Bike Lane, Back-In Angled Parking Could Be Coming To Sea Bright

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SEA BRIGHT: With the upcoming repaving of Ocean Avenue/Route 36, borough officials are now weighing the pros and cons of adding a bicycle lane and back-in angled parking when the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) re-stripes the highway.

Sea Bright Recovery Manager Steve Nelson said during the Feb. 15 Sea Bright Council Workshop meeting that the borough contacted the NJDOT last spring to look at what it would take to stripe bike lanes in the borough and put in some back-in angled parking. The NJDOT brought in RBA Group Planner Mike Dannemiller as a consultant on the project and the concept was ultimately given the state’s stamp of approval.

“This is the DOT-approved plan so if the borough agrees to this plan, this is what would be striped as designed here,” Nelson said. “The plan that you have before you shows a bike lane from Monmouth Beach up to Sandy Hook, it shows back-in angled parking in the downtown portion of Sea Bright.”

The bike lane would be located on the northbound and southbound sides of Route 36.

“Sea Bright really is the hole in the doughnut in terms of biking sites in the area, you’ve got Sandy Hook to the north, you’ve got wide shoulders to the south and you’ve got the Route 36 Bridge which was recently completed with bike lanes and widened sidewalks,” Nelson said.

The bike lanes would be 4-feet wide on the north side of the borough and 5 feet everywhere else.

The plan could also include extending the southbound right turn lane from Route 36 to the Rumson/Sea Bright Bridge.

Nelson said some of the benefits for the back-in angled parking is that it makes it safer for cyclists coming through town and it will also act to slow traffic down.

He said one of the negatives is that there would be a loss of parking on the northbound side of the street in the downtown area.

“There is going to be an overall net loss of parking downtown because of the back-in angled parking and the fact that we’re losing northbound parking (because of the northbound bike lane),” Nelson said. “There’s a gain on the westbound side of 7 spaces, but fewer overall.”

The borough currently have 34 spaces on southbound side, would have 41 if the plan as presented is accepted by the borough.

Dannemiller said the plan can be modified to include a bike lane and parallel parking as opposed to the back-in angled parking, but that it would be safer for cyclists with the new type of parking.

The borough tried the back-in angled parking in front of Andy K’s Dairy and Deli last spring and it was met with mixed reviews by residents.

Borough officials were all in agreement that the bike lane should be a part of the plan but offered differing opinions on the back-in angled parking.

Mayor Dina Long said she wanted to hear from business owners before deciding on the type of parking that should be included in the plan.

Councilman Charles Rooney said he was in favor of the back-in angled parking as it would make it more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly and make it a destination for cyclists.

“(The DOT is) doing (the work) for free, it doesn’t make any sense to pass it up,” Rooney said.

Rooney said he spoke to several downtown business owners about the new type of parking and said the responses was “much more positive” than he expected.

Long said all the business owners will be notified of the possible change in parking and said if the plan was approved that she would like to have a 1-year assessment period.

The repaving will begin as soon as New Jersey American Water’s water main project replacement project is completed. That project could begin as soon as this month, but borough officials and the NJDOT did not have a specific date.

The council would need to give the striping plan its approval for it to be implemented and a decision could be made by mid February, possibly by the Feb. 17 meeting, by way of a resolution.

Long said copies of the plan will be available at borough hall and will be placed on the borough web site.


Sea Bright Mulls More Back-In Parking


A motorist attempts to park in a reverse-angle space in Sea Bright last June. Mike Dannemiller, below left in picture below, addresses the council Thursday morning. (Photos by John T. Ward)

Hoping to piggyback on a plan by the state to repave the town’s main drag in coming weeks, Sea Bright officials gave informal approval Thursday to the creation of bike lanes on Ocean Avenue.

They stopped just short, however, of doing the same for a proposal to expand the new-to-Monmouth County use of reverse-angle parking.

Last June, Sea Bright became the first town in the county to give reverse-angle parking a try. Also known as back-in and head-out parking, the method requires a motorist to back into a slot at a 45-degree angle to the curb.

