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Congestion Buster Task Force

Meeting Minutes

Delaware River Port Authorty - Camden, New Jersey

November 13, 2001

Welcome and Opening Remarks

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Jim Sinclair at 9:45 a.m.

Chairman Sinclair stated since the last CBTF meeting, he has had the opportunity to speak at a Committee for Smart New Jersey meeting. This group promotes Intelligent Transportation Systems. There is vast and ever-changing technology to assist in traffic management and help ease congestion. Some main points:
  • Sharing of traffic information, events and road conditions through variable message signs or other means can do much to ease congestion.
  • Movable barriers, when used at peak times, can reduce bottleneck areas.
  • Controlling the number of registered vehicles is not going to happen.
  • Governor-elect McGreevey wants to get all uninsured cars, estimated to be 150,000 in number, off the road.
  • The State of Florida ties auto insurance information into their motor vehicle computer system. New Jersey's motor vehicle data base does contain drivers suspended due to lack of insurance; there is significant time delay, however, in reporting this information.
  • Senate Bill 2708 was introduced and referred to Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on November 8, 2001. This bill requires four year digitized picture driver's licenses and permits enhanced data storage on licenses.
  • A real-time traffic information service that uses pagers has completed the testing phase. This service analyzes traffic and contacts the subscriber by pager when congestion occurs so they can modify their commute. This allows people to make smarter and more efficient travel choices.

Old Business

Bob Miller, Manager, NJDOT Bureau of Technical Analysis, made a presentation on World Trade Center Relocations and Transportation Impacts. The main points were as follows:
  • Over 30 million square feet of office space was destroyed or damaged
  • 30,000 fewer daily trips are being made into Manhattan
  • Forty two companies have relocated to New Jersey (as of November 2, 2001)
  • Of the relocated square footage accounted for, approximately 21% shifted to New Jersey
  • Hudson, Essex, Bergen and Morris counties received the most relocation
  • Other affected counties include Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Union
  • Tunnel and bridge crossings show a shift in vehicle numbers from 6-10 am to 5-6 am after the SOV ban went into effect
  • Ridership on midtown buses has stayed about the same
  • Ridership on Trans-Hudson ferries increased nearly 91%
  • Ridership on midtown PATH trains increased 87% causing a severe burden on this link
  • Commuter rail to Penn Station New York is carrying nearly 44% more passengers
Bob concluded his presentation by stating that identifying the transportation impacts is an evolving process. The next steps transportation officials need to do are:
  • Understand new travel patterns by working with TMAs and commuters
  • Analyze peak period traffic conditions
  • Investigate relocation sites for new congestion issues to see where adjustments need to be made; are new bus routes needed, for example
  • Compare issues to NJDOT Capital Program

Discussion ensued. The main points were:

Is there a viable alternative to rail and its accompanying capital needs?

Sen. Toricelli included $2 billion earmarked toward construction of a second commuter rail tunnel in a recent economic stimulus package.

Even if rail capacity increases, station parking remains a problem. Innovative ideas, such as valet parking, may create more spaces.

Does the continuation of the SOV ban into Manhattan have a positive impact on New Jersey congestion?

The current SOV ban into Manhattan is operating under an emergency power declaration; state legislation is needed is needed to make the ban permanent.

Flex-time/shifts in peak hour travel seems to be a winner. People prefer not to carpool.

Land use is an important consideration; transit options should be made available to employers and industry.

Variable pricing has a positive impact on shifting travel away from peak periods

Ferry service, once a reliever to PATH service, is coming back into its own. Ferries are the highest priced mode of transportation, but are very flexible in their response. They are privately operated and do not require operational subsidies. More ferries are expected to be put into service when Pier A opens.

New Business

Central Jersey Transportation Forum

Donald Shanis, Deputy Director, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, made a presentation on the Central Jersey Transportation Forum. This group arose from the Millstone Bypass CMS (Congestion Management System) study and provides a forum to identify and discuss major transportation and land-use issues in Central Jersey.

Representatives from 17 municipalities, 3 counties, state and federal government, local businesses and advocacy groups participate. Municipalities shared their "visions" and private sector panel discussions have been held.

Five key issues identified by the group are:

  1. East-west access - Millstone bypass and Route 92
  2. Transit and alternative modes
  3. Examined transit routes
  4. Analyzed level of service for routes
  5. Other issues - park-and-rides, pedestrian, TMA work
Goods movement - trucks on local roads; Turnpike Exit 8A distribution centers

Transportation/land-use planning

System-wide planning and coordination

Their findings generally show that high-speed transit is not viable; the region is not dense enough to warrant. Creative uses of express bus service should continue to be explored. Express bus service is more flexible than fixed routes, but still cannot go everywhere.

