Bloustein graduate studio to receive Excellence in Planning award from Somerset County

March 26, 2019

The Spring 2018 graduate planning studio, Bound Brook and South Bound Brook, New Jersey Pedestrian and Bicycle Travel Plan, is the recipient of a 2018 Somerset County Land Development and Planning Award in the Excellence in Planning category.  Each year, the Somerset County Planning Board presents awards for land development and planning that exemplify superior site design, address contemporary planning issues, or exert a positive influence on the character of the County.

Students worked with clients from both municipal and school governments in Bound Brook and South Bound Brook, NJ, Somerset County staff, RideWise, Inc., and members of Healthier Somerset to create a Pedestrian and Bicycle Travel Plan for Bound Brook and South Bound Brook. In the final report, students created a menu of actions addressing education, encouragement, enforcement, engineering, and evaluation activities focusing on both short-term and long-term projects to improve walking and bicycling in both towns. The final report and presentation may be found at bloustein.rutgers.edu/pedestrian-and-bicycle-travel-plan-for-bound-brook-and-so-bound-brook/

“One of the most exciting outcomes of the studio was that we showed what could happen when local high school students were given a chance to have involvement in planning projects,” said Leigh Ann Von Hagen, Senior Research Specialist at the Bloustein School’s Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center. “As part of the studio process, the 4-H/Middle Earth high school students in Bound Brook and South Bound Brook were invited to discuss issues related to walking and bicycling in order to prioritize their concerns. In return, the Bloustein MCRP students taught the 4-H/Middle Earth students about placemaking and tactical urbanism and provided feedback on the student’s potential neighborhood improvement projects.” The partnership resulted in valuable insight and feedback on the Bloustein School Travel Plan project and inspired the 4-H/Middle Earth Students to focus on ways to address street safety in Bound Brook for their own summer project.

Bound Brook students came to the Bloustein School to learn about placemaking, tactical urbanism, and community engagement.

Several actions resulted from this studio. First, the Bound Brook High School students used their new knowledge about placemaking to create safer, more enjoyable pedestrian conditions through creating street murals, decorative crosswalks, and a parklet during the summer of 2018. Second, the report findings were used to apply for New Jersey Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School grant funds in September of 2018. Finally, a regional health-focused group, Healthier Somerset, is working with each town to help implement findings and create healthier, more enjoyable environments for those to live, work and play.

Bloustein students participating in the studio were Li-Yan Chang, Kristiana Barr, Rachel Fifield, Jill Walsh and Riddhi Parikh. The studio was taught by Voorhees Transportation Center staff Leigh Ann Von Hagen and Sean Meehan with assistance from RideWise, Inc. and Somerset County.

The award will be presented at the Somerset County Planning Board 2018 Land Development and Planning Awards on Tuesday, April 30. IT will be held at the Somerset County Administration Building in Somerville, NJ from 6:00-8:00 p.m. For more information about the event, please call 908-231-7021.

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