Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation Courses from the National Highway Institute

The Federal Highway Administration’s National Highway Institute (NHI) is offering several environmental web-based training courses addressing climate change through adaptation and resilience. The courses are aimed primarily towards the needs of transportation personnel who work in engineering, design, and project development/NEPA units in transportation agencies (mainly State DOTs). The courses will also be relevant to those interested in planning, asset management, operations, and maintenance. Expected participants include experienced staff from State DOTs, local governments, Tribal governments, Federal State agencies, and consultants.

The free Web-based Trainings (WBTs) are prerequisites for an in-person Instructor-Led training course.

Saw Cut Vertical Curb Webinar

Do you have to reduce the curb height to make the longitudinal barriers compliant with AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) requirements?

Join AASHTO for an information-packed webinar with New Jersey Department of Transportation on how saw-cutting is used in curb retrofitting to make longitudinal barrier installations compliant with new requirements in a safer, more cost-effective, and more efficient manner.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovative Initiative (AII) program recognized NJDOT’s Sawcut Vertical Curb as one of seven Focus Technologies in 2022.  More info about the about the AII award and the Saw Cut Vertical Curb innovation can be found here.

AASHTO’s webinar will be held on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 2:00 pm EDT.  Register HERE

NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap winner, Sawcut Vertical Curb, is a response to a change in standards requiring existing curbing at guide rails to be reduced in height. This innovation increases safety and cost savings.

NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap winner, Saw Cut Vertical Curb, is a response to a change in standards requiring existing curbing at guide rails to be reduced in height. This innovation increases safety and cost savings.

During this free webinar, participants will engage with NJDOT practitioners and contractors who have first-hand experience in implementing the saw-cutting method on their projects successfully.

Discussion will include:
  • Benefits of saw-cutting vertical curbs
  • Implementation considerations
  • Successes and lessons learned
  • Resources to get you started
Lead States Team Expert Presenters and Panelists

Gary Liedtka-Bizuga, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Henry Jablonski, New Jersey Department of Transportation
Peter Harry, Jr., ML Ruberton Construction Co., Inc.
Rick Berenato, ML Ruberton Construction Co., Inc.

Click to learn more about the Saw Cut Vertical Curb innovation and the New Jersey Build a Better Mousetrap program.

NJ STIC 1st Quarter 2023 Meeting

The NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (NJ STIC) convened online for the 1st Quarter Meeting on March 15, 2023. The STIC Meeting Agenda had been distributed to the invitees prior to the meeting. Participants could use the chat feature to offer comments or ask questions of the speakers during the online meeting.

Welcome and Introductions.  Brandee Sullivan, NJDOT Innovation Coordinator, greeted the meeting participants, followed by Assistant Commissioner Michael Russo who provided the Welcome and Opening Remarks. He introduced a new Core Innovation Area Team, Planning and Environment, that will lead the implementation activities for two of the EDC-7 Innovations being addressed by the NJ STIC. The two EDC-7 innovations, EPDs for Sustainable Project Delivery, and Integrating GHG Assessment and Reduction Targets in Transportation Planning, will fall under the responsibility of this newly formed CIA Team.  Andrew Swords, NJDOT, and Sutapa Bandyopadhyay, FHWA, are the leads for this Team.

Asst. Commissioner Russo thanked Helene Roberts, Innovation Coordinator and Performance Manager for the FHWA NJ Office, who is retiring in April. He thanked Helene for her years of service, and her guidance and support in making the NJ STIC successful.  Mr. Russo introduced Robert Clark, Division Administrator for the FHWA NJ Office, who also thanked Helene for all her work. He noted that she is a Pavement and Materials engineer and has recently won two national awards.  In crediting Ms. Roberts for her significant work on behalf of the NJ STIC, Mr. Russo showed a timeline of the STIC’s development over more than 10 years of innovating, including being the recipient of two STIC Excellence Awards.

FHWA Innovation Updates. Helene Roberts spoke about the closeout of EDC-6 and provided a summary of the status of each innovation initiative at the end of the two-year period. She noted that Crowdsourcing for Advancing Operations and Virtual Public Involvement had reached the institutionalization stage.  The other EDC-6 Round innovations undertaken by the NJ STIC had not changed status at the close of the two-year period, but were on a path to continue to make progress by their respective teams.