Reverse-angle parking has been adopted in numerous cities because, advocates say, it’s safer than parallel parking both for motorists and pedestrians.

Sea Bright eased into the concept with a pilot program consisting of eight curbside spaces in front of the Ocean Avenue supermarket. The idea at the time, baked into the town’s “20/20″ plan, was to later expand the concept elsewhere in the borough.

At a workshop meeting of the council Thursday morning, town officials hoped to accelerate the program by having the state Department of Transportation create additional angled spaces when it re-stripes most of Route 36 – Ocean Avenue – following a repaving project.

Mike Dannemiller, a biking and pedestrian safety consultant to the DOT, said the time was right for both back-in parking and the bike lanes, as the Ocean Avenue is about to become “a clean canvas.” And the agency is on board with the borough’s request, he said.

Following the installation of a new water main, the DOT plans to repave Ocean Avenue from the Monmouth Beach border to the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge, officials said. The bike lanes, however, would extend to the town’s northern end, at Sandy Hook.

On the southbound side of the highway, where most of the town’s businesses are located, back-in parking would yield 41 spaces where there are now 34, Dannemiller said. Overall, however, the number of spaces outside the municipal lot would be reduced slightly, he said.

Linda Richter, a borough resident and trauma nurse who spearheaded the change as a safety measure both for motorists and pedestrians, told redbankgreen she has about 100 signatures, including many from business owners, on a petition in support of the parking plan.

There is some opposition, she acknowledged, over the reduction in parking spaces. “Also, some people think they can’t do it,” she said, though advocates maintain it’s easier and safer than parallel parking.

Mayor Dina Long and members of the borough council appeared largely supportive, though Long said she wanted to be sure there was buy-in from the business community. She asked that Businesses of Sea Bright and other interested groups discuss the matter and bring their concerns and questions to the February 3 council meeting before the town gives the DOT a green light.

Councilman Jack Keeler, however, voiced concern that the back-in system would aggravate motorists commuting through town.

“Commuters want to get through,” he said.

Dannemiller, however, said the change would have no impact on roadway capacity, and slowing down traffic is one of the aims of the project.

Less controversial was the plan to stripe the roadway for bike lanes, though questions arose about the width of the lanes on Ocean Avenue north of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge. Dannemiller said that while the optimum width of a bike lane was five feet or greater, that stretch of roadway could only accommodate four feet in each direction.

“There’s a slight narrowing” of the lanes north of the bridge, he said. “You make things a little tighter, people will drive a little more slowly. We’re working with the existing infrastructure.”

Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli, who has been lobbying for uninterrupted bike lanes from the Red Bank train station to the oceanfront community, was in the audience to show his support.

Article By JOHN T. WARD


Westport’s Downtown Steering Committee Receives Draft Master Plan

First Selectman Jim Marpe commented on the draft presented by the RBA group. Photo Credit: File

WESTPORT, Conn. — At a special work session held Thursday, the RBA Group, consultants hired by the town of Westport to prepare a Downtown Master Plan, presented a draft of the plan to the Downtown Steering Committee (DSC) for formal review.

The DSC had a chance to ask initial questions and submit comments to RBA. According to DSC Chair Melissa Kane, “The document the DSC reviewed today is clearly the result of RBA’s having listened carefully to what Westporters had to say about our downtown. While it is still in draft form, it is comprehensive, creative and worthy of thoughtful consideration, support and, ultimately, action. I believe the strength of this Plan is its integration of many various improvement ideas — over 40 recommendations in all, covering everything from streetscape to traffic and mobility, from parking to flood management. As such, it is best evaluated in its totality.”

The draft will be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission for its comment in a work session scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 15.

Public comment on the draft is encouraged and will be possible through the website, where it will be posted, and at a Public Open House which is scheduled for Wednesday ,Jan. 28, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium. The Open House will include exhibits, multiple Power Point presentations of the draft at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and opportunities to comment and ask questions. The presentation sessions will be televised on public access Channel 79 (Cablevision) and Channel 99 (ATT). Following review by the DSC, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and the public, RBA will prepare and present a final draft of the Downtown Master Plan to the DSC.

