NJDOT’s Website: Cams and Maps

Speak Out on Traffic

Cut Commuting Costs, Boost Health

Safe Ride Home

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the

September 24, 2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Roadside Survival

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NJDOT’s Website: Cams and Maps

Somewhat defensively, the New Jersey Department of

Transportation

(NJDOT) introduces its newly enhanced website by stating: "Our

job at NJDOT is to help, not hinder motorists as they travel New

Jersey’s

roadways." The website is indeed a help, and, what’s more, is

fun to play around with. Its address is

www.state.nj.us/transportation

but a far faster way to access it is to simply type "NJDOT"

into Google.

Using up-to-the minute technology, the interactive site provides a

real time, bird’s eye view of what is happening on all of the state’s

major roadways — and on local streets too. Look for the "Real

Time Traffic Information" icon to find the best maps and traffic

cams.

Strangely, there is another link, "New Traffic Cams," that

doesn’t appear to be working. It is helpful only in that it lists

the roads now covered by traffic cams — Routes 1, 4, 18, 29, 42,

and 73, and Interstates I-76, I-80, I-95, and I-287. The section looks

promising at first, showing, for example, all of the cameras on Route

1 as both big, red balls on a map and as addresses. But on a recent

sunny morning, camera after camera showed rain-covered roadways

despite

a notation declaring that the shots are updated every 30 to 60

seconds.

It may have been a temporary glitch, but in any case, the Real Time

Traffic Information section is more comprehensive. It is broken into

two major sections, "Live Traffic Reports" and "Live

Traffic

Cameras."

On the left-hand side of the Live Traffic Reports section there is

a list of potential trouble spots, with icons denoting the nature

of the problem — construction or an accident — and the

severity

of the delays, with orange indicating minor and red major. A pull-down

menu allows visitors to view only major delays or to view every

traffic

jam.

On the right-hand side of this section, there is a map. It is the

coolest thing on the site. It can show travel conditions for the

entire

state, or for any section of the state. Take a look at the full view,

and a traffic accident near Atlantic City, shows up. Anyone traveling

in that direction can zoom in to pinpoint the site exactly. The map

provides views at the state, city, and street level.

The Live Traffic Cameras section also has a left/right split, with

the left-hand side providing text addresses of all of the state’s

traffic cameras, and the right-hand site featuring that same

interactive

map, but this time overlaid with video cam icons. Click on either

an address or a map icon and a real-time picture of the roadway comes

up in a little window. This section of the site brings home that fact

that for a small state, New Jersey has an awful lot of major roads.

There are more than 70 cameras picking up traffic 24/7.

The greater Princeton area is well covered. Cameras are watching all

of the major Route 1 intersections, including Scudders Mill Road,

Independence Way, Alexander Road, Quakerbridge Road, Baker’s Basin,

and Interstate 295. There are also cameras on Route 29 at six points,

including Cass, Lalor, and Lamberton streets, and at Route 18 at

Edgeboro

Road and at the New Jersey Turnpike. But the eastern section of

central

New Jersey is not covered as well. There are no eyes pointed at or

near Hightstown, Cranbury, or Robbinsville. Nor is there isn’t much

coverage of the Garden State Parkway for shore-bound residents either.

In addition to help for motorists who tend to stay in-state, the

NJDOT’s

website links to sources of information on nearby destinations. In

its EZPass section, it is possible not only to buy the express

toll-paying

devices, and to reload them, and check their balances, but also to

link to at least two Smartraveler sites.

One, complete with an interactive map, gives detailed traffic updates

from Interstate 295 in western New Jersey, through Philadelphia,

including

the areas around Center City and the airport, and into Delaware. Click

on any portion of a roadway shown on the map, and its current traffic

condition is shown.

Another Smartraveler site, this one from the Delaware Valley Regional

Planning Commission, features information on conditions at Delaware

River Crossings, and on New Jersey interstates, Mercer County, Bucks

County, and many other areas. One especially helpful section lists

Events this Month. Arranged by date and time, it details the locations

of upcoming sports events, concerts, festivals, and other

road-clogging

happenings.