Ms. Roberts also spoke about the EDC-7 National Summit recordings of which will be available on-demand for a year. Access to all of the recordings requires registration. Ms. Roberts noted NJ participation in the National Summit: Sal Cowan presented on Next-Gen TIM technologies in use by NJDOT, and Ted Ritter, NJTPA, and Jaclyn Davis, DVRPC, presented on Virtual Public Involvement at the National STIC Network Showcase. General information about the EDC-7 Virtual Summit can be found here along with a link to the event's agenda.  A short post about the NJ involvement at the FHWA Virtual Summit, including the referenced presentations, can be found here.

Amanda Gendek, Bureau of Research summarized the EDC-7 NJ Caucus proceedings held on February 22, 2023. She requested that those who participated in the NJ Caucus could still complete the Feedback Form (a link was shared) to help the NJDOT Bureau of Research in organizing future Caucus-related events.

Breakout Rooms: EDC-7 Conversations with Core Innovation Area Leads. The meeting continued with conversations with Core Innovative Area (CIA) leaders about the EDC-7 innovations being pursued by the NJ STIC. Attendees chose to join one of the five CIA Team breakout sessions: Safety; Infrastructure Preservation; Mobility and Operations; Organizational Improvement and Support; and Planning and Environment.  The sessions continued the discussions that began with the NJ STIC Caucus and reviewed the baseline status of each innovation, the stage of deployment goal for the innovation over the next two years. and implementation steps that could be taken to achieve the deployment goal.

Featured Presentation – Nighttime Visibility for Safety.  Two presentations highlighted research on lighting design guidance and various design improvements aligned with advancing Nighttime Visibility for Safety, an EDC-7 Innovation topic.

Leigh Ann Von Hagen, Managing Director, Active Transportation & Mobility Safety Group, Rutgers Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC), and Greg Woltman, Project Coordinator, summarized previous work on street lighting and the relationship of lighting to pedestrian and bicyclist crashes. Enhancing nighttime visibility for pedestrian and bicycle safety is the subject of a research effort on Life-Saving Lighting that Rutgers-VTC is beginning with researchers at Rowan University funded through the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center. This work will result in a lighting design guide for local jurisdictions. VTC requested input from people in the meeting through a Menti poll.  Anahita Kakhani, Graduate Research Assistant at Rowan, introduced herself as a member of the research team for preparing the lighting design guide.

Charu Jegan and Andrey Terentiev, NJDOT Bureau of Traffic Engineering, presented on safety countermeasures for Nighttime Visibility and pedestrian and bicyclist safety. NJDOT has been installing LED lighting on state highways; improving ADA accessibility for pushbuttons and voice command at crosswalks, and ensuring that pedestrian signal heads can be seen clearly from the crosswalk; installing traffic signal backplates with retroreflective tape; installing pedestrian-activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB); and evaluating the effectiveness of vertical illumination.  They discussed the benefits and challenges of these countermeasures.

Reminders and Updates.  Ms. Sullivan closed the meeting with information and reminders on the online location of several resources that highlight the NJ STIC and other innovation topics funded through research and technology transfer activities, including:

She announced that the 2023 Design Summit, sponsored by NJDOT, FHWA, and American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), has a theme of Innovation. The Summit will be held on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. NJDOT Bureau of Research will be gathering information from NJ stakeholders on EDC-7 initiatives through the use of QR-coded surveys.

Ms. Sullivan also announced that STIC Incentive Program funds are available. The FHWA offers these funds, as well as technical assistance, to support the standardization and advancement of innovative practices in a state transportation agency or other public sector STIC stakeholder. NJ STIC receives $100,000 each year. Ms. Sullivan asked that the STIC network members communicate these grant opportunities through their networks. Local public agencies are eligible to apply. Find more information, including examples of allowable activities and prior recipients, here.

Ms. Sullivan reminded attendees about the NJ Build a Better Mousetrap Competition. The deadline for entries is May 1, 2023. This year, state agencies can submit innovations to the national competition if the innovation is replicable in other agencies.  To learn more about the competition and see examples of past winners, go here, or download the entry form and guidance here.

Asst. Commissioner Russo provided closing remarks.

A recording of the NJ STIC March 2023 meeting can be found here.

The Meeting Presentations can be found in its entirety here or in sections below.