First Selectman Jim Marpe attended the meeting and had the following words of support, “The development of a Master Plan for Downtown has been a long time goal of the Town and is called for in our Town Plan of Conservation and Development. Having read the draft report, I find it to be both visionary and practical. It reflects and incorporates the values which Westporters told us were important to them: to maintain the ‘Small Town Character’ of Westport; to make Downtown more of a place for Westporters to enjoy; and to complete and improve Downtown where needed, rather than growing it.”

The DSC is providing guidance and technical assistance to the consultant team, led by the RBA Group, in developing a Master Plan for Downtown Westport. The full membership of the DSC can be viewed on the town’s project website

RBA Delivers a Comprehensive, Creative Draft Master Plan for the Future of Downtown Westport


 WESTPORT, CT — January 6, 2015 — Today, in a special work session, The RBA Group presented a draft of the Downtown Master Plan to the Downtown Steering Committee for formal review (DSC). The DSC had a chance to ask initial questions and submit comments to RBA.

 According to DSC Chair Melissa Kane, “The document the DSC reviewed today is clearly the result of RBA’s having listened carefully to what Westporters had to say about our Downtown. While it is still in draft form, it is comprehensive, creative and worthy of thoughtful consideration, support and, ultimately, action. I believe the strength of this Plan is its integration of many various improvement ideas – over 40 recommendations in all, covering everything from streetscape to traffic and mobility, from parking to flood management. As such, it is best evaluated in its totality.”

The Draft will be presented to the P&Z commission, for their comment, in a work session which has been scheduled for Thursday, January 15th.  Public comment on the Draft is encouraged, and will be possible through the website (, where the Draft will be posted, and at a Public Open House which is scheduled for Wednesday January 28th, from 4 – 9 pm, in the Auditorium at Town Hall. The Open House will include exhibits, multiple Power Point presentations of the Draft (5:30 and 7:30pm), and opportunities to comment and ask questions. The presentation sessions will be televised on public access Channel 79 (Cablevision) and Channel 99 (ATT).

Following review by the DSC, Planning & Zoning Commission, and the public, RBA will prepare and present a final draft of the Downtown Master Plan to the DSC.



Latest Safe Routes Scoop!

Check out the New Jersey School Zone
Design Guide — just released!

The New Jersey School Zone Design Guide is a new resource which provides guidance for schools, local government and community members involved in efforts to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school.  The guide was prepared for the New Jersey Department of Transportation by The RBA Group and Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc.The design guide is to be used as a resource for school boards, school administration, police, parents and engineers to advance the goals of the NJ Safe Routes to School program.  Physical improvements to the transportation infrastructure and environment around schools can improve safety for children and parents who walk and bicycle to school. Examples can range from simple sidewalk replacement/repair to more complex traffic calming such as speed humps and curb extensions. Illustrations of best practices were gathered from school communities across New Jersey.  It’s a tremendous resource — be sure to check it out!For more information and to read the full scoop article, click here.To see a listing of Safe Routes Scoop articles, click here.

Risky Cross To Be Fixed

A 50-foot diagonal crosswalk leads pedestrians across Springs-Fireplace Road from School Street to Gardiner Avenue-and it is dangerous.

Street signs, meant to slow down traffic, have been pushed to the very ends of the crosswalk, or even cast off to the grass, Pedestrians have to quickly cross so as not to get hit, and often vehicles get too close before they realize someone is in the street.

A woman crosses the street quickly to avoid being hit at the intersection of School Street, Spring-Fireplace Road and Gardiner Avenue.

Springs School President Elizabeth Mendelman said many of their students have to cross that sidewalk to get to school every day. And during arrival and dismissal cars back up on School Street, Old Stone Highway and Gardiner Avenue.

