HAMMONTON—Hammonton’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning steering committee, in cooperation with Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC, held a public information center event at 7 p.m. on July 29. The event was accessible via Zoom teleconferencing software and was simulcast on Channel 9.

The purpose of the event was to provide a presentation and Q&A session introducing the project process to the public.

“The end result is to provide the town with a plan, and really a road map, as guidance to make Hammonton more walkable, more bikeable and more livable: a place where people want to come to live, work and play … I think Hammonton has a lot to offer.”

Steve Wong, Project Manager, Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC

Denise Mazzeo, communications manager and recreation leader for the town of Hammonton, offered a brief overview of the project.

“The town, along with the N.J. Department of Transportation (NJDOT)’s Bureau of Safety, Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs, is working with the town to create a bicycle and pedestrian master plan. The main objective of this project is to develop a comprehensive system of bicycle paths throughout our town. The project will help us to identify areas of opportunity for bicycle lanes, pedestrian improvements, streetscaping and so much more. I encourage you to participate in this study, and help us to obtain our goals and make Hammonton a bicycle-friendly and transit-oriented place,” Mazzeo said.

William Riviere, the principal planner at NJDOT, who is also with the LTA (Local Technical Assistance) program, said that the purpose of the program is to “offer technical assistance to a community in order to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and access.”

“The most important thing to remember tonight is that, while Sam Schwartz is an expert in bike and ped[estrian] planning, you guys are the experts on Hammonton. We’ll be relying on your input to make this study as valuable as possible, and we’ll be discussing ways for you to give that input shortly,” Riviere said.

Watch the full presentation here.

During the event, Andrew Lappitt of Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC discussed how information was gathered.

“We’ve done an extensive data-collection effort, which allows us to paint a picture of the existing transportation conditions of Hammonton, with special focus on bicycle and pedestrian transportation. The project team has collected traffic volume data, historical crash data, transit data, mapping data, we’ve researched previous plans and studied those projects and we’ve also completed a field inventory of eight selected streets for focus known in this project as the priority corridors,” Lappitt said.

Lappitt said that a total of nine such corridors were identified by the town of Hammonton and confirmed by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning steering committee. Along each of the corridors, Lappitt said, measurements were taken, and roadway and sidewalk conditions were noted.

“The selected priority corridors include Central Avenue, Bellevue Avenue—which becomes 12th Street south of Egg Harbor Road, and is also designated as Route 54—Egg Harbor Road to Moss Mill Road, Fairview Avenue—which becomes 13th Street south of Egg Harbor Road—Chew Road, First Road, Second Road, Main Road and Park Avenue,” Lappitt said.

According to Lappitt, several different analyses were completed, including a bicycle level of traffic stress (LTS) analysis (such levels—there are four—are determined by roadway features, such as speed limit, traffic volume, lane widths and number of lanes), a sidewalk inventory and assessment (where conditions were observed, inventoried and categorized as good, fair, poor or missing), and crash analyses (focusing on both bicycle/pedestrian crashes and vehicle crashes).

“When you’re providing input, we encourage you to identify locations around Hammonton where you think there are potential crash issues, or, perhaps, where you’ve seen near-miss incidents,” Lappitt said.

Lappitt also drew special attention to Route 54, a state road, which is due to be resurfaced.

“As part of that resurfacing project, it will include repairing of sidewalk, constructing crosswalks and curb ramps at intersections, bus stop improvements, shoulders and a buffered bike lane from Chew Road to U.S. 30. We’re aware of this, and we’re coordinating with NJDOT to incorporate these improvements into our plan,” Lappitt said.

Zeke Mermell of Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC then spoke, directing viewers through the public input process.

“I wish we could all meet in person, but, due to the COVID-19 situation, we are finding other ways to engage with the community. We have a project page within the town of Hammonton’s website, which includes a survey and interactive map which we’d love for you to fill out … Here, on the webpage, you can learn how the project is progressing, contextual information and, most importantly, the following tools,” Mermell said.

The first tool Mermell discussed was the community survey.

“It should only take 10 to 15 minutes of your valuable time, and the survey has a series of questions designed to get you thinking critically about the state of walking and biking in town. There are a few targeted questions for people with disabilities, transit users and school-aged children and teenagers to get input on how to improve mobility for those communities. Over the past few weeks, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback and would love it if you could add yours,” Mermell said.

Mermell also discussed the interactive map available on the project site.

“We are crowdsourcing all your important input. On the map page online, there is an instruction video and other tools to help you understand how to make your imprint onto the map. You’ll be able to add what you like and what you don’t like, plus show where in town you’d like walking and biking routes,” Mermell said.

Mermell said that, in order to provide enough time to residents the survey and map will be available until the end of August.

“As you’re traveling around town and think of new ideas, the survey and map will be available. Afterwards, we’ll compile all residents’ feedback and integrate into our recommendations to be representative of your collective use,” Mermell said.

Mermell noted that, as of the event, there had already been more than 50 responses to the survey.

“As the project progresses, there will be other ways you all can provide input. This is the first of a few public information center events. At the next one, we will present survey findings. The virtual format is important since we cannot see you in person during the COVID-19 pandemic … As soon as all the information is in, we will develop recommendations based on your input and present them back to you so that you are fully informed of what your fellow residents also want. Lastly, we will finalize recommendations and start developing this bicycle and pedestrian plan,” Mermell said.

“The main objective of this project is to develop a comprehensive system of bicycle paths throughout our town. The project will help us to identify areas of opportunity for bicycle lanes, pedestrian improvements, streetscaping and so much more. I encourage you to participate in this study, and help us to obtain our goals and make Hammonton a bicycle-friendly and transit-oriented place.”

Denise Mazzeo, Communications Manager and Recreation Leader, Hammonton

Steve Wong, project manager for Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC, explained to participants the purpose of the grant that is funding the project.

“There’s no cost to the town. Really, the hope is that the improvements that are made and the recommendations that are made through the final report will be able to be used to apply for grant funding from the state and federal government to finance some of the improvements. The intent is for our report to give the town the ammunition and provide some of the technical assistance to fill out grant applications and apply for those grants to implement a lot of the recommendations. There’s no cost for the study, and the hope is that the study and the final report is used to acquire grant funding for all the different programs out there,” Wong said.

Wong noted that the project is in its very early stages, but the desired finished product will be beneficial for the town.

“The end result is to provide the town with a plan, and really a road map, as guidance to make Hammonton more walkable, more bikeable and more livable: a place where people want to come to live, work and play … I think Hammonton has a lot to offer,” Wong said.

This story was produced in collaboration with CivicStory and the New Jersey Sustainability Reporting project. It was originally reported by Joseph F. Berenato for The Hammonton Gazette, and may be re-distributed through the Creative Commons License, with attribution.

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