Welcome Remarks

FHWA EDC Innovation Updates

EDC-7 NJ Caucus Review & Feedback

Feature Presentation #1:
Nighttime Visibility for Safety, Rutgers-Voorhees Transportation Center with Rowan University

Feature Presentation #2:
Nighttime Visibility for Safety, NJDOT Bureau of Traffic Engineering

Reminders, Announcements, and Thank You

NJDOT Research Library


The NJDOT Research Library operates as a branch of the New Jersey State Library. Opened in 1962 as part of the Bureau of Research, of which it is still a part, the library is funded through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)’s State Planning and Research Program. The library provides efficient access to information related to all aspects of transportation.

The NJDOT Research Library provides reference and referral services to NJDOT employees at the NJDOT headquarters building and throughout the state, New Jersey state government employees, and members of the general public. Materials may be used onsite or, for state government employees, by loan. Library services are available in full to New Jersey state employees. The general public may use the collection by e-mail appointment.



  • Services include lending, literature review, and research.
  • Links to other resources including FHWA, AASHTO Publications, ASTM Standards, Exam Guides, and Statistics.
  • Access to TRB’s Transportation Research Information Databases to perform searches on “hot topics” and 37 other subject area categories.
  • Quick access to the LibGuide for Transportation at the NJ State Library.
  • Library orientation video explains the resources of the NJ State Library.


  • The NJDOT Research Library provides knowledge resources to transportation professionals in New Jersey so that they can plan, design, construct, and maintain a high-quality transportation system.


  • The on-site library is open, and the research librarian available, Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 3:30 pm
  • Online resources are available through the NJDOT Technology Transfer website


  • Materials, hard copy and electronic, available for loan
  • Online access to other databases and resources


  • Providing library services assists staff with acquiring needed information, connects staff to domestic and international research resources, and enables staff to prepare for professional examinations.
  • Providing quick access to often-used resources saves time for staff and ensures access to the most recent information, research, and standards.


  • NJDOT Research Library on the NJDOT Technology Transfer website


NJDOT’s Research Library Hosts Tool to Find Recent Transportation Research Publications

NJDOT's Research Library Hosts Tool to Find Recent Transportation Research Publications
NJDOT’s Research Library Hosts Tool to Find Recent Transportation Research Publications

NJ at the 2023 FHWA Virtual Summit

The FHWA EDC-7 Virtual Summit, held February 14-16, 2023, featured several New Jersey initiatives.

NJDOT’s Sal Cowan, Senior Director, Transportation Mobility, presented as a subject matter expert on Next Gen TIM: Technology for Saving Lives. He discussed NJDOT’s use of real-time notifications to commercial drivers, LED flares at incident scenes, and light towers on incident management response trucks for scene lighting. You can see his presentation here or the first video to the right.

As part of the National STIC Network Showcase, two New Jersey Metropolitan Planning Organizations, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), presented on techniques for Virtual Public Involvement. The MPOs used innovative strategies to increase public participation, particularly among traditionally underserved populations, in the long-range planning process. Click to see the presentation or see the second video to the right.

Six New Jersey innovations were included as part of the National STIC Network Innovation Showcase. Please click on the images below to find out more about these innovations that were implemented in the Garden State.

The FHWA EDC-7 Virtual Summit introduced the next round of innovative initiatives that merit widespread adoption by transportation agencies and other stakeholders.

General information on the EDC-7 Virtual Summit can be found here along with a link to the agenda for the event.

FHWA EDC-7 Virtual Summit Breakout: Next Gen TIM: Technology for Saving Lives

FHWA EDC-7 Virtual Summit | National STIC Network Showcase: Growing an Inclusive

NJDOT Tech Talk! Webinar – Research Showcase: Lunchtime Edition 2023

Please join us for the upcoming NJDOT Research Showcase Lunchtime Edition!

This Lunchtime Tech Talk! webinar features three research studies that we could not share at the 24th Annual Research Showcase held last October.

  • New Design and Performance Evaluation of Energy Harvesting from Bridge Vibration by Hao Wang, Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
  • Impacts of Vegetation, Porous Hot Mix Asphalt, Gravel and Bare Soil Treatments on Stormwater Runoff from Roadway Projects by Qizhong (George) Guo, Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
  • Practical Considerations of Geospatial Interpolation of Road Surface Temperature for Winter Weather Road Management by Branislav Dimitrijevic, New Jersey Institute of Technology

The Research Showcase is an opportunity for the New Jersey transportation community to learn about the broad scope of academic research initiatives underway and share technology transfer activities being conducted by institutions of higher education partners and their associates.  The upcoming Research Showcase Lunchtime Edition provides another forum to present the ongoing initiatives and benefits of research and the NJDOT research program.