Now Spring School is set to fix the problem with $554,000 in federal grant money it was awarded in January 20i3. The Springs School Board and East Hampton Town officials, in the summer of. 2012, began championing for assistance from the National Safe Routes to School Program, which was launched by Congress in 2005. The State Department of Transportation administers the program in New York.

The School Board, through a bidding process, has selected an engineering firm, Melville-based RBA to design the project and guide them through the process. Once the town retains RBA, the project can begin.

Ms. Mendelman said RBA has a lot of experience dealing with the federal aid process, traffic calming and roadway design. RBA has completed other Safe Routes programs on Long Island and in Riverhead and Centereach, as well as a traffic calming projects in Sag Harbor and a roundabout in North Haven.

RBA has released a preliminary illustration of what the intersection of Gardiner Avenue, School Street and Springs-Fireplace could be once the Safe Routes to School Project is finished.

In its preliminary report outlining solutions for a traffic issue at the three-way intersection in Springs, RBA found that expansive pavement poor sight lines, a lack of visual cues or signs, and a radius that is conducive to speeding are all part of the problem. There is also an absence of sidewalks, including ADA-compliant sidewalks, on Springs-Fireplace Road.

RBA plans to fix those issues by removing the diagonal crosswalk and replacing it with a crosswalk going across Gardiner Avenue and another going across Springs-Fireplace Road, as well as installing rapid flashing beacons to alert drivers that there is a crosswalk, sidewalks with buffers and curb extensions to create a safer walk, in-street signs, Hi-Viz crosswalks featuring reflective paint, and driver feedback devices telling drivers how fast they are driving.

The intersection of Gardiner Avenue and Springs-Fireplace Road floods during heavy rains.

The intersection also floods heavily when it rains and the Accabonac tide rises, Ms. Mendelman said. To address the flooding issue, RBA also proposes better drainage there.

Additionally, the School Board is requesting a new 1,805—foot sidewalk along the western side of Springs-Fireplace Road, from Woodbine Drive to Gardiner Avenue. They also want to reduce the speed limit from 40 mph to 30 mph between Abraham’s Path and Harbor Boulevard, and reduce the speed 250 feet north of Copeces Lane on Three Mile Harbor-Hog Creek Road from 35 mph to 30 mph. The board is also requesting six speed monitoring devices to be placed within a two-mile radius from the school to collect data and help the East Hampton Town Police Department better patrol the area.

According to Police Chief Michael Sarlo, the hope is that by making the area safer and providing the many families who live north of Springs-Fireplace Road a more secure crossing point, the number of kids walking and biking will increase.

New Sidewalks and better sight lines, along with added speed monitoring, should be a big improvement,” he said this week “Additionally, with the planned improvements in parking on Springs School property, hopefully, the traffic, parking and safety will all accommodate the growth the Springs School has been experiencing.”

The School Board formed a Safe Routes to School Team in 2012 to find the hazards schoolchildren face on their way to and from school, document, driver patterns and behaviors, and find solutions by working with town officials. Based on numbers collected from 2012, almost 300 students lived off Springs-Fireplace Road within a two-mile walking distance to the school. Approximately 130 of them lived under a mile of the school.

More than 100 students could walk or ride their bikes to school using a sidewalk, and nearly 100 students had to cross Springs-Fireplace Road. Approximately 73 students had to cross the diagonal crosswalk to School Street.

Three crosswalks – at Copeces Lane, Harbor Boulevard and Woodbine Drive – are not guarded, while the Gardiner Avenue crosswalk is guarded during arrival and dismissal times.

Ms. Mendelman said the school is planning to hold training sessions for its students on walking and biking to school safely. The school is considering holding a community information session about making it safer to walk to school. The PTA will also sponsor “walking buses” and “bike trains,” where parents walk students to and from school along the same route that a school bus would drive them to school, with a fixed route and designated stops and pickup times.

The school district plans on taking another tally of how many students are walking and biking before and after construction, Ms. Mendelman said. She said she suspects the project, which will be completed before fall of 2015, will not only make it safer for the students and the public, it will get a number of cars off the road.

