Initiatives on climate change, transit OK with most in NJ — poll
New Jersey is among a dozen states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic pushing local governments to adopt the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which suggests a number of ways the region can improve public transportation, reduce carbon emissions and develop a clean-energy economy.
National grassroots organization The Nature Conservancy recently polled nearly 650 New Jersey voters to gauge their opinions on these plans. Those results have been passed to Gov. Phil Murphy's office for review.
Seven out of every 10 people said they already support the actions Murphy has taken on climate change so far, a response that was fairly typical.
"Every single item that we tested had at least a majority support, and in many cases, a majority offered strong support for those types of initiatives," Lori Weigel, principal of research firm New Bridge Strategy, said.
Only 1 in 4 respondents replied that they were opposed to the climate policies of the current administration.
New Bridge Strategy and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates were the bipartisan research partners for the survey.
Trina Mallik, climate change and energy policy manager for The Nature Conservancy, said that transportation accounts for 42% of New Jersey's greenhouse gas emissions.
So public transit upgrades, especially those that would help accomplish the dual goal of making streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, received overwhelming support.
"The communities and the families most harmed by pollution, and COVID, are black and brown communities, many of which are home to large numbers of essential workers who work in hospitals, home care, grocery stores, and warehouses," Nick Sifuentes, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said, while advocating for long-term public transportation funding.
Another particular consideration was the condition of roads and bridges near the Jersey Shore, keeping in mind the region's many evacuation routes for major storms.
"Repairing and upgrading roads and bridges so that they can better withstand the impacts of storms or flooding that could take place as a result of climate change, we saw virtually everyone in the state, 96%, offering support for that," Weigel said.
Atlantic County Freeholder Caren Fitzpatrick also emphasized the importance of viable transportation for her constituents, and tourists as well.
"In the 21st century, in 2020, we shouldn't have to plan our lives around the tides in America," Fitzpatrick said. "We should have roads that are elevated enough so that people can pass unobstructedly."
Interestingly, these results were released one day before the 9.3 cent per gallon increase in New Jersey's gas tax, a development that might have impacted one of the poll's findings. A majority of respondents said they would pay an extra nickel, or more, per gallon of gasoline if it would fund TCI improvements.