The event is free, but registration is required to receive the URL link to the webinar.  PE credits are available, but you must be registered for the event. Click through the link below to register for this webinar event:

Research Showcase: Lunchtime Edition
Date:  Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Time: 12:00 – 1:30 PM

NJDOT Receives 2022 AASHTO Focus Technology Award

The American Association of State Hghway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Innovative Initiative (AII) program recognized NJDOT’s Sawcut Vertical Curb as one of seven Focus Technologies for 2022. This award goes to agencies for the successful implementation or deployment of a proven technology that has high potential to result in significant economic or qualitative benefits. Innovative technologies are judged on the state of development, payoff potential and market readiness.

The AII program is a “peer-to-peer innovation advancement program.” AII grants national recognition to the innovations as well as resources and support to enable the agency to assist peer transportation agencies in adopting the innovation. For more information on the AII program, see here.

Sawcut Vertical Curb also won the 2022 New Jersey Build a Better Mousetrap Award. For more information on this innovation, watch the video.

NJDOT Research Library TRID Database

Did you know…

The TRID Database is an integrated resource that combines the records from TRB’s Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) Database and the OECD’s Joint Transport Research Centre’s International Transport Research Documentation (ITRD) Database. TRID provides access to more than 1.4 million records of transportation research worldwide.

The NJDOT Research Library’s TRID Searches page provides a quick-access tool to research in the TRID Database on select topics and subjects. The “Hot Topics” searches list projects and publications issued over the last five years on several critical topics in transportation. The “TRID Database of Recent Publications” provides a list of recently issued publications by major Subject Area categories.

2-D Hydraulic Modeling User’s Forum Web Series

The FHWA 2-D Hydraulic Modeling User’s Forum webinar series periodically holds webinar events and conveys information about FHWA Resource Center opportunities, training opportunities, current software versions, FEMA guidance and other available resources.  The use of 2-D Hydraulic Modeling tools is promoted through the Every Day Counts Round 4 and 5 innovation Collaborative Hydraulics: Advancing to the Next Generation of Engineering (CHANGE).

For more information, please go to CHANGE.

Please refer to the links below if you are looking for previous meetings, training materials, and free software and tutorials:

A list of all previous 2D Hydraulic Modeling User’s Forum Meetings and links to the recordings is included below.  Meetings prior to March 2022 were held with Adobe Connect, and meetings after March 2022 in Zoom.

Web Links to web meeting recordings after March 2022 (Zoom)

A list of all previous 2D Hydraulic Modeling User’s Forum Meetings and links to the recordings is included below.  Meetings prior to March 2022 were held with Adobe Connect, and meetings after March 2022 in Zoom.

Web Links to web meeting recording links after March 2022 (Zoom)

April 7, 2022 – Colorado DOT 2D Modeling Success Stories

November 16, 2022 – Automated Bridge and Culvert Meshing Tools (PDF Slides)

November 16, 2022 – Automated Bridge and Culvert Meshing Demo

Web Link to web meeting recordings prior to March 2022

July 15, 2015 – SRH-2D Model DevelopmentAugust 26, 2015 – Managing information in SMS and reviewing results for adequacyApril 27, 2016 – Mesh Development and ReviewFebruary 2, 2017 – Evaluating bridge scour with 2D model resultsApril 19, 2017 – SRH-2D Boundary ConditionsJune 21, 2017 – Developing Terrain DataAugust 31, 2017 – Back to the Basics for mesh developmentOctober 18. 2017 – Potential mesh stability issues and solutionsJanuary 25, 2018 – CDOTs 2D modeling experienceMarch 1, 2018 – Nevada DOT terrain mapping with UAVsMay 31, 2018 – Bridge and Culvert Best Modeling PracticesAugust 20, 2018 – Minnesota Data Collection and Model CalibrationNovember 14,2018 – 2D Hydraulic Model ReviewJanuary 17, 2019 – New features in the SMS SRH2D interfaceMarch 14, 2019 – SRH-2D Model Development OverviewJune 18, 2019 – Importing and Compiling Terrain DataAugust 8, 2019 – Presenting and Exporting ResultsNovember 14,2019 – 2D Hydraulic Modeling Reference Document OverviewFebruary 20, 2020 – 2D Hydraulic Model Review – Terrain DataApril 4, 2020 – 2D Hydraulic Model Review – 2D MeshMay 13, 2020 – 2D Hydraulic Model Review – 2D Boundary Conditions and MaterialsJuly 16, 2020 – 2D Hydraulic Model Review – Hydraulic StructuresDecember 1, 2020 – What’s new in SMS 13.1 and SRH-2D 3.3March 2, 2021 -2D Hydraulic Model Review – Model Controls and Results (3D Bridges)June 17, 2021 – Understanding the Importance of Hydraulic Controls/Mesh ResolutionJanuary 13, 2022 – FEMA Flood Mapping Using 2D Modeling

