Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The Morris County Board of Freeholders has approved the hiring of a traffic consulting firm to conduct a study to help improve the efficiency of freight movement in the county.

The board took the action after hearing county transportation officials say the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey estimates truck traffic through the county will increase three-fold over the next 20 years from the 20,000 to 30,000 trucks that now travel routes 80 and 287.

“Obviously, if some of that freight can be moved by trains instead of trucks, it would lessen the major traffic impact now projected for our highways,” said Gene F. Feyl, freeholder director. “This study will help us make decisions that ensure goods are moved in a safer, more reliable way in the years to come and will guide smart growth in the county.”

The study will seek to identify future opportunities for freight-related development and infrastructure improvements, with a particular emphasis on facilitating connections between trucks and trains, Feyl said.

“Morris County’s interstate highways and freight rail network play a vital role in the region’s economy,” Feyl said. “A thriving freight industry means a stronger economy.”

The firm Eng-Wong, Taub & Associates will be paid $240,000 in federal funds to conduct the study, with the money coming through the New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

The study will include an inventory of the county’s infrastructure, land use conditions, freight-based businesses and their traffic impacts. The information will be reviewed to determine the potential and limits for the industry’s growth, and where that growth can best take place.

An analysis of the industry’s economic benefits and costs will also be conducted, and a series of recommendations for infrastructure and facilities improvements will be made.