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Embracing Complete Streets at NJDOT

 

On December 10th, 2009, NJDOT instituted a new internal policy called Complete Streets to ensure that transportation planners and engineers consistently plan, 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 multi-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 was one of the first ten states to make Complete Streets an official internal policy. NJDOT is doing all it can to ensure that Complete Streets represents more than just a policy change, instead focusing on changing the way staff at the Department think. In accordance with this policy, those planning, designing, constructing and/or maintaining projects on state roads or who will be using state or federal funds must give the same consideration to the needs of all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. All projects in NJDOT’s pipeline must include complete streets. Any exceptions must be presented to the Capital Program Committee and must have

sufficient data to support “why not” and the final decision is made by the Commissioner.

 

To help foster this cultural change within the Department, NJDOT held 6 training workshops for upper management, project managers, engineers and planners from all over the Department. The training workshops, led by Michael Ronkin, an internationally-recognized consultant and speaker on innovative, practical street design, focused on the importance of designing our roads for all users, key elements of the Complete Streets policy, and putting the policy into action. Debbie Kingsland from NJDOT’s Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs reports that “the workshops were very well attended and we received a lot of enthusiastic and positive feedback.” She also noted that already, “we are seeing a real change in how projects are designed.”

 

In addition, NJDOT sponsored a Complete Streets Summit that was held in October and is currently working on creating a Complete Streets grant through their Local Aid program to allow municipalities and counties to apply for funding of complete streets projects. A Complete Streets curriculum is being developed to be used for Regional Complete Streets workshops to guide local governments in developing a policy and how to integrate planning through construction into their capital

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