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APRIL 2023

Transportation and Climate

Opportunities and resources to support climate action at the local level

Transportation is major contributor to global warming emissions such as carbon dioxide and the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the U.S and in New Jersey. Within the transportation sector passenger vehicles that operate on gasoline or diesel are the largest emitters of GHGs. Reducing the use of single occupancy vehicles is critical to limiting warming and the negative impacts of climate change. While transportation emissions affect everyone, disadvantaged communities, including predominantly communities of color and low-income communities, bear the greatest consequences from the effects of climate change. Local government along with all other levels of government can take immediate steps to change how we get around by investing in sustainable transportation.

The federal government and NJ have shared goals to decarbonize the transportation system which will in turn produce climate co-benefits such as improved air quality, community health, and safety, and reduced travel time, congestion, and noise pollution. The federal government is committed to a 50% reduction in US emissions by 2030, and a net-zero economy by 2050, and is working to ensure that at least 40% of climate investment benefits go to disadvantaged communities. NJ’s plans are closely aligned as the state seeks to reduce emissions by 50% from 2006 by 2030 and 80% from 2006 by 2050.

Traffic on New Jersey Turnpike

Reducing emissions from transportation involves making travel more efficient, reducing the overall amount of vehicle travel, and deploying zero-emission vehicles and fuels for all passenger and freight travel modes. Local governments can take action on climate by ensuring existing infrastructure is in a state of good repair and making new investments in rail, transit, walking, biking, and shared mobility. Some other strategies include traffic signal optimization, intelligent transportation systems, and travel demand management. Start by prioritizing your community’s capital needs, developing a project pipeline, and coordinating with others as needed. Review available funding opportunities and then plan for which streams of funding to target.

Adopt a Complete Streets policy. Design connected routes for walkers and bicyclists within and between communities. Provide visible crosswalks, good lighting, designated bike lanes, curb bump outs, and countdown timers.

Design and zone for compact development. Revitalize and redevelop areas around transit facilities into mixed-use neighborhoods. Invest in sidewalks, bike lanes, and shuttles to reach transit stations.

Prepare a municipal inventory and then replace suitable fleet with EVs.

Identify and invest in locations with demand for public charging stations.

Invest in bus shelters, signage, lighting, sidewalks, bike paths, and bike storage.

Invest in shuttle services and shared e-bikes/e-scooter systems. Provide incentives for shared rides.

The above are example strategies can reduce emissions though anything local government can do to reduce dependency on gas- or diesel-fueled vehicles is climate action.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), or the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) were enacted in 2021 and 2022. The IIJA provides $1.2T for roads, bridges, rail, transit, ports, airports, water systems, and broadband. The IRA channels $147.81B toward climate, energy, and health. The most significant spending under the IIJA is in reauthorized formula funding programs, such as the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program. These programs provide substantial flexibility to address local transportation needs best and provide opportunities to fund low-carbon strategies.

Identify climate-smart transportation investment opportunities for your community here.

Meet the Climate Corps

Angel Alguera, Rutgers Climate CorpsAngel Alguera
I am a first-year Atmospheric Science master’s degree student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, and my work focuses on meteorology and applications of climate change resiliency. My professional interests include severe weather forecasting and community preparedness regarding weather-related disasters. I work with Dr. James Shope at the NJ Climate Change Resource Center to produce applied research and reports relevant to New Jersey stakeholders. I currently assist with climate change data analysis, large dataset management, and report writing.

Daniel GilkesonDaniel Gilkeson
I’m a second-year master’s student in the City and Regional Planning Program with a concentration in environmental planning. As a planner, I hope to build more resilient communities in the face of increased risk due to climate change. With the Climate Change Resource Center, I am working on a project to aid the state in an update of its floodplain buyout program, known as Blue Acres, to be more proactive and comprehensive. Prior to this position, I interned in the Community and Economic Development Office at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Association. I’m also an AmeriCorps alum, having completed a year of service working on affordable housing in Nashville, Tennessee.

Benjamin GoldbergBenjamin Goldberg
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in climate adaptation and resiliency planning, with experience in sustainable food systems. I joined the Climate Corps last summer to help develop a GIS-based food waste recovery tool, and currently support community resilience through flood vulnerability analysis. I hold a B.A. from Middlebury College and a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz.

Surya Jacob, Rutgers Climate CorpsSurya Jacob
I am a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School concentrating in community development, focused on housing, land and finance, as well as pursuing the Real Estate Development/Redevelopment Certification. Prior to Bloustein, I worked as an architect and interior designer in India and Canada and am pivoting towards a career in urban planning to engage in extensive projects at the macro level. My interests include affordable and mixed income housing, urban redevelopment, and housing finance, and I am deeply passionate about climate resilience in community planning. Being part of Climate Corps is a foundational step towards helping to solve equity issues in vulnerable communities along the coastal region.

Vineesh Das Kodakkandathil, RutgersVineesh Das Kodakkandathil
I am an urban planner with five years of professional experience in community-led ecotourism development and land use and environment management planning in ecologically sensitive areas. I have worked on and conducted extensive environmental sensitivity analyses, flood and landslide vulnerability assessments, and human impact assessments with the help of GIS tools. I’m currently pursuing my master’s in City and Regional Planning at Bloustein School with a concentration in Transport Planning and GIS.

Douglas LeungDouglas Leung
I am working with the Climate Change Resource Center to identify vulnerable communities and places affected by climate-induced flooding in coastal New Jersey municipalities. I am a Master of City and Regional Planning candidate at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. As a planner, I want to develop strategies and solve problems affecting our cities and communities that enable more equitable outcomes in housing and transportation. I am also a recent Army veteran, having served as a company commander of recruiting in the northern suburbs of Chicago and as a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 10th Mountain Division. For fun, I enjoy weightlifting, running, reading fiction, and board games.

Nihar MhatreNihar Mhatre
I am a master’s candidate in city and regional planning at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, focusing on urban design and land use planning. Before being accepted at Rutgers, I worked as an architect at JD Studio and had my own architectural practice, Vastu Insights. My research interests revolve around designing and developing climate change adaptation and resilience strategies to promote equity in urban landscapes. Having the opportunity to work on real-world projects through Climate Corps will be an essential step in the development of my understanding of addressing climate change issues in vulnerable regions.

Justin MorrisJustin Morris
Justin is a master’s student at Rutgers University studying discovery informatics and data sciences. He is working under Professor Mark Rodgers to develop an optimization model that will act as a decision support tool for university financial investments with the end goal of eliminating Rutgers’ scope 2 emissions. He is excited to apply his background in data analytics and mathematical programming to help the university fight climate change.

Josephine O'GradyJosephine O’Grady
I am a first-year student in the Master of Public Policy program. Through the Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2) certification, I am focusing a significant portion of my graduate coursework on topics including coastal geomorphology, environmental justice, and hazard mitigation planning. Before beginning my studies at the Bloustein School, I received my bachelor’s degree in public health from Kean University, where I first became interested in how coastal dynamics shape lived experiences. I previously served as an intern at the New Jersey State Policy Lab and currently work for the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

Jessica Parineet Jessica Parineet
I am a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the Bloustein School with a strong interest in climate change policy and related topics. In my previous work, I gained experience in a number of dimensions of climate change issues through carbon capture storage research, urban heat island research, and community level engagement as I am currently on the Student Advisory Board for the Rutgers Office of Climate Action. I am excited to expand on my interests in environmental justice and local level resilience planning through my involvement in the Climate Corps.

Dillon Patel Dillan Patel
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Environmental Planning and International Development. I have previously worked as an economist performing cost-benefit analysis and conducting monitoring and evaluation for renewable energy in developing countries. I have also spent a summer in western Massachusetts mapping stormwater infrastructure and working with planners to identify suitable places for green stormwater infrastructure.

Moira Sweeder, Rutgers Climate CorpsMoira Sweeder
I am a graduate student enrolled in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School. My concentration is environmental planning with a focus on coastal resilience. Before pursuing my master’s degree at Rutgers, I studied sustainability at Stockton University. During this time, I interned for the PSEG Institute of Sustainability Studies, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuary Research Reserve, and NJ Audubon. I am thrilled to now be a part of the Climate Corps, researching coastal resilience as a part of the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

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