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Rutgers to see transportation transformation with Transportation Master Plan

 – Photo by Samantha Casamir

By December 2016, Rutgers students will be experiencing a brand new transportation system.

Rutgers is expecting a transformation through the “University Physical Master Plan," said Jenn Stuart, Manager of Transportation Planning at the Rutgers University Department of Transportation (RUDOTS). She said the Transportation Master Plan is already in action.

“The goal of the Transportation Master Plan is to create a transportation environment that enhances mobility alternatives for students, faculty, staff and visitors," Stuart said in an email.

She said these alternatives include parking, transit, bicycling and walking.

The Transportation Master Plan is available online and lists many of the changes the University will see across the Newark, Camden and New Brunswick campuses.

“We have studied Rutgers’ far-flung transportation networks, the daily ebb and flow of students between their living spaces and classes, the ways in which classes are assigned and how technology might enhance time usage and reduce the need to travel," according to the online Master Plan.

According to the Master Plan, the Raritan River is the center of the new system. Specifically, it looks at how Rutgers can develop in a way that would help the area’s natural ecosystem rather than harm it.

Matt Skeete, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said he thinks the Transportation Master Plan will only be beneficial for the University.

“I believe that it will enact positive change – car commuters have many travel options already, while those who take public transport or bike are less lucky,” he said.

Stuart said some of the projects planned for the New Brunswick campus include Transit Hubs, a Raritan River pedestrian and bike bridge, Livingston Preserve Trails, a Raritan River Boardwalk, a George Street/Nielson Street bus and bike route and even a Busch-Livingston Connector.

“Making biking safer between Livingston and Busch (would be the most beneficial)," Skeete said. "The traffic between Route 18 and Busch is scary to ride through and the bike paths are unclear.”

The Busch-Livingston Connector will be a new dedicated roadway and bridge over Route 18, according to the Master Plan.

“The Busch-Livingston Connector is envisioned to provide access between the Busch and Livingston districts for transit, bicyclists and pedestrians,” Stuart said.

The Master Plan also said the transit hubs will be an entry into every district, located by the most commonly used social and academic areas of each campus. Express bus lines are also part of the plan, and if possible Rutgers will create dedicated bus-only lanes to connect the district hubs.

“The Transportation Master Plan will help to advance key projects toward implementation and inform policy and operational changes that need to happen to advance the vision of the Physical Master Plan,” Stuart said.

Despite the many new additions to the transportation network at Rutgers, there is no information as to whether the oldest buses will be replaced by new buses.

John Karakoglou, Manager of Transit Services at RUDOTS, said every bus is inspected and is not allowed to operate if red flagged.

“We keep a backup fleet of buses on campus and put them into rotation when our main fleet needs servicing,” Karakoglou said in an e-mail. “These backup buses are also used to cover extra routes and assist with the larger passenger loads at the beginning of each semester.”

There are others who remain unconvinced that the old buses are safe, including bus drivers.

“I feel that we should replace the older buses,” Skeete said. “I’ve heard drivers complain as well.”

According to the Master Plan, College Avenue and Cook/Douglass will be connected by a new bicycle and pedestrian route along the Raritan, and the route across the Route 27 bridge to Highland Park will be restored as well.

There will be many ways for students to be involved in the Transportation Plan, and Rutgers is encouraging its students to take part, Stuart said.

“Facilities & Capital Planning are currently hosting numerous ‘Pop-Up DOTs’ across campus in the coming weeks to provide information, answer questions, and gather feedback from the University community on the transportation system,” she said.

Stuart also said the Transportation Master Plan drafts findings will be available online through forums, online surveys, focus groups and additional “Pop-Up DOTs” dates in the Spring and Fall 2016 semesters.

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