Safe Routes Scoop

New Jersey Department of Transportation Adopts a Complete Streets Policy

 

On December 10th, 2009, NJDOT Commissioner Stephen Dilts signed a new internal policy called Complete Streets to ensure that transportation planners and engineers consistently design, construct and maintain state or federally funded roadways to provide safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets are designed and operated to provide a comprehensive, integrated, connected mulit-modal network of transportation options, promote healthier lifestyles, create more livable neighborhoods, and reduce traffic congestion and reliance on carbon fuels, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

 

New Jersey is one of the first ten states to make Complete Streets an official internal policy. In accordance with this policy, those planning, designing, constructing and/or maintaining projects on state roads or who will be using Capital Program funds must give the same consideration to the needs of all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians, as they have traditionally given to motor vehicle operators. 

 

Accommodating all road users is not a new concept for NJDOT; the Department has had a “Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy” in effect since 1989. But the new Complete Streets policy moves the idea forward, as it supersedes the department’s

existing policy.  As Sheree Davis, NJDOT’s Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian

Programs, reported, “We’ve done a good job, but this policy strengthens it.”  The new policy specifically goes further than the existing policy by including transit users, the mobility-impaired, and others, making sure that “no user is left out of a project” according to Davis.  From the beginning of a project to the end, features such as sidewalks, wheelchair ramps, bike lanes, crosswalks and street signals must be included. Davis said “the new Complete Streets policy is a profound statement by the Department that all users on New Jersey state roadways deserve to be safely accommodated.  This policy will be immediately institutionalized into our project delivery process.”  

 

While the Complete Streets policy was written with permissible exemptions, Davis explained that these exemptions will not be granted easily.  “Any project that is brought to the Capital Program Committee would have to have supporting data and documentation as to why that project would be exempt from Complete Streets. Our next steps are to educate our transportation planners and engineers about this policy so that they have a better understanding of the benefits and need for Complete Streets.”

 

In all, by adopting a Complete

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