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July 25, 2019                                                                                    Volume 1, Issue 1

"In the age of information, ignorance is a choice." - Donald Miller, American author, public speaker, and business owner. 

Hello and welcome to SJTPO’s first issue of the On the Go newsletter! We are very excited to launch this newsletter which will inform and update you on a bi-monthly basis with all things transportation related. Gone are the days of individual articles!

This month, you will find information on the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) update, the Draft FY 2020-2029 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) comment period and public meeting, teen driver safety, Safe Routes to School and Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside Program awardees, as well as a staff spotlight piece.  

Each newsletter will be posted on the SJTPO website. Be sure to follow SJTPO on Facebook and Twitter for even more news, more frequently. We hope you have an enjoyable read! And please, do not forget to share with colleagues or others who may be interested in transportation in South Jersey.

- SJTPO Staff

2050 Regional Transportation Plan Engagement Opportunities

The SJTPO is beginning the process to update the federally-required Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The RTP is one of SJTPO’s core documents, updated every four years, that identifies the long-range vision for the Southern New Jersey transportation system. The RTP is a comprehensive plan that outlines the regional goals, strategies, and projects, as well as details on anticipated funding. The RTP will guide how over $5 billion in federal transportation funds will be spent in the SJTPO region over the next 30 years. While much of this funding will be spent on maintaining the regional transportation system, public input on the goals and strategies that guide this investment is essential, as roadway users depend on a reliable transportation network.

On Wednesday, June 26 and Thursday, June 27, 2019, SJTPO staff held public meetings at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Salem County and Dante Hall Theater of the Arts in Atlantic County, respectively. Members of the public engaged in exercises to prioritize the ten goals and provide input on the existing strategies and generate ideas for new strategies.
Attendees of the June 26, 2019 meeting in Salem are seen here participating in the strategies exercise, indicating whether they like or dislike a strategy, as well as offering ideas for additional strategies they would like incorporated into the RTP.
An additional two meetings will be held to gather feedback from the public. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 29, 2019 at 6:30 PM in the Caucus Room at Vineland City Hall. The final meeting will take place on Thursday, August 1, 2019 at 5:30 PM at the Cape May County Library. For more information on the meetings, or to comment online, visit www.sjtpo.org/RTP. The input received at these meetings and through the online comment form will guide the development of the RTP. SJTPO plans to release the draft RTP in March 2020 for public feedback and is scheduled for adoption in July 2020.

Additional public participation opportunities will be announced as they become available. The current plan, Transportation Matters – A Plan for South Jersey, is also available on the SJTPO website.

Draft FY 2020-2029 Transportation Improvement Program Available for Public Review and Comment

The SJTPO Draft FY 2020-2029 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) represents the federally funded projects scheduled to be implemented over a period of four years, along with project details for an additional six years. Much like the RTP, the TIP is a core document, and is required by federal law in order for the SJTPO to receive and spend federal transportation dollars in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem counties, including the cities of Atlantic City and Vineland. Updated, every two years, the development of the TIP is a collaborative effort between SJTPO, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), New Jersey Transit, and SJTPO’s member counties and cities. 

The Draft FY 2020-2029 TIP details how over $1.0 Billion of Federal and State funding will be spent within the region. The Draft TIP also introduces new projects and updates the schedules, costs, and funding for projects in the previous FY 2018-2027 TIP. The transportation projects included in the SJTPO TIP are also available for examination in the NJDOT and New Jersey Transit Draft FY 2020 Statewide TIP (STIP). The STIP details the transportation projects and programs for the entire state of New Jersey.

SJTPO welcomes interested parties to review and comment on the Draft FY 2020-2029 TIP. Comments will be received until 5:00 PM on Wednesday, August 21, 2019. The Draft TIP document is available on the SJTPO website, SJTPO’s office, and the State Depository Libraries. There are various ways to submit written comments, including:

To comment in person, a public meeting is scheduled for 6:00 PM on Thursday, August 15, 2019. The meeting will be held in the Caucus Room at Vineland City Hall. SJTPO staff, along with representatives from NJDOT and New Jersey Transit will be present to offer insight into the development of the TIP and STIP, as well as receive public comments. As noted, the comment period for the Draft TIP will remain open until August 21. The comment period for the Draft STIP will remain open until all three New Jersey Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) close their FY 2020-2029 TIP comment periods.

Comments received during the public comment period will be responded to and incorporated into the Final TIP as an appendix. The Draft TIP with any changes will be presented to the SJTPO Policy Board for adoption at the September 23, 2019 meeting.

