The City of New Brunswick has received a feasibility report regarding the establishment of a “road diet” on a portion of Livingston Avenue. The report was prepared by the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University.
A road diet is a road design that can improve roadway safety for all users with no or minimal loss of service on the road by creating a vehicle travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane to accommodate turning traffic without backing up through traffic and the addition of bicycle lanes and pedestrian improvements to increase safety for all users.
The study found:
· A road diet on an urban street like Livingston Avenue is likely to reduce crashes by 19 percent
· The travel time on the street will be increased slightly, but this is a good thing as the vast majority of cars on the street are now speeding
· The travel delay times are not significant and will not reduce the level of service on the street to unacceptable levels
· The cost/benefit of doing the road diet is heavily weighted towards the benefits as the added travel time cost is minimal and the cost savings from less loss of life and injury is substantial
Since Livingston Avenue is a County road, the City’s next step towards implementing a road diet is to work with the Middlesex County Engineer’s Office to develop a concept plan, project budget and design plans for a road diet. To that end, the City’s Engineering and Planning staffs have been meeting with the County Engineer to move forward on this next step.
“The health of our communities and the safety of our residents is always a priority,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Charles E. Tomaro, chair of the County Infrastructure Management Committee. “So anything we can do to make our roads safer and more accessible should be considered.”
New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill stated that “initiatives such as a road diet for Livingston Avenue are part of the City’s effort to make New Brunswick as “walkable” and healthy a city as possible. Through efforts such as this road diet, we hope to improve safety for all road users – motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and people of all ages. The City adopted a Complete Streets policy in May 2012 and has undertaken multiple projects to ‘complete the street’ including installing bike lanes and sharrows, flashing pedestrian crosswalks and daylighted intersections. In 2014, we will see the start of construction of the New Brunswick Bikeway from the College Avenue Campus, through the downtown district and on to the Douglass Campus with a dedicated bike lane. Additionally, a dedicated bike lane is scheduled for construction on Suydam Street and a flashing crosswalk will be installed at the intersection of Suydam Street and Throop Avenue during the spring of this year.”
Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios said: “The County recognizes New Brunswick’s unique position as not only a residential town, but one that welcomes a huge influx of students, commuters and visitors, all of whom have different needs. I applaud Mayor Cahill and the City Council for taking steps to help improve the safety of all those who use our roads, whether they are driving, walking, biking or crossing them.”
The Livingston Avenue Road Diet Feasibility Study was funded through a grant from the Rutgers Community Partnership Grant Program. The $25,000 grant to the Voorhees Transportation Institute allowed the traffic planners at Voorhees, led by Professor Robert Noland, to collect data about how the street operates now and to run computer models as to how a road diet would change how traffic flows on the street.
The Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) seeks to lead an informed public discussion of transportation policy issues. In the context of New Jersey as a living laboratory, VTC is committed to conducting research and finding innovative approaches to transportation problem solving. Through its research, VTC identifies and explores transportation linkages to other public policy areas, such as economic development, land use, political governance, finance and social policy.
The report can be viewed on the City’s website at: http://thecityofnewbrunswick.org/planninganddevelopment/livingston-ave-road-diet/