“If we do this project, we could get many kids walking to school,” she said. “In Springs, there’s not one solution to fix the congestion problem. But walking and carpooling will be a benefit for the community.”

Fjord Trail Route Takes Shape

Infrastructure work could start in 2015

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Joined by public officials from three localities, on a rain-splattered night last week about 125 members of the public gathered indoors beneath Breakneck Ridge for the debut of a route map for the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail, a pedestrian and bicyclist track intended to link Cold Spring and Beacon.
At an Oct. 23 forum held at the Chalet on the Hudson, consultants from the RBA Group presented the trail’s preferred course between the Cold Spring and Beacon train stations, though the actual inch-by-inch and mile-by-mile siting and way the trail hugs the ground or river (or rises above them) remain to be determined through more nitty-gritty work.

Jackson Wandres, left, of RBA explains the proposed Fjord Trail Route to participants at an Oct. 23 forum

“This is a really, really challenging place to try to put the trail. There is very little land to work with and the land that’s there is pretty darn steep,” said Jackson Wandres, RBA director of landscape architecture and urban planning. “We looked at all sorts of things,” he explained as he led the audience through PowerPoint slides on the projected route. “The final design of the trail is going to be interesting, to say the least.”
Wandres estimated the total cost of the multiuse trail at $15.5 million, excluding a shoreline section from Little Stony Point, a New York State Park site just beyond the Cold Spring boundary, and Breakneck Ridge, about a mile north.
Snaked between the mountains on the east and Hudson River on the west, the trail would parallel the Metro-North Railroad tracks and Route 9D, a busy and narrow, twisting highway. Currently, throngs of hikers walk along 9D to reach paths winding up the hills, while cars overflow small lots and park in long lines along the scant verge.
A coalition of governmental, private and citizen interests advocates the Fjord Trail as a safe way to bring pedestrians and bicyclists, including present residents, from Cold Spring and Beacon to the mountain paths and allow them to walk or bike all or part of the 9-mile distance between the two towns, enjoying the vistas, boosting the local economy, promoting a form of ecotourism and decreasing auto congestion.
Intense trail discussions began in 2013, and last week’s public meeting followed two others this year on the initial “trail-blazing”: creation of a master plan that — after tweaking — could be finalized by December. Beyond that lie improvements to the existing parking lots; repairs to Cold Spring sidewalks leading from the village’s train station and extending to Little Stony Point; applications for grants and financial aid as needed; new signage; fulfillment of regulatory requirements; and, if all goes well, construction and completion of the trail itself.
Parking lot and sidewalk work could begin in 2015. In addition, trail supporters want to hold a Fjord Trail race next spring. Wandres said that along with a sidewalk running out Fair Street–River Road from the heart of Cold Spring to Little Stony Point, improvements at the southernmost end of the trail would likely include a reconfigured River Road–Route 9D (Morris Avenue) intersection, currently a dangerous and sharp Y.
Likewise, the limited-use Breakneck railroad stop, which takes hikers close to the highly popular Breakneck path, would get upgraded. The northern end of the trail would wind through Beacon.

Speeding and Parking

Audience members asked about potentially hazardous vehicle maneuvering along 9D and the trail; parking difficulties (even with lot improvements); and why, given the numerous pedestrians on Route 9D and the road’s inherent dangers at present, its speed limit has not been reduced, despite repeated calls for action.

A Fjord Trail route drawing shows an elevated walkway for pedestrians in the Breakneck Ridge area.
“It’s been discussed. That’s up to the state,” the Department of Transportation, Wandres replied. “They don’t like to reduce speed limits where they really don’t think it will be obeyed.”
The trail could enter Little Stony Point via the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks and proceed along the waterfront — a feature that caught the attention of Cold Spring resident and architect James Hartford, the president of the Little Stony Point Citizens Association.
“I’m just a bit concerned about it being a little heavy-handed in some places, that the experience of nature could be obliterated” in areas such as Little Stony Point, Hartford said. “I feel that place is special by itself and what you’re proposing is a pretty heavy impact on what is a forest preserve.”
Wandres responded that “we didn’t actually get into any details as to what we propose,” beyond bringing the trail into Little Stony Point and along the shore.
The forum drew Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea, Fishkill Town Supervisor Bob LaColla and Beacon Mayor Randy Casale, all of whom welcomed the audience and the concept of the trail.

