March/April 1999, p.9

Metropolitan

New York

This Highway Ain't Big Enough
New York State has applied to the Federal government to turn an existing state highway into a new interstate highway, I-86. The state wants to upgrade all of Route 17, from the Pennsylvania border to the NY Thruway in Orange County, into I-86. Currently a four-lane highway for most of its length, Route 17 not only has intersections with traffic signals, but also travels through a significant portion of farmland and sensitive areas such as the Catskills Mountains.

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The Bronx Talks Transport
On Feb. 10, over 100 people representing community groups, civic organizations and businesses, joined the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC), NYSDOT, and other professionals to discuss transportation issues affecting The Bronx. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign and NYMTC organized "The Bronx Town Hall on Transportation" to provide a forum for information sharing and dialogue among the borough's citizens and the agencies responsible for directing transportation policy. T.A.'s Ellen Cavanagh gave a presentation on the Safe Routes to School Program, a project funded by The Bronx Borough President's Office. Safe Routes is currently working with 30 schools in The Bronx to improve conditions around the schools to make walking to and from school safer for students.

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New Jersey

Warning: Walking May Be Hazardous to Your Health
Walking in the Garden State was deadlier in 1998 than 1997, with pedestrian fatalities reaching 157 from 144, according to preliminary statistics collected by the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. The 9% increase in pedestrian deaths contrasts with a 4.2% decrease in total traffic-related deaths, and directly opposes Governor Whitman's stated goal, issued last May, of cutting pedestrian deaths by half. Nevertheless, the figure is an improvement over the 1990 - 1998 average of 174 pedestrian deaths per year, perhaps as a result of modest NJDOT spending on municipal pedestrian safety initiatives. The State is reviewing the use of Federal safety funds, which, if used properly, may achieve the Governor's hoped-for reduction.

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Building a Bridge to More Sprawl
Despite growing media attention to the problem of suburban sprawl, New Jersey is literally paving the way to more sprawl with the expansion of three bridges spanning the Raritan River. Work being done on the Driscoll, Edison and Victory bridges would add five new through-lanes and nine new shoulder lanes to the 20 lanes that now cross the river. Construction would allow more cars to pass to Monmouth and Ocean, two of the state's fastest-growing counties, further encouraging ever more car-dependent development. Ignoring the sprawl implications of their decisions, regulatory agencies have approved the bridge expansions.

Let Them Stand Up
Public transit in New Jersey is due to take a hit in Governor Whitman's year 2000 State budget, suffering a funding decrease of $45.2 million. The spending reduction seems to penalize NJ Transit for its success in drawing people out of their cars and onto trains and buses. Transit ridership has risen 22% since 1991, and in 1998 NJ Transit served 200 million riders, 3.5% more than in 1997 and its seventh consecutive annual increase. As a result of funding cuts, the transit system will not be able to implement service increases that could ease over-crowding and lure more residents onto public transportation.

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