New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the Nation, and as a result, traffic is a primary concern for any development project. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (“NJDOT”) has jurisdiction over all projects along state highways. Although local and county roadways fall outside of the State’s authority, New Jersey agencies maintain their own application and approval process.
As businesses look to secure real estate and operate in New Jersey, navigating traffic issues and permitting can be daunting. Working to understand the State’s permitting challenges and knowing how to obtain the necessary approvals for a project in advance are critical in ensuring a real estate project is completed on time and on budget.
This guide will help assess site feasibility and what lies ahead on the road to permitting a project from a site access and traffic impact perspective. The information provided addresses sites located along a state highway falling within the jurisdiction of the NJDOT. Projects located on county roads will require review and approval by county planning and engineering agencies rather than the State of New Jersey which generally can be accomplished in less time and at less cost. The assistance of a New Jersey licensed civil engineer specializing in traffic engineering will be needed to not only assess all required permits and approvals, but also to prepare the information necessary for filing with the appropriate agencies.
Getting Ahead of New Jersey Traffic Issues - Step By Step
1. Due Diligence - Determine if the site is located along a local, county, or state road. For purposes of this discussion, we will assume the project is located along a state highway as NJDOT permitting poses the most challenges.
2. Lot Conformance Analysis- This analysis is a study of the amount of traffic that will be permitted to access a state road from a site and which traffic movements will be allowed. It takes into account a number of factors including roadway speeds, amount of frontage along the roadway, size of the site, etc., and can be performed by most traffic engineers in less than two days. With approximately 90% certainty, this analysis can determine the extent to which a development will be limited by the NJDOT.
3. NJDOT Pre-Application Meeting - Schedule an informal meeting with the NJDOT to confirm the results of the Lot Conformance Analysis and the allowable movements out of a site driveway and onto a state highway. There is no fee charged by the NJDOT for these meetings and all that is required is a conceptual layout plan and initial calculations from a traffic engineer.
4. Evaluate Permit Options - After performing steps one through three, the potential development limitations are now known and a determination can be made as to what type of permit will be required. Now, an accurate evaluation can be made of the potential costs and time periods associated with securing the particular permit.
The Four Types of NJDOT Permits
1. Letter of No Interest - A Letter of No Interest allows developments to reuse existing driveways to the state highway with no changes to turning movements out of the driveway, the width, driveway material, or curbing. The applicant is required to provide proof that there would not be a significant change in the amount of traffic being generated by the development compared to the previous use.
2. Minor Access Permit - A Minor Access Permit will likely be required if a new driveway or a modification to an existing driveway is proposed and the trip generation associated with the development is very low (less than 500 trips a day to the state highway). The types of developments that would fall in this category are usually small and medium-sized residential developments, small offices, and smaller retail establishments with additional access to a side street.
3. Major Access Permit - A Major Access Permit may be required if a new driveway or modification to an existing driveway is proposed, the site will generate over 500 trips a day, and the net increase in trips compared to the previous development is less than 200 in the busiest hour. Typical developments that would fall in this category are restaurants, medium-sized office and medical office buildings, smaller shopping centers, and fast-food/coffee/convenience stores with a significant amount of traffic using a side street.
4. Major Access Permit with Planning - A Major Access Permit with Planning will likely be required if a new driveway or modification to an existing driveway is proposed, the site will generate over 500 trips a day, and the net increase in trips compared to the previous development is more than 200 in the busiest hour. Typical developments that would fall in this category are large shopping centers, gas stations with convenience stores, and other large-scale developments.
Joseph A. Paparo, Esq., Principal, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C., firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.
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