Thinking Regionally

“We’re super-fortunate to live where we live and we’re super fortunate to have this” range of interest and support, Shea said. He added that the trail “has forged a partnership that is really powerful — between state and local officials [and] between public and private. And everybody knows when they see a great idea.”

Fjord Trail Proposal

Casale tied the name of Beacon as “a shining light” to wider illumination emanating from the trail effort. “We’re going to be, and the Fjord Trail should be, the beacon that leads people [to see] that if we work together good things can happen,” he said. “Instead of thinking small and just locally, we have to think regionally.”
LaColla mentioned the “energy” and sense of the “positive” the project generates. “Almost anybody that has touched on this has liked the idea. They love the idea and want it to happen,” he said. “Speaking as somebody involved in government a while: it’s unusual when everybody comes together like this.”
Various stakeholders have participated in the trail preparation, including the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, Scenic Hudson, Open Space Institute, Hudson River Foundation, Hudson River Valley Greenway, Putnam and Dutchess counties, towns of Philipstown and Fishkill, Village of Cold Spring, City of Beacon, Friends of Fahnestock & Hudson Highlands State Parks; NY-NJ Trail Conference, Little Stony Point Citizens Association, three New York state government departments, Central Hudson Gas & Electric and Metro-North Railroad, as well as residents.

RBA Partners With The City of Hoboken for the Redesign of Washington Street

The RBA Group presented the final concept plan for a proposed $14 million “complete street” design for the City of Hoboken’s main street.  RBA’s plan focuses on implementing the priorities identified by the community, local stakeholder groups and key City and agency representatives throughout this year-long design process.  Multimodal transportation, green infrastructure and smart technologies are featured in the plan, and address civic, safety, economic and cultural  goals that preserve and enhance the vitality of this great street.  This collaborative design project also included the involvement of representatives from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), who contributed review comments and input. The City is pursuing funding for the construction of the project through grant monies and local bonds.  Underground utility-related upgrades are already underway as part of scheduled independent efforts, and other related streets projects and a city-wide wayfinding signs program will further complement the plans for Washington Street.

Detailed plans, graphic renderings, and project deliverables are available on the City’s website.

RBA Authors Successful TIGER Grant Application for Waterbury, CT

RBA is proud to announce that the Waterbury Active Transportation and Economic Resurgence (WATER) Project has been chosen by FHWA to receive a $14.4 Million TIGER grant. RBA conceived of the project, produced preliminary plans and illustrations and wrote the winning grant application. The City of Waterbury has committed an additional $10 Million in local matching funds for the proposed $24.4 Million dollar multi-modal transportation improvement project. The project will build a new waterfront greenway trail and reconstruct several local streets as active ‘complete’ streets.

For additional information please visit The Governor of Connecticut’s website.

RBA Involved in Rebuilding Rockaways Boardwalk

At a lecture on resilient waterfront design at the Center for Architecture in New York, two projects now in the works show how public spaces can still be created on shorelines, even in the era of the monster storm: the Water Institute Headquarters, Research, and Interpretive Center proposal in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by SuperMass Studio; and the Rockaways Boardwalk Reconstruction Plan in Queens, New York, from CH2M HILL, with The RBA Group and WXY. Both use green buffers to protect the shoreline and add biodiversity, but are designed to ensure easy public access.

The challenge, said Jackson Wandres, director of landscape architecture and planning at The RBA Group, was to design a new boardwalk that was not only structurally sound but also maintained the public space and beach access of the old boardwalk. To accomplish this, RBA Group proposed rebuilding the boardwalk along its original route, but raising it up between three and eight feet, as appropriate, to match the height of the Army Corps berms. In essence: “one giant earthwork with a giant public esplanade running along top of it – that’s the public open space we’re creating.”


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