Exploring Strategic Workforce Development: NJDOT’s Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program

Strategic Workforce Development, an innovative initiative of the Every Day Counts Program, suggests the importance of fostering an environment and partnerships favorable to training programs, pre-apprenticeship programs, and support for women and minorities in the construction workforce, among other strategies. NJDOT’s Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program promotes workforce development by supporting transportation-related community projects that engage youth and young adults in underserved communities. NJDOT partners with local government agencies, not-for-profits, community-based organizations and other entities with established youth programs to provide summer employment, as well as training and other supportive services, to the program participants working to improve gateway areas at state highways.

We interviewed Chrystal Section, Supervisor of the Non-Discrimination Programs Unit in the NJDOT’s Division of Civil Rights and Affirmative Action. The unit includes Title VI, Environmental Justice, Americans with Disabilities Act, Limited English Proficiency, and two special programs: the Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement program and the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI).

Q. The Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program has been operating since 1998. What prompted the start of the program?

Members of the Division of Civil Rights attended an AASHTO subcommittee conference on the program. Our division became very interested seeing that it would be beneficial to our youth and young adults in underserved communities. At the time, Civil Rights worked with NJDOT’s Adopt a Highway program to develop the Urban Gateway Enhancement Program.

Q. Is the NJDOT program affiliated with the NJ Department of Labor’s Youth Corps Program in New Jersey?

No. We do not work directly with the NJ Department of Labor Urban Youth Corps program. NJDOT implements the Urban Gateway Enhancement Program with the support of federal funding.

Q. What is your role with the program?

I am the project manager, and I work with the supervisors at the various agencies that are participating. I am responsible for outreach, the website presence including grant cycle announcement and application availability statewide, review of applications, award announcement letters, the kick-off meeting with all the funded organizations, ensuring recipients provide close-out documents for reimbursement, and providing the final project report to FHWA.

Q. How much funding is available to each applicant?

Up to $32,000 is available to each applicant organization.  At least 50 percent of the budget must be dedicated to the youth participants in earnings, training and supportive services. Teams are formed with approximately 6 to 10 youths. The funding also pays for the local supervisor, and equipment and supplies as needed.

Some of the applications request less than the grant cap, especially if the organization has participated previously and has purchased costly equipment already.

Q. What might be a typical hourly wage or stipend?

Participants are paid minimum wage, $15/hour, although some of the participating organizations have stipends, so they would pay them based on the stipend. The youths and young adults are not paid less than minimum wage. The participants work four to six hours per day for up to six to eight weeks during the summer.

Program participants may learn skills including the basics of landscaping, horticulture, and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements.
Program participants may learn skills including the basics of landscaping, horticulture, and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements.

Q. How do you get the word out about the program?

Our outreach includes sending letters to previous participants and mayors in underserved communities, and we send out a blast on all NJDOT social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and post the notice on the NJDOT website on the Civil Rights and Clean Up NJ webpages.

Q. How are participating organizations chosen?

We accept applications from any entity that fits the criteria set forth in the application. When I first started with the program, I worked primarily with Urban Enterprise Zones but the program has spread through word of mouth. We continue to focus on underserved communities. The applicants must have established youth programs. The goal of NJDOT’s program is to benefit youth and young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 who are economically or socially disadvantaged and who have experienced barriers to employment (e.g., the lack of a high school diploma, homelessness, teen parenting, being physically or mentally challenged, or an ex-offender).  These program participants receive training while receiving a paycheck.  Depending on the project, they will have an opportunity to learn the basics of urban forestry, landscaping, fabrication and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements, horticulture, construction inspection and materials testing.

