Barbara E. Kauffman, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Newark Regional Business Partnership, explained that stake-holders started having conversations with each other about whether Newark could be a model of transportation in the future.
This discussion took place Friday at the Newark Regional Business Partnership’s Insiders Forum Imagining the Future of Transportation for Downtown Newark at the offices of Public Service Electric & Gas.
New Jersey Transit is looking to leverage technology to inform customers about up-to-the-second updates on trains and busses, Kauffman said. And the Newark Downtown Circulation Improvement Study evaluates the downtown street network and envisions improvements designed to keep Newark economically competitive while providing a safe and efficient transportation experience.
Kauffman said consultants work closely with clients by understanding their needs. “There have been a lot of conversations around the synchronization of trucks.”
Kimberly Singleton, manager of the Division of Traffic & Signals for the City of Newark, said Newark is currently seeing developers adding commercial and mixed-use developments. He further discussed the downtown circulation study, saying that the city moved forward with the surge of development and needs to retain a consultant on how to deal with, and recommend on, the growth.
“Our mission is to lower the fatality rates of pedestrians,” Singleton said.
Louis Luglio, of Sam Schwartz Engineering, said consultants are as good as the clients who pay them. He discussed the downtown circulation study, calling it dear to all Newark residents and visitors. The data-driven study, conducted in 1989, 2005, and in 2019, identifies improved pedestrian, bicycle, vehicle, and transit opportunities that balance demand across all modes, improve transportation equity, and maximize the use of available resources. The study provides analysis and involves stakeholders.
“The main premise of this study is to balance vehicle traffic versus pedestrian and bicyclists,” Luglio said. “The goal is to determine what roadway improvements would be best to improve roads from a safety and efficiency standpoint.”
The study is considering reducing motor vehicle lanes on some roads and designating them for pedestrians, Luglio said.
Driver, and driver-less, vehicles
Eric Rensel, vice president and transportation planning practice leader for infrastructure and engineering firm Gannett Fleming, facilitated the discussion. He helps clients define how the fourth industrial revolution will impact their businesses.
Another aspect of fixing transportation is overcoming the psychological difficulty of motor vehicles that do not have a human driver.
Laurie Matkowski, connected and automated vehicle services director at infrastructure and engineering firm Gannett Fleming, discussed highway automation. She said the starting point is examining the movement of people. She gave a report about how states are preparing for automated vehicles and autonomous vehicles.
Lazar Spasovic, director of the International Intermodal Transportation Center at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, discussed technology in transportation. Spasovic said NJIT applied for a research grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation. “We as users rely on our smartphones to do lots of things: banking, auctions on eBay, and scheduling our travel. We are striving to connect Newark travelers,” Spasovic said.
Another priority for improving Newark’s transportation is helping pedestrians move around Newark Penn Station and the Prudential Center. The city of Newark’s next step is determining funding sources.