A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.
-- Former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia
Infrastructure
Infrastructure

As the climate changes, local governments must prepare for greater wet weather events. Managing large volumes of stormwater will be an ongoing challenge.

Green infrastructure is a cost-effective solution to reduce combined sewer overflows which can impact public health; and flooding which threatens public safety and the economy. While green infrastructure offers multi-use benefits, it lacks a dedicated revenue stream. One idea is a fee on impervious property surface — such as rooftops, parking lots and driveways — that cause rainfall to run off into combined sewers, stormwater drains and local waterways.

New Jersey’s water systems must be addressed. According to the latest EPA Needs Surveys, New Jersey’s drinking water and wastewater systems require infrastructure investments of at least $8 billion and $17.5 billion, respectively, over the next 20 years to meet the water quality and public health goals of the Clean Water Act.

The recently passed Water Quality Accountability Act requires comprehensive assessment to ensure that water systems deliver the optimum level of service through sufficient investment and planned maintenance. Known as asset management, this requirement will force many utilities to make sizable investments to protect the health and welfare of the citizens of New Jersey.

Transportation is also key to the welfare and quality of life of New Jersey residents. The future of New Jersey’s economy relies on the efficient and sustainable movement of people and goods around the region, yet the transportation sector is state’s largest source of emissions. New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and New Jersey Transit (NJT) have critical roles to play in supporting vibrant communities and ending over-reliance on fossil-fuel dependent transportation.

At the same time, NJT’s operating budget is substantially underfunded. As a result, NJT has relied on capital-to-operating transfers, roughly $500 million annually, to fill the gap. This practice stifles NJT’s ability to engage in long-term planning and meet its capital needs. NJT needs a reliable, dedicated funding source for operating needs.

Train and transport centers will be the new hub. National studies reveal that about one-quarter of housing demand in the near future will be for residences within a half mile of train stations. Prioritizing Smart Growth land-use decisions that steer development to these places in and near existing communities will be key. A comprehensive approach to land use should provide technical and financial assistance to municipalities that redevelop around rail stations while prioritizing green infrastructure, green streets and parks to create healthy, walkable, vibrant communities known as Transit Oriented Development (TOD) areas.

Smart Growth also encompasses a complete streets policy that promotes safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and other users of New Jersey roadways through innovative bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. Despite adopting the policy in 2009, the state continues to be identified by the Federal Highway Administration as a "Pedestrian Focus State" due to its high rate of pedestrian casualties (twice the national average). From connecting sidewalks to creating safe bikeways, New Jersey can protect all residents, whether pedestrian, cyclist or commuter.

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Recommendations

  • Allow stormwater utilities and subsequent user fee collection to reduce flooding
  • Work with the legislature on asset management requirements for wastewater, drinking water and stormwater systems
  • Increase the budget for public transportation, set performance goals, and increase budgets for planning, operations and capital
  • Prioritize smart growth, green infrastructure, green streets, parks, municipal assistance and redevelopment around train stations
  • Incorporate bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in NJDOT capital projects

First 100 Days

Work with agencies on Water Quality Accountability Act implementation
Work with legislature to give DEP authority to require asset management of owner/operators of wastewater systems

First Year

Work with the Legislature to authorize the establishment of stormwater utilities and/or stormwater fees on a voluntary basis across the state
Address equity issues in fee allocation, including consideration of income or property value — similar to the city of Philadelphia model — that includes hardship exemptions to and/or grants to low-income households, seniors and other households reliant on fixed income
Provide technical assistance as necessary for municipalities
Advocate for federal funds, with priority on funding implementation of asset management plans
Increase funding to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust fund
Expand 100 percent principal forgiveness and interest-free loan programs to small communities for asset management to comply with the Water Quality Accountability Act and any other subsequent asset management and implementation requirements
Encourage NJDOT to make complete streets implementation a priority
Create a data-driven prioritization process to invest limited tax dollars in transportation projects with the highest merit
Use a scoring system (similar to that in the state of Virginia) to evaluate infrastructure projects based on potential benefits such as congestion relief, economic development and environmental impact

First Term

Direct NJT’s mission: "Improving access to more destinations for more people"
Increase funding to NJ Transit and identify dedicated sources for its operating budget
Set performance goals that measure safety and reliability of trains and buses, as well as environmental goals for reducing emissions and improving accessibility to mass transit, especially for low-income populations
Plan for the future of transportation in the state, including developing infrastructure to support electric vehicles, incorporating climate risk into decision making and planning, and exploring car-sharing opportunities that will reduce the large transportation carbon footprint
Ensure the Transportation Trust Fund is financed sustainably to minimize an over-reliance on long-term debt for short-term improvements
Establish a TOD specialty area within NJ Transit that works proactively with developers and municipalities to redevelop sites around train stations, and coordinates with NJDOT
Reinvigorate the Office of Smart Growth and ensure that it coordinates efforts with state agencies and works with cities and towns to achieve smart growth and redevelopment priorities
New Jersey LCV Education Fund greatly appreciates each organization’s contributions and valued expertise shared in this effort as well as the immeasurable commitment put forward to protecting New Jersey’s environment:

The American Littoral SocietyAssociation of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC)Clean Ocean Action (COA)ClimateMamaEnvironmental Defense Fund (EDF)GreenFaithHackensack RiverkeeperIronbound Community Corporation (ICC)Isles, Inc.Moms Clean Air ForceMonmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF)New Jersey AudubonThe NJ Clean Cities CoalitionNew Jersey Conservation FoundationNew Jersey FutureNew Jersey Highlands CoalitionNJ Work Environment Council (WEC)NY/NJ BaykeeperNew York-New Jersey Trail ConferencePinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA)Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA)ReThink Energy NJSave Barnegat BayStony Brook-Millstone Watershed AssociationThe Land Conservancy of New JerseyTri-State Transportation CampaignThe Trust for Public LandWilliam Penn FoundationGeraldine R. Dodge FoundationThe Fund for New Jersey

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