This morning, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) held their monthly Regional Technical Committee meeting to announce updates on the recently-completed 30-day public comment period on the Draft Connections 2050 Long-Range Plan, and the Draft DVRPC FY2022 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for New Jersey with recommended changes. Recently, the Bicycle Coalition, Circuit Trails Coalition, and others, analyzed the plan, met with DVRPC and created a list of recommendations and changes to the Long-Range Plan.
We can now report that thanks to your advocacy, key plan changes were addressed and adopted by DVRPC’s Board of Directors and will be written into the new draft of the Connections 2050 Plan.
Last week, we asked you to read the recommendations suggested by the Circuit Trails Coalition to strengthen the 2050 Connections Plan with the following recommendations to DVRPC, which were as follows:
- The Plan should have an explicit commitment to fully fund both the completion of the Circuit Trails and safe neighborhood bicycle/pedestrian connections that will allow anyone in the Region to safely access the Circuit in the next twelve years.
- Program $60M annually from the Surface Transportation Program to Bicycle/Pedestrian projects.
- Commit to the 500 miles of Circuit Trails by 2025 and accelerate the completion of Circuit Trail projects to meet the goal.
- Commit to spending 17% of new transportation road dollars on Bike/Ped projects.
- Place Philadelphia’s High Quality Bicycle Network as one project on the PA TIP.
- Support the Regional Vision Zero Target goal of zero traffic deaths by 2050.
The following is a slide from DVRPC’s presentation this morning, noting your comments:
Thanks to your efforts, DVRPC received a total of 492 comments with 219 of those comments sent on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Circuit Trails Coalition!
Brett Fusco, Manager of Long-Range Planning who provided this update noted that this was the highest number of comments received to date on any Long-Range Plan. Additionally, DVRPC received the following comments, virtually all of which had similar goals. Special thanks to 5th Square for encouraging comments, as well.
There remains alignment between the frequent comments received and the Plan based on the total number of comments received. The list below covers those areas that remain a priority for the regions vision and future goals:
- Focus on system preservation
- Expansion of transit, bike and pedestrian facilities
- Very limited roadway system expansion
- Linking land use and transportation
- Vision Zero goal and strategies
- Respond to climate change through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and infrastructure resiliency
- Focus on more equitable investments and transportation access
Following the suggested comments and the current goal and vision for the region brought the following key plan changes to the Connections 2050 Long-Range Plan’s Process & Analysis Manual and the Policy Manual:
Process & Analysis Manual:
- More clearly noting that Circuit Trail projects can advance into the TIP as ‘illustrative’ projects
- Added description of all federal and state funding types and their eligible uses
- Discussion about challenges in delivering bike and pedestrian projects
- Clarify the financial plan (Non-major regional projects in TIP, separate roadway and transit budgets, year-of-expenditure monies)
- Note that the Plan shapes the pipeline of projects and regional planning agenda
- Notes where more work needs to be done
In addition to the recommended suggestions you sent to DVRPC for the Circuit Trails and bike and pedestrian facilities was an important update to the section titled Safety Accommodate Walking, Biking, Transit, and Transportation Network Users of All Abilities.
This section originally listed plans to design all projects with system safety principles, and use traffic calming, reduced travel lane widths, roundabouts, road diets, lower speed limits and improve safety and operations, slow traffic and enhance bikeability and walkability. By including the Vision Zero policy to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2050 in the list of recommendations, the Plan will now include automated traffic enforcement to that list in order to keep this vision on track.
Moving over to the Draft DVRPC FY2022 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for New Jersey are two big updates that came to be thanks to you submitting comments in early August until August 23rd.
In Burlington County, the Rancocas Creek Greenway – Laurel Run Park is one of the 12 new projects added to the NJ TIP. In Gloucester County, the recommended changes to the TIP include adding the Multi-Purpose Trail Extension of the Glassboro Elk Trail back into the TIP totaling $3.9 million and an update to the TIP project description to reflect this change. Of the 85 individuals who submitted written comments, 62% of those responses were combined requests for Circuit Trails Funding and inclusion of safety and bicycle and pedestrian elements in TIP projects.
We cannot thank you enough for your efforts in supporting the Circuit Trails Coalition and the Bicycle Coalition’s recommendations to reach 500 miles of completed trails by 2025, improvements to the bike/ped facilities throughout the region and moving one step closer to the regional Vision Zero target goal of zero traffic deaths by 2050.
We will keep you posted on updates as the DVRPC Long-Range Planning team will be implementing the recommendations to the Connections 2050 Long-Range Plan. If you’re able to attend the next DVRPC Regional Technical Committee meeting, it will be held on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 with your recommendations and updates written into the Draft Connections 2050 Plan.