McGreevey to double number of Transit Villages
Governor, Acting Commissioner call
Metuchen Transit Village a model for smart
growth; Present borough with $600,000 for upgrades
(Metuchen) - Reinforcing his commitment to smart growth planning, Governor James E. McGreevey and Acting Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere today announced that the State will seek to double the amount of transit villages over the next year. They also presented the Borough of Metuchen with a $600,000 check for improvements to its transit village.
“In order to improve our quality of life and to combat sprawl, we must implement smart growth planning that includes the expansion of transit villages,” said McGreevey. “Over the next year, our goal will be to double the number of transit villages in New Jersey from seven to fourteen, with Metuchen being our first step.”
“We’re very pleased to present this check to the Borough of Metuchen,” said Lettiere. “Mayor O’Brien and Borough officials have not only made a strong commitment to the betterment of their community, but also to relieving congestion on our roads and improving safety for pedestrians. Transit Villages, like Metuchen’s, are an integral component for the Governor’s Smart Growth initiative.”
“Governor McGreevey’s visit to Metuchen to announce upgrades to our Transit Village status is greatly appreciated,” said Metuchen Mayor Ed O’Brien. “It will add to our efforts to promote our transportation hub not only for the people of Metuchen but for a large portion of Central Jersey who use our station.”
"As a former councilwoman and long-time resident of Metuchen, I've participated in promoting the township's long-standing commitment to ensuring pedestrian safety and promoting alternative means of transportation," said Senator Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex. "Metuchen has done much to make environmentally friendly modes of transportation like walking and bicycling viable choices for its citizens, and the money spent today by the state confirms that offering alternatives to automobile traffic benefits a municipality in so many ways."
“Residents in this small, commuter community already rely upon the train station to get to and from work,” said Barnes, D-Middlesex. “Creating a transit village around the existing Metuchen Train Station will increase residents’ access to the station and increase train ridership. Like most of Middlesex County, Metuchen struggles with traffic congestion on a daily basis. Encouraging residents to use public transportation would get cars off the road but help people travel to work, to school, or to visit friends and family.”
“Metuchen’s charm lies within its historic houses and quaint downtown district,” said Diegnan, D-Middlesex. “Once created, the transit village would preserve the town’s historic ambiance while addressing its traffic congestion problem. This generous state grant will help move construction of the transit village along without placing any additional burden on Metuchen commuters or residents. It is a win-win situation for the town and those who call it home.”
The State’s Transit Village Program:
The State’s Transit Village program partners communities with 10 State agencies to help implement redevelopment and smart growth goals. The $600,000 awarded to the Borough today will fund the follow measures: flashing pedestrian crosswalk signals; traffic calming improvements for Central Avenue; bike lanes; pedestrian bridge for Myrtle Park; three new bus shelters; and new bike racks.
The Transit Village program is designed to spur economic development, urban revitalization and private-sector investment around passenger rail stations. A designated Transit Village is a community with a bus, train, light rail or ferry station that has developed a plan to achieve its goals.
A municipality must demonstrate a commitment to smart growth planning and transit-oriented development, as well as a commitment to maintain the architectural history of the area, and create housing, cultural and commercial opportunities within walking distance of the facility.
Metuchen joins seven other municipalities that have the Transit Village designation. The other municipalities are Morristown, Pleasantville, Rutherford, South Amboy, South Orange, Riverside and Rahway.
The Transit Village initiative seeks to provide much-needed congestion relief on New Jersey roadways through the promotion of public transit expansion and partnerships with the private sector. Municipalities designated as Transit Villages will be given priority consideration for funding and technical assistance by the participating agencies.
Other participating agencies include, the NJ Commerce and Economic Growth Commission, NJ Department of Community Affairs, NJ Redevelopment Authority, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, NJ State Council on the Arts, NJ Economic Development Authority, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the NJ Office of Smart Growth.
The Governor’s Commitment to Combating Sprawl:
In his State of the State address, Governor McGreevey outlined ways the State can help target new development to urban centers and older suburbs, control sprawl, and protect the State’s most valuable natural resources, including:
- Preserving 20,000 acres of farmland a year to preserve rural areas.
- Creating or upgrading 200 local parks and adding at least two state parks in the next three years and planting 100,000 new trees across the Garden State.
- Devoting at least an additional $100 million over the next three years—a 15 percent increase—to open space protection in areas such as the Highlands.
- Creating an incentive for conservation by implementing a limited time capital gains tax waiver for landowners who sell their property to the State’s open space program.
The Governor also stated his unequivocal commitment to combating over-development and sprawl by giving local governments the power they need to fight developers and protect their residents, including:
- Empowering towns with the legal and zoning tools to control and manage future development.
- Allowing municipalities to impose a one-year building moratorium.
- Establishing impact fees so that developers, not taxpayers, bear the burdens for the cost of new roads and schools.
- Making county and regional planning authorities more effective and professional since the negative impacts of development are not limited to the boundaries of individual towns.