UNION COUNTY, NJ — Union County is working on a new transportation master plan that will provide the framework for transportation planning and investment for the county and its municipalities. The new plan, which will be completed by June, will be conducted by the Bureau of Transportation Planning, Division of Strategic Planning and Intergovernmental Relations in the Department of Economic Development.
The new plan will focus on new infrastructure for rail, bus, car, bike and pedestrian travel.
According to Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski, the county’s growing population necessitates the change. “This was last done in 2002 and it needs to be done again,” said Kowalski of the plan. “We need improvements in transportation and infrastructure. We are glad people are moving to Union County, but we need to accommodate them.”
According to Amy Wagner, Director of Economic Development for Union County, there have been several meetings and input has been welcomed from both experts and residents of the county.
“Some of the issues we need to deal with are roadway congestion, the condition of those roadways, lack of parking at train stations, and a bike infrastructure that is safer for bikers,” said Wagner. “Parking is huge, congestion is huge. People have expressed needs for improved bus routes and connectivity.”
Wagner said that there is currently a draft for the plan in place, although the information is still being vetted. “We expect to be implementing this plan through to about 2030. We need to consider what the population will be, what technology will be.”
Funding for the plan will be provided by the North Jersey Transportation Authority and Union County and, according to Kowalski, feedback is generated from several sources. “We’ve had input from the Department of Transportation, the Transportation Advisory Board, and representatives from every town,” said Kowalski. “We have surveys up on our website for the public, and we get input from each municipality.”
According to Wagner, the plan also serves to identify ongoing issues that need to be addressed, thus bringing in much-needed funding. “What we put in that plan often provides funding for things that need to be done,” Wagner said.
The plan will include a transit map for residents to plan trips on the extensive railroad and bus network that currently serves the county. In addition, an electronic version will be made available on the county website for easy access to updates on service changes.
Kowalski said that the needs of residents are priority. “We’re interested in what the public has to say,” Kowalski said. “We need to come up with the best possible plan. This will impact people’s lives every day. Transportation is the backbone of the County.”
Residents are also encouraged to participate in an online transportation survey — available on the county website —where they can register their views on the transportation infrastructure in their communities and list areas they would like to see targeted for improvement. The survey is open until April 30.
For additional information, please visit www.ucnj.org.