There’s a lot going on today, transportation-wise, we can’t decide what to blog about. So we’re starting a new feature here at On the Move: the News Roundup. We welcome your comments, suggestions, and ideas on all of these issues — we really want to hear from you!
- ROUTE 1 JUGHANDLE: Did you attend NJDOT’s public meetings on the Route 1 jughandle closures a few weeks ago? There was a good deal of public outcry from both Princeton and West Windsor residents at the prospect of closing the Route 1 jughandles this March at Harrison Street and Washington Road. The proposal is an attempt on the part of DOT to relieve the backups of cars waiting to get through the interchanges during rush hours. The backups get so bad at peak times, it impedes the flow of traffic in the right lane reducing the capacity of the rest of the highway, but many public officials and citizens are concerned that the closures will dramatically overburden the roads that will remain open. The plot thickened today when a number of Princeton municipal officials, business leaders, and representatives from Princeton University and Princeton Healthcare System met with the DOT commissioner to ask for the trial project to be delayed (it was expected to begin in March and last for three months). The group requested that the trial be postponed until after Princeton hospital moves from downtown Princeton to Route 1 in Plainsboro, which is scheduled to happen in May.
- FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING: This important issue has been simmering down in D.C. and it’s a whopper. Last Friday the House Ways and Means Committee passed a vote that would dramatically change the way public transit is funded in the United States. The proposal would take away the 2.86 cents out of the total 18.4 cent motor fuel tax currently directed into the transit account of the Highway Trust Fund and redirect that 2.86 cents into highway spending.Transit would no longer have a guaranteed and protected funding source, instead becoming subject to yearly appropriations fights and the need to find offsets for funding. Meanwhile, highway spending would continue to be guaranteed with protected funds for five years at a time. Transit systems across the country stand to suffer under this plan; New Jersey Transit would lose about a third of its $1.16 billion budget under the plan, according to the Star-Ledger. This issue is in flux and changing every day; we’ll post links and updates as we have them.
- TRANSIT PARITY: With the Senate’s last piece of their two-year transportation reauthorization proposal being marked up by the Finance Committee today, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has sponsored an amendment that would restore parity between the pre-tax commuter benefits for transit and parking. There had been parity between transit and parking pre-tax benefits since the Stimulus Act was passed in 2009, but the transit benefit was slashed in half — from $230 a month to $125 — when the measure expired on January 1st. Schumer’s amendment would make the parity permanent.
- BIKING & WALKING IN PLAINSBORO AND HOPEWELL: The West Windsor Bike-Ped Alliance held two meetings this past week in their ongoing efforts to make our region more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. This week’s meetings were with residents of Hopewell Borough and Plainsboro. If you live or work in either of these communities, what kinds of changes would you like to see to make these towns more bike- and pedestrian-friendly? We want to hear from you.
- KIDS & CARS: Some interesting food for thought over at the New York Times today where the writer ponders the pluses and minuses of raising her kids in the woods. She asks herself, “Do I want my children to embrace our rural life, learning how to negotiate playtime with one another and how to find fun in the woods and the garden, or on the bookshelves and in the kitchen and playroom?” What do you think, On the Move readers?