NJDOT Presents Somerville with Complete Streets Excellence Award

The Division Street pedestrian mall connects the downtown area with the NJ Transit train station. Credits: Rod Hirsch
The Peter Brook Greenway bicycle and pedestrian path winds its way through the borough, including residential neighborhoods. Credits: Rod Hirsch

SOMERVILLE, NJ - The borough has been recognized by the state Department of Transportation Complete Streets program for its long range planning program that incorporates enhanced opportunities for pedestrians and bicyclists while promoting safety.

The Complete Streets Excellence Awards were presented to Somerville and other municipalities at Rutgers University Oct. 24 by the NJDOT and the New Jersey Bicycle & Pedestrian Resource Center for projects and policies that demonstrate excellence in Complete Streets policy development or implementation.

“Somerville has been taking into account in our planning the Complete Streets principles, even before there was a Complete Streets program,” said Mayor Brian Gallagher.

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The borough submitted its entry for the recognition earlier this year.

“Somerville was already ahead of the curve,” Gallagher added. “It’s not just having safe sidewalks and roadways, it’s about having these greenway trails and connecting the community through a series of different links that encourage people to walk, run, hike and get out of their cars.”

Prior to the award ceremony at Rutgers, the DOT sent a crew to Somerville to film some of those elements incorporated by the borough over the years – the Division Street pedestrian Mall, which links the NJTransit train station to Main Street; the Peters Brook Greenway a pedestrian and bike path, which winds through the borough and the “Green Seam” landfill reclamation project, an 80-acre tract alongside the NJTransit tracks and fronting on Route 206, a portion of which is being developed as a passive park with a pedestrian walk and bicycle path.

The footage was incorporated into a film shown to the New Brunswick conference.

 The NJDOT has been recognized as a national leader for advancing Complete Streets policies, which promote safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and other users of New Jersey roadways.

NJDOT's program received the highest ranking among the more than 210 communities and states that have adopted formal Complete Streets policies, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition; New Jersey was one of the first ten states in the nation to make Complete Streets an official internal policy.

NJDOT finalized its Complete Streets policy in December 2009. The policy requires that future roadway improvement projects include safe accommodations for all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders and the mobility-impaired.

“The award puts us in a priority situation and perhaps give us an advantage in other grant areas we  may go after,” Gallagher said.

“It’s also public recognition that once again, Somerville is planning correctly,” he added.

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