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Healthier Somerset’s Building Bridges to Better Health Transportation Initiative Gets Underway

In response to concerns voiced by the Bound Brook and South Bound Brook communities in early focus groups, Healthier Somerset’s Building Bridges to Better Health-Bound Brook and South Bound Brook (BBBH) leadership has launched a new transportation initiative referred to as the “Rutgers Studio Project.”

It is led by our transportation action team, which includes Walter Lane, Director of the Planning Division of Somerset County; Jeanne Herb, Associate Director, Environmental Analysis and Communications Group, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Gerry Montaque, Program Director at Ridewise; Dan Puntillo a member of our coalition’s leadership team and our action team Chair; our project director, Serena Collado, leadership team member and policy action team Chair); Bloustein School of Public Policy Professor Leigh Ann Von Hagen; Councilman Abel Gomez of Bound Brook; Bound Brook Administrator Hector Herrara, and South Bound Brook Mayor Chris Shoffner.

The initiative features two projects:

  • transportation infrastructure, and

  • opportunities to increase access for active recreation

Each project will be addressed by second-year graduate students at the Bloustein School, whose work on this initiative will also serve as a capstone project to fulfill their graduation requirements.

The first project will assess Bound Brook’s and South Bound Brook’s infrastructure for walkability, bikability, and access to transportation opportunities, including shuttles and public transportation.

The team for this project will be comprised of up to 20 graduate planning and public policy students from the Bloustein School and will walk the towns, noting unsafe corridors and crossings, issues with infrastructure such as crumbling sidewalks, lack of pedestrian and disability access, and other areas that would present transportation challenges.

By May 2018, the team will produce full documentation of the identified challenges, which will support our application to the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s upcoming grant cycle.

The second project is designed as a studio course at Rutgers that will focus solely on increased opportunities for active recreation in Bound Brook on the Raritan River, such as kayaking and canoeing. In a guest-lecture style studio format, students will learn from experts in topics such as public access and recreation planning, creative placemaking, wayfinding, resiliency and flooding concerns, and constraints posed by engineered flood protection measures already in place, in addition to the roles of public-private partnerships. The Bloustein students who enroll in this course will examine land parcels that are contiguous to downtown Bound Brook and will review the safety and regulatory challenges the project presents.

All of this work addresses “enhanced transportation options,” one of five themes set as priorities in our Blueprint for Action. The remaining priorities are: expansion of school-based programming; improved communication about current resources and programming; creation of free/low cost programming at local, trusted sources; and integrating health into decision-making at a policy level. Browse our Blueprint for Action here, and share your ideas and feedback with our project director.


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