Four modeling scenarios for east-west access have been completed. The last one, land-use/transit, is now in progress. Once completed, the forum will prepare a "white paper" with findings and recommendations.

Although the future role of the forum is still undefined, it is hoped that through learning, smarter decisions will be made.

Goods Movement

Gail Toth, Executive Director, NJ Motor Truck Association, made a presentation on goods movement in New Jersey. Goods movement is a necessity for our economic well being. Facts to consider:

85% of all goods in transit move by truck

Our port, the 12th largest in the world, is estimated to triple in freight in the next ten years.

Truck ban in New Jersey has relegated all through traffic to federal highways. Large trucks (102"-width and doubles) are restricted to certain designated routes in New Jersey.

Gail stated that new security measures instituted since the events of September 11 have added 4-6 hours to domestic transport time and caused up to 12-hour delays at border crossings.

Congestion pricing plans may not achieve their desired effect as trucks must pick up and deliver in schedules set by their customers. Higher fees are passed on to customers or carriers may decide not to service areas or move to another road.

Many suggestions for reducing congestion in the goods movement sector were presented. The major points are:

Exclusive truck lane on NJ Turnpike, and in high-volume areas, including bridge and tunnel crossings

Additional port entrance and exits for trucks only from the Turnpike

Freight rail tunnel could ease some of the anticipated container traffic

Barge/ferry service for trucks

Better timing of traffic signals

Continue to identify key congestion points and implement corrective measures, such as overpasses on Route One

Utilize flashing signs or rumble strips to slow down vehicles on ramps

Enact legislation to allow motorists involved in minor accident with no injuries to move vehicles to the side of the road

Educate the public on sharing the road with trucks and buses

Encourage statewide planning to oversee development and anticipate its effects on the infrastructure. An example is the extensive building of distribution centers along Exits 7A - 8A of the Turnpike.

Organizational Items

Subcommittees were discussed. Chairman Sinclair distributed a committee matrix showing Task Force members' interest. He will complete committee assignments and appoint a chairperson for each subcommittee by the next meeting.

A one-page format will be circulated that every subcommittee could use as they do their work. Draft recommendations should start being prepared to discuss at the next meeting. For each recommendation, the following questions should be answered using the one-page format:
  • What is the recommendation
  • How would it reduce congestion
  • Who does it affect
  • How much would it cost
  • Would there be a cost savings in other areas
  • How would the recommendation be implemented
  • Is legislation required
Chairman Sinclair noted areas of recommendations that we know will be included in the Task Force's final work:
  1. How to get employers to work with TMAs to encourage ridsesharing, commute options and provide links where transit does not go. These recommendations should include incentives and disincentives and note what other support is needed by the TMAs.
  2. Land use
  3. Telecommuting - document what works and incorporate that into recommendations
  4. Flex-time
  5. Public Transit - is it an attractive alternative for people not going to New York City; recommendations should address capacity issues and educating employers about transit choices and availability
  6. Who shouldn't be driving during peak hours - an example is students
  7. Other recommendations to include goods movement, either in concert or parallel with commuter traffic; variable pricing & other traffic management.

Future meetings are scheduled as follows:

Tuesday December 11th at 2:30 p.m. at NJDOT (NOTE: Time Change)

Tuesday January 22nd at 9:30 a.m. at NJDOT

Tuesday February 19th at 9:30 a.m. at NJDOT

Tuesday March 19th at 9:30 a.m. at NJDOT

Tuesday April 23rd at 9:30 a.m. at NJDOT

Tuesday May 21st at 9:30 a.m. at NJDOT

The meeting adjourned at 12:05 p.m.


Task Force Members:

Chairman Jim Sinclair, NJBIA
Asst. Commissioner Pippa Woods
Ken Afferton, Edwards and Kelcey
Sandra Brillhart, Greater Mercer TMA
Lt. Col. Lee Cartwright, NJSP
Mike Egenton, NJ Chamber of Commerce
Jennifer Jaroski, TSTC
Barry Lem, L-3 Communications
Allan Lichtenstein, Rutgers - TPI
Hamou Meghdir
J.P. Miele, NJTA, CSNJ
Bill Ragozine, Cross County Connection TMA
Donald Shanis, DVRPC
Gail Toth, NJMTA

Invited Guests:

Sara Bluhm, NJBIA
Dotty Drinkwater, CSNJ

DOT Staff:

William Beetle
Noreen Cardinali
Talvin Davis
Debra Firman
Jim Lewis
Bob Miller
Adnew Tessema

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  Last Updated:  February 22, 2008