secure $40 million for the parks initiative, in collaboration with GreenSpaces, a public/private partnership, and the Trust for Public Land. Thus far, the City has completed new parks and fields at St. Peter’s Park, Kasberger Field, Boys Park, First Street and Thomas Silk Parks, Ironbound B Field, and, in cooperation with Newark Public Schools, has built a new athletic complex at Weequahic High School.  Parks have been renovated in every ward throughout the City.

In May 2008, the Department of Engineering won the New Jersey Concrete Committee’s Merit Award in the Decorative Category for the first phase of the Broad Street Streetscaping, which saw massive renovations to denote the historic nature of the historic “Four Corners” intersection at Broad and Market Streets. The project reconstructed sidewalks, created fence panels, installed new street furniture and traffic lights to promote pedestrian safety.

In November 2009, the Department won the New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers Honor Place Award in the Municipal Construction Management Projects “F” Category for the first phase of the Ferry Street Streetscaping Project. The $1.9 million project, funded by the City of Newark and the New Jersey Department of Transportation, was a partnership with the Ironbound Business Improvement District, designed to enhance the Ironbound’s central artery and gateway to businesses and restaurants in the East Ward, as well as improve safety conditions for pedestrians crossing the busy thoroughfares. Under the program, state-of-the-art sidewalks with planters and decorative lighting were placed down Ferry Street from Union to Madison Streets. These sidewalks improved safety for motorists and pedestrians. The project also reconstructed sidewalks, utilities and drainage, created fence panels and utilized already existing bike paths. New street furniture, signage and traffic lights also enhanced safety for pedestrians.

The Department of Engineering has also undertaken a number of pedestrian safety improvements, highlighted by “Project Red Light,” a partnership with the Police Department, the Municipal Court, and RedFlex Systems. This automated photo enforcement system snaps pictures of license plates of cars that run red lights at key intersections and automatically sends tickets to the cars’ owners. Operating since December 2009, this system has made these intersections safer for both motorists and pedestrians.

In 2012, the Department launched $27 million worth of streetscaping, road re-surfacing, traffic calming, and traffic signal installations. The projects will improve the City’s infrastructure and enhance safety on its roads for motorists and pedestrians alike. Among the projects is the largest traffic-calming program in Newark’s history, currently underway in the West Ward.

The Department has also launched a comprehensive rehabilitation of the City’s Recreation centers, Police precincts, firehouses, and other facilities. At the same time, the Department of Engineering has opened new repair facilities for City-owned vehicles, added environmentally-friendly electric cars to its motor fleet, launched green initiatives, and is continuing the restoration of historic City Hall.

For information about this or any other City of Newark policy or program, contact the Non-Emergency Call Center at (973) 733-4311.

Contact:         Newark Press Information Office: (973) 733-8004.

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