NEWARK – Somerset County Freeholder Deputy Director Peter S. Palmer has been was elected chairman of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

“I am honored that my fellow Board members have chosen me to again serve as chair of the NJTPA,” said Palmer, who previously was chair from 2004 to 2006. “This is a critical time for transportation in our region, particularly the Gateway trans-Hudson project.

Our economy is rebounding, and we must support it by addressing our growing infrastructure needs. I look forward to working with the Board and all our partners to improve our critical transportation systems,” he added.

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The NJTPA oversees regional transportation planning and annually authorizes more than $1 billion in federal surface transportation funding for 13 counties in northern and central New Jersey.

Palmer has been an NJTPA trustee since 1999. He is also the founder and chair of the NJTPA’s Freight Initiatives Committee, which works with transportation agencies, the private sector and county and municipal governments to improve goods movement in the NJTPA region. It serves as a forum for discussion of critical freight-related issues.

His term as NJTPA chairman will last two years, ending in January 2018.

Palmer joined the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1997. Before being elected to county government, he served as mayor, councilman and a school board member in Bernardsville.

He has been recognized on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for 50 years of continuous public service.

A passionate rail advocate, Palmer is also the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, a non-profit, bi-partisan group of Raritan Valley Line riders, municipal elected officials and representatives from the counties of Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex and Union.

In that capacity, he has been a vocal proponent of the need for additional passenger rail capacity under the Hudson River.