RARITAN TWP., NJ – It’s called Plan 2045: Connecting North Jersey. The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority calls its effort a “long-range transportation plan that covers at least 20 years.”
A public meeting about the plan, with an opportunity for the public to provide input, will be held at 6 p.m. May 25 in Building One at the Hunterdon County Complex on Route 12 here, adjacent to the headquarters branch of the Hunterdon County Library.
Although NJTPA is federally funded, the transportation policy-making group is actually an affiliate of New Jersey Institute of Technology. Under federal law, planning groups such as NJTPA are required to update long range plans every four years. The NJTPA adopted its current transportation plan in 2013.
The plan is driven by NJTPA data, which shows the region’s population will grow by 17 percent from 6.7 million to 7.7 million by 2045. That growth will require additional housing, jobs and transportation, according to NJTPA.
The number of people employed in the region will increase 13 percent, from 3 million to 3.4 million, leading more people to rely on transit for their commutes. NJTPA cites statistics that show fewer young people are driving, and that they instead rely on mass transit, “placing further demand on a system that is already operating close to capacity,” according to the Plan 2045: Connecting North Jersey website.
The region’s transportation infrastructure is aging. NJTPA reports that by 2045, many of the nearly 4,900 bridges in the region will be nearing the end of their life expectancy, requiring a significant investment to maintain those critical connectors.
One challenge is that “standard public meetings increasingly cannot be relied upon to effectively gauge community interests and concerns.” That’s what NJTPA Executive Director Mary K. Murphy told her group at a board meeting last year.
Young people in particular, Murphy said, rarely attend such meetings. She said relying on outreach kiosks at malls and museums and effective use of social media could be keys to better reaching that group.
NJTPA also offers a series of brief surveys on its website.
The NJTPA video inlcudes remarks by Hunterdon Freeholder Matt Holt and East Amwell resident James Hughes, who is Dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers.