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Truck Exhaust


Counting Trucks in Newark’s South Ward Supports Drive for Cleaner Air

South Ward Environmental Alliance

To collect localized data on truck emissions, SWEA recently conducted a two-day truck count effort focused on medium and heavy-duty trucks in six areas of the South Ward of Newark. This data will help us advocate for cleaner air and measures to improve public health.

The Burden of Truck Emissions in Urban Areas

The South Ward of Newark has long grappled with the cumulative impacts of air pollution due to high levels of industrial activity, vehicular emissions, and certain geographical features that can trap pollutants. Roadways and travel corridors that cut through and alongside the South Ward serve as primary routes for the transportation industry, carrying goods out of Port of Newark to the surrounding region and beyond. Residents are exposed to disproportionately high levels of air pollutants from these trucks, including health-harming emissions such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Our Truck Count event was designed to gather real-time data on the number of trucks passing through densely populated areas and sensitive locations like schools and residential housing. SWEA staff, youth organizers, and volunteers stationed themselves at strategic locations, recording counts and then analyzing the data by breaking it down into categories by truck type.

Data collected from these ongoing truck counts is always eye-opening and provides SWEA with valuable insights into the trucking activity in our community. We continue to do these truck counts at the same locations within the same three time slots so that we can analyze the data over time. For example, we plan to compare data from this year with previous years and identify any patterns or trends.

Key findings and observations from this truck counting event include the following:

High Volume of Diesel Trucks: A substantial number of diesel trucks were observed, indicating a reliance on this emission-intensive fuel source for transportation.

Impact on Vulnerable Communities: Many observed truck routes passed through neighborhoods with higher proportions of marginalized communities. One of our stations was on Frelinghuysen Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Newark. This area has an industrial waste complex across the street from the Newark Housing Authority senior public housing complex, home to approximately 800 residents.

Awareness Gap: A noticeable need for more awareness about the correlation between truck emissions and air quality was observed among the passersby with whom we spoke during the truck count event.

Need for Electric and Low-Emission Solutions: The event underscored the urgency of transitioning to electric trucks and trucks with low-emitting technology to reduce air pollution and its negative health impacts.

Promoting Change for Cleaner Air and Environmental Justice

Armed with the valuable data collected during our recent Truck Count, SWEA plans to remain on the frontlines driving positive change in several ways:

1. Advocacy and Policy Initiatives: We will use the data to advocate for stricter regulations on truck emissions, promoting the adoption of cleaner technologies and fuels.
2. Collaboration with Stakeholders: We intend to foster collaborative efforts to improve air quality and reduce the impact of truck emissions by engaging with local authorities, businesses, and other stakeholders.
3. Educational Campaigns: We intend to launch educational campaigns to raise community awareness, ensuring that Newark residents understand the importance of reducing truck emissions for a healthier environment.
4. Community Engagement: We will continue to mobilize the community towards demanding cleaner transportation solutions by raising awareness about the correlation between truck emissions and poor air quality. 

Truck Count Data: South Ward Routes

Route Number
Route 1: Lyons Ave & Fabyan Place
Route 2: Frelinghuysen Ave & Evergreen Ave
Route 3: Frelinghuysen Ave & Empire St
Route 4: Frelinghuysen Ave + Meeker Ave
Route 5: Elizabeth Ave + Meeker Ave


Number of Trucks


SWEA is committed to advocating for positive change, engaging the community, and working collaboratively with stakeholders to pave the way for cleaner air and a healthier future for all residents of Newark.

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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