Applicants have included cities, youth corps, churches, school districts, and other not-for-profit community-based organizations. Each community organization provides the program’s structure and supervision and also provides life skills, and safety and technical skills training. For examples of grantees and projects, please see Table 1.

As previously noted, some former funding recipients apply in subsequent years, often to continue maintenance on the original project site.

Q. Can you describe the process once you have received the applications?

We receive 14 applications on average each year, and we can usually fund up to 12. A team of 11 NJDOT subject matter experts (SMEs) serve on the application scoring team. These individuals are from several areas including Civil Rights, Local Aid & Economic Development, Community Outreach, Landscape, Project Management, Statewide Planning, Capital Planning and Management, and Operations. Representatives from these departments volunteer their time to review and individually score the applications and then we discuss the scoring and make the awardee selections.

In their applications, the organizations can list up to three site locations and specify the type of projects they will be working on at each location. The projects must be located at gateways to state roadways and be sited on land owned by the State, as NJDOT does not have jurisdiction over county and municipal roadways. Clean-up, maintenance, on-going maintenance from previous projects, anti-graffiti initiatives, planting flowers and trees, and other landscaping are typical projects.

Scoring of the applications takes into consideration whether the project is feasible and provides meaningful and productive work for the participants. Skills training, including work skills, life skills, and safety skills training should be included. Ensuring a safe environment, including providing COVID 19 personal protective equipment and protocols during the pandemic, is also a consideration. Scorers also look for local support for the projects.

Q. Once projects are awarded, what’s next? Does the program leverage the expertise or capabilities of NJDOT employees? How do NJDOT employees get involved in teaching or mentoring in the program?

When we have our kick-off meeting there are representatives from NJDOT Operations and Landscape present to answer any questions. As the project moves forward, we provide technical support as needed, either by meeting with the teams at the project site or answering questions by phone.

Members of the committee visit the project sites during the summer to provide feedback on the great work participants are doing, and to answer questions they may have

Q. What are the benefits of the program?

There are numerous benefits to both NJDOT and the program participants. NJDOT benefits from the opportunity to partner with non-profit agencies and community-based organizations and local governments. The program also provides a prospective employee pool for the Department. The participants benefit from learning about transportation and jobs that are available in the field, and in some cases from the mentorship by NJDOT employees. The participants also gain a sense of ownership of the sites, of pride in their accomplishments and their community. They learn new skills, including life skills, while earning a pay check. This work experience, and employment services offered through the organization, can help them when applying for jobs in the future. The community benefits from an improvement project that beautifies gateway areas so they are inviting to residents and visitors, and from having citizens who are engaged and better equipped to find a job.

Program participants may learn skills including the basics of landscaping, horticulture, and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements.
Program participants may learn skills including the basics of landscaping, horticulture, and installation of streetscape and pedestrian enhancements.

Q. What are challenges of the program?

There are three main challenges: continued maintenance of the project sites, obtaining increased funding for the program, and closing out projects in a timely manner at the end of the year.

Ensuring that maintenance is continued for these projects depends on the participating community organizations, as maintenance is not a grant requirement although highly desired. Many recipients have strong relationships with the municipal Department of Public Works (DPW), which may accept responsibility for continued maintenance of the project sites. Others apply for additional funding to maintain the sites.

We would also welcome increased funding that would enable us to support more projects and open the program up to more organizations in the state.

Regarding program close-out requirements, this program is a reimbursement program. At the end of the project, the organizations have to submit payment vouchers and receipts. Delays in the process are common due to the other priorities of the organizations, but NJDOT’s ability to secure new funding from FHWA depends on the successful close-out of the year’s projects. Sometimes, we have to skip a year of the program due to late reporting. For example, we awarded grants in 2021 but skipped the 2022 cycle.

Q. Are there any program changes being discussed?

I have been managing the program independently for the past two years, but I now have two new staff members who are excited about the program. Now that they have joined me, I will have capacity to reach out and see what other states are doing with similar programs to gather lessons learned.

Q. Is there a workforce development component to the program? Are program participants encouraged to apply to NJDOT for employment in Operations or other divisions, bureaus or units?

