Integrated Land Use and Transportation Planning
The impacts of “sprawl,” including unwanted traffic, are taking their toll on communities throughout New Jersey. Stand-alone subdivisions, single-use office centers, strip malls and big box retail centers continue to consume our landscape. At the same time, this type of development scenario increases our dependency on cars for the simplest errands, adding trips to an already overburdened roadway system.
Transportation professionals and agencies now recognize that we can no longer ignore other potential solutions and continue trying to simply build our way out of this problem with more or bigger roads. They are too costly disrupt communities and in the end, fails to address the problem, that is, expanded roads trigger new development. They eventually fill up with more cars. Greater investment and reliance on transit, biking and walking is the transportation antidote to expanded roads and continued sprawl.
But these transportation options alone will not solve the problem because land development and the pattern, intensity and mix of activities, in particular, are the prime determinants of travel demand and the effectiveness of alternative travel modes. To this end, communities must be equipped with new planning solutions to help address this challenging and complex issue.
In November 2007, the Municipal Land Use Center at The College of New Jersey (MLUC), renamed the Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey (The Institute) in 2012, received a grant from NJDOT to bring together transportation and land use decision-making in the arena of local planning and community design. The planning framework for this integrated approach is the Mobility and Community Form Pilot Program (MCF), and includes:
- Local planning approaches such as unified land use and circulation elements in master planning
- Creating mutually reinforcing plans and regulations between local development controls and state access controls
- Creation of community visions and their translation to new zoning, particularly Form-Based Code (FBC) which focuses on physical form over use and local grid networks for all travel modes
Seven municipalities have partnered with MLUC and NJDOT to work on local land use and transportation solutions. They were selected from diverse locations in the State, with varying degrees of urban development and roadway and transit network and services. Each community represented its own growth objectives, vision for the future and desired character. These communities are: Town of Dover, Hammonton, Mt. Holly, Upper Township, Montclair Township, North Arlington, and Edison.
The Institute has worked to:
- Set the direction for the MCF program
- Partner with each demonstration community to frame the issues and the work needed to meet its particular needs and expectations
- Secure technical consultant services for the established issues; and broker the combined technical and community processes toward the desired outcomes
- Extract case studies and lessons learned from its experiences with these communities.
The Institute also investigates, with others, the options for creating additional methods for local communities to advance integrated land use and transportation, including promotion of complete streets, bicycle and pedestrian audits and plans.