Share With Those You Know!

The Dangers of Summertime Driving for Teens

The dangers of summertime driving are more deceptive compared to wintertime. Not only is there an influx of travelers headed to their vacation destinations, school is out of session too. When school is out, more teen drivers hit the road. Unfortunately for teen drivers, their limited driving experience and ability to become easily distracted makes them more vulnerable than any other age group on the road. Data indicates that from Memorial Day in May to Labor Day in September there is an increase in crashes involving teenagers, which is why this period is referred to as the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer.” According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), “over the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days.”

Due to their high likelihood of involvement in a motor vehicle crash, it is important to educate young drivers of the risks and responsibilities while behind the wheel. Mr. Wayne Shelton and Mr. Robert Clarke, SJTPO’s Traffic Safety Specialists advocate for teens and their parents to participate in Share the Keys, a program adopted by NJM Insurance Group and presented by Mr. Shelton and Mr. Clarke. As stated in the Share the Keys Resource Guide, “[Share the Keys] is a researched-based, data-driven orientation program designed to reduce teen driver crash risks through increased parental involvement.”

Of course, all drivers could use a refresher on driver safety, not just teens. Here at SJTPO, we offer an extensive array of safety education courses, our latest course being Defensive Driving. To learn more, or to request a program, visit our Traffic Safety Education webpage.

Awardees for Local Programs

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) recently released a list of projects selected for funding through the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program and the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside Program. Both programs are jointly administered by NJDOT and SJTPO, along with the SJTPO’s sister MPOs, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) in their respective regions.
 
The SRTS Program aims to encourage students to walk and bicycle to school through the planning, development and implementation of projects, and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution near schools. For the 2018 SRTS Program, five projects were submitted in the SJTPO region with three selected to receive federal funding. The town of Hammonton in Atlantic County was awarded $502,000 for sidewalks and ADA ramp improvements near the Sooy Elementary School. The West Cape May Borough Elementary School in Cape May County received $252,000 in federal grant money for pedestrian safety improvements. Ventnor City in Atlantic County was awarded $207,000 for the Ventnor School Safety Improvement Program project.

The TA Set-Aside Program provides federal funds for community based “non-traditional” projects designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of the nation’s transportation system. Of the fifteen projects submitted in the SJTPO region, three were selected to received funds totaling $1,531,000. In Atlantic County, Folsom Borough received $414,000 for the 13th Street Pedestrian Path. Also, in Atlantic County, the City of Linwood received $127,000 for the Linwood/Seaview Bike Path Extension. Then, in Downe Township, Cumberland County, $990,000 was awarded for the Newport Streetscape Improvement Project.

SJTPO anticipates NJDOT to open a new solicitation for grant applications prior to the end of the year. For convenience, the SJTPO webpages for SRTS and TAP denote whether applications are currently being accepted and will be updated as new information becomes available.

Spotlight Feature on Jennifer Marandino, Executive Director

Growing up, what were your aspirations?
I don't have memories from my early childhood where I fantasized about growing up and having a "cool" job. I do remember in middle school and high school enjoying math and science courses, and admiring my dad who was an engineer in my hometown. I also recall enjoying my summertime camp job and teaching swim lessons, which made me think I might pursue a career in education. Looking back, I think my career choice as an engineer best suits my personality. 

What is your favorite aspect of your job as Executive Director?
I enjoy the networking aspect - building connections with other transportation professionals and concerned citizens. I also like having the ability to shape the priorities of the Organization.

If you had two weeks to do as you pleased, what would you do? 
What a fun question. Anything I would do, would most certainly involve family and adventure. Maybe, we would explore a new place we have yet to visit. One thing's for sure, I don't do well with sitting for too long with nothing to do. 

What are three words that describe you? 
Compassionate, practical, and organized. Though at times, I feel you wouldn't know I'm organized from the papers littered on my desk. I think it's more organized chaos than anything.

Your family has Italian heritage. What is the most Italian thing you do? 
When I think of being Italian, I think of family and food. Almost every Sunday, my family, along with my parents, my brother and his family, and my extended family have a pasta dinner. It's always loud! And when our weekday schedule's allow for it, my family and my husband's family have dinner together as well. 

Meeting Reminders

 
Regional Transportation Plan (held during Citizens Advisory Committee meeting)
Regional Transportation Plan (final meeting)
Transportation Improvement Program
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