Our goal is to not limit our investment in these individuals to only summer employment, but to also open the door to employment at NJDOT. In January 2022, we invited our partner organizations to a meeting to make them aware of the Highway Operations Technician (HOT) positions available in Operations. We worked with Human Resources and the Manager of Operations to discuss the way the HOT program works, and the application process at NJDOT. Although there were no promises made for hiring, the organizations could make their youth and young adult program participants aware of these existing job opportunities. NJDOT considers this outreach a continuing investment in the on-the-job training. We hope to hold other meetings in the future when these or similar positions are available – positions that require the skills these individuals have developed through the program. We are looking at this initiative as a component of our workforce development program.

Q. Do you have an example of what you would consider a successful project?

I will give you the example of a Trenton-based program operated by Isles, a non-profit organization, which has been a funding recipient for several years. Their work has focused on a variety of beautification and land management tasks, including installation of a TRENTON sign at Barlow Circle, and improvements at plaza gateways, at the Motor Vehicle Commission building, and at ARTWORKS.

Projects led by Isles, Inc. in Trenton serve as some of the examples of this successful program.
Projects led by Isles, Inc. in Trenton serve as some of the examples of this successful program.

When our team of committee members went out to meet with the program participants who worked on this project, these young people were a little resistant to engage with us at first. But when we toured the project sites together and they had the opportunity to explain their contributions and what they learned, you could see a positive change. They were proud of their accomplishments and happy to share that with us. They were not only earning money but learning skills, including how to prepare a resume and other life skills. It is truly meaningful when we as NJDOT employees have the chance to go out and meet with these young people and have an exchange where they can ask questions about the work we are doing, and we can build relationships.

You can always give funding, but it becomes so meaningful when you have the chance to spend half the day with these young men and women and find out about their work, interests and goals. Overall, it is a wonderful experience to oversee this program for NJDOT, to help make communities beautiful, and see lives positively changing from our efforts.

Grantee OrganizationMunicipalityCountyProject Locations
The Work GroupCity of CamdenCamden• Grassy triangle at Admiral Wilson Boulevard and Bank Street
• Exit 3 off 676 North at Morgan Street
City of East Orange Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training (MOET)  City of East OrangeEssex• Freeway Drive-East
• Freeway Drive-West
• North Oraton Parkway (Main Street overpass)
• Ampere Plaza- 4th Avenue
Groundwork ElizabethCity of ElizabethUnion• Kellogg Park
• Mattano Park
• McPherson Park
City of Long BranchCity of Long BranchMonmouth• Jackson Woods Park, Route 36
New Brunswick Board of Education/New Jersey Youth Corps of Middlesex CountyCity of New BrunswickMiddlesex• War Memorial Park, New Brunswick- Route 27- Lincoln Highway (Northbound) and Route 91 a spur of Route 1- Jersey Avenue (Southbound)
• Buccleuch Park, New Brunswick- County Road 527- Easton Avenue (Northbound) and New Jersey State Road Route 18 (Northbound)
• Recreation Park, New Brunswick- Route 171 Jersey Avenue (Northbound)
City of PassaicCity of PassaicPassaic• Madison Street, NJ Route 21 Exit
New Jersey Youth Corps of PatersonCity of PatersonPassaic• Route 80
• Route 20
• Various entrances or gateways to the City of Paterson, NJ
City of Perth AmboyCity of Perth AmboyMiddlesex• Route 35 (Convery Boulevard) and Route 184 (Pfeiffer Boulevard)
• South-West Corner of Smith Street Convery Boulevard (Route 35) and Riverview Drive
• Outer High Street and Route 440 Ramp
• NJ-184 (Lincoln Drive)
New Jersey Youth Corps of PhillipsburgTown of PhillipsburgWarren• NJ 122 (Alt 22) South Main Street 900 Block
• South Main Street (Union Square to Walters Park)
• US Rte. 22 and Roseberry Street (NW Corner)
New Jersey Youth Corps of Atlantic CountyCity of PleasantvilleAtlantic• Delilah Road and Franklin Avenue
Isles, Inc.City of TrentonMercer• Route 1/Perry Street. Interchange & adjacent Roberto Clemente Park- on/off ramp, strip between on-ramp and park
• Route 1/Market Street at Stockton/Mill Hill Park- on/off ramps, MVC building, planned Artwalk and “Trenton” landscaped sign
• Market Street Plaza- gateways that connect Route 1 with Mill Hill and Market Street/Broad Street intersection and corridor
Table 1: NJDOT Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program Grantees for 2021


NJDOT Youth Corps Urban Gateway Enhancement Program