For those who are leaving the car behind, NJDOT’s website provides

complete bus and train timetables — and even throws in a video

on how to read them. There are detailed timetables for drawbridge

openings throughout the state, which are primarily useful for

mariners,

but also serve as alerts for drivers. In addition to serving motorists

and boaters, the site offers a section for bicyclists. There is also

information on carpooling, ride sharing, and the weather.

Impressive as an easy-to-use information source, the NJDOT site is

a good mood elevator, too. Check in after the morning commute on Route

1, and no matter how much traffic there was, a check of NJDOT’s cams

quickly shows that the jams are generally bigger — and more

stubborn

— in the northern half of the state.

Top Of Page
Speak Out on Traffic

Everybody has something to say about clogged roads and

crowded trains. An opportunity to express frustrations and suggest

solutions is taking place on Wednesday, October 22, at 6 p.m. at

Rutgers’

Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, at Civic

Square, 33 Livingston Avenue.

The meeting is part of a series established by Governor McGreevey’s

executive order establishing the Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission

to examine and make recommendations on the pressing transportation

issues facing New Jersey over the next 10 years. The commission is

charged with providing a final report of recommendations to the

governor

by the end of the year. The report will then be made public.

At the October 22 meeting, anyone can submit verbal or written

comments

to the commission, which asks that verbal comments be limited to five

minutes. Those who are unable to attend, and present their views for

five minutes, can still get their five cents in. Written input is

being accepted at BRTC@dot.state.nj.us. and at Box 600, Trenton,

08625-0600.

For more information, call Anna Farneski at 609-530-4280.

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Cut Commuting Costs, Boost Health

In an effort to get New Jersey commuters involved in

a healthy commute, the Greater Mercer Transportation Management

Association

(GMTMA) has introduced Workout to Work — a customized commute

incentive program that promotes bicycle riding as a primary means

of commuter transportation. The program, while designed to relieve

traffic-related congestion, primarily proposes a healthy alternative

to sitting in a car on a daily basis.

Workout to Work is geared toward commuters who live within five to

ten miles of the worksite or public transit. Upon registration,

participants

are provided with commuter tips, a customized map of their commuting

area, suggested routes, discount coupons, and safety information.

Participants are given further incentive to track their miles on a

monthly basis and submit them for a monthly drawing featuring prizes

donated by local merchants and healthcare professionals.

Registration and mile tracking can be done online at www.gmtma.org

Recent studies show that 15 percent of the average American’s annual

income is spent on transportation-related costs — an expense that

exceeds that of annual food costs. Officials have also found that

tail pipe emissions are the number one source of air pollution in

the country. Pollution levels are found to be higher for short car

trips because cars emit three times more pollution at ignition.

Because

the program is geared toward commuters who live close to the worksite,

the goal is to reduce high-toxin, short-commute emission levels.

Biking or walking to work helps reduce the risk of coronary heart

disease, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It also

helps in controlling weight, relieving depression, and developing

healthy bones, muscles, and joints. For more information visit

www.gmtma.org

or call 609-452-1491.

Top Of Page
Safe Ride Home

There are lots of reasons why commuters don’t want to

leave their cars at home and travel to work via bus, train, or

carpool.

One of the biggest is a fear that they will be stuck should the school

nurse call or a toothache strike. Another worry is that a late client

call or an urgent request from the boss will mean a missed ride.

Keep Middlesex Moving (KMM) is easing that fear so that more people

will consider mass transit or ridesharing. The organization has

announced

Emergency Ride Home.

To qualify for the program, the commuter must work in Middlesex or

Monmouth County, and travel to work by carpool, vanpool, or mass

transit

at least once a week. Once registered, the commuter is entitled to

three free rides home per year in instances of unexpected overtime

or personal emergency.

One early member of the Emergency Ride Home network is Christine

Budrik, who uses public transportation to travel from Howell to

Marlboro each day. She is quoted by KMM as saying, "There have

been times when I got stuck at work without transportation home. I

also have had family emergencies and had to take taxis great distances

at a considerable expense. The Emergency Ride Home put my mind at

ease, knowing that I could get a ride in an emergency."

KMM worked with Enterprise Rent-a-Car and A-1 Limousine to set up

the system. It offers commuters two options: a rental car for one

day or a trip home via A-1.

Commuters interested in learning more can call KMM at 732-745-4368

or can visit the organization’s website at www.kmm.org

— Kathleen McGinn Spring


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