The South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO) is working collaboratively with state and local agencies to address identified safety concerns within the SJTPO region, with funding through the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). The purpose of the HSIP is to achieve a significant reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads through a data-driven, strategic approach to improving highway safety. This includes roadways on and off the federal aid system, regardless of ownership.

Program Overview

Applying for funding through SJTPO’s Local Safety Program requires applicants to follow an intuitive five-step, data driven process. The Project Application and this document (Program Guidance) direct applicants through that process.

Within the current new transportation reauthorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) greater emphasis has been placed on performance measurement and project evaluation; the HSIP is on the leading edge in addressing this demand. To ensure the spirit of federal guidance is satisfied and that projects chosen are truly worthy investments, data drives the SJTPO Local Safety Program project development process in every step.

Local Safety Program funding may be used for all phases of a project, including design, right-of-way acquisition, construction, and construction inspection. Assistance with final design of safety projects is being offered by SJTPO.

Design Assistance

In an effort to remove a common barrier to submitting safety projects for consideration, SJTPO is offering final design assistance. SJTPO will serve as Project Managers for consultant-led design services after projects are selected and approved for Local Safety Program funding. Applicants can request assistance by checking a box as part of their Local Safety Program application.

Data-Driven Approach

Step 1 – Location Selection

Project locations must generally be selected in one of two ways: using the “hot spot” approach, by selecting off one of four network screening lists, or using the systemic approach, based on the geometric traits of a series of locations. SJTPO will work to incorporate safety improvements based on both the hot spot and systemic approaches.

Hot Spot Approach (Network Screening Lists): To apply for a project at a hot spot, applicants are strongly encouraged to select locations from one of the Network Screening lists developed for each county, below. Working with Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) and the Plan4Safety crash analysis tool, four different network screening lists were developed for the SJPTO region. The lists were developed identifying high crash locations in the SJTPO region, utilizing a data-driven process. For project locations not on one of the Network Screening lists above, applicants must sufficiently demonstrate a significant (three-year) crash history.

Systemic Approach: An alternative and complementary approach to the traditional site analysis is the systemic approach to safety, which takes a broader view and looks at risk across an entire roadway system rather than managing risk at certain locations. This approach provides a more comprehensive method for safety planning and implementation. Local safety projects are designed to improve safety by minimizing or eliminating risk to roadway users.

Centerline Rumble Strips: Installation of a centerline rumble strips are one of the proven countermeasures that reduce the risks of cross centerline crashes and is a good example of a systemic approach to safety. To help promote the installation of this safety improvement in the SJTPO region a candidate list of centerline rumble strip locations was compiled with the assistance of the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Data and Safety. Minimum lane width, shoulder width, and posted speed limit were used as variables in the screening lists for centerline rumble strips.

Lists of Roadways Eligible for Centerline Rumble Strips

Horizontal Curve Treatment: A proven countermeasure for some horizontal curves includes a combination of enhanced signage and high friction surface treatment. Based upon Minnesota’s experience, a 1,200 foot radius or smaller was selected as a maximum radius to consider for installation of the treatment package. To discuss piloting a project in your jurisdiction, contact Alan Huff at (856) 794-1941 or via email at ahuff@sjtpo.org.

More information related to the systemic approach (including installation of centerline rumble strips) can be found on FHWA’s Safety website. This method looks at geometric characteristics of a series of roadways in a larger area that are statistically tied to crashes. A balanced safety program includes projects at both hot spot locations as well as a systemic application of a treatment.

Step 2 – Problem Identification

This step provides an understanding of the crash patterns and examines the geometric and physical characteristics of the location, providing a diagnosis of the location. Whereas, the network screening provides a broad look at the number of crashes, the crash analysis in this step should investigate the types of crashes and circumstances around the crash history to identify patterns. These patterns will provide additional details related to the cause of the crashes and help diagnose the safety concern, leading to an improvement that will directly link to the problem at the location. It is not enough to select a location from the Network Screening lists; having a good location does not directly translate into a good project. However, proper diagnose of the problem can help to identify a good project.

Applicants must include a full three-year crash history of the location in Excel format. Applicants are highly encouraged to contact SJTPO prior to collecting crash history.

Road Safety Audits (RSAs): Road safety audits are an important tool in advancing quality safety projects and can be a valuable component in SJTPO’s data-driven approach. Once a project location has been identified from the Network Screening lists (Step 1), the site analysis in an RSA can be utilized in problem identification (Step 2) and countermeasure selection (Step 3). As a result, locations from the network screening where an RSA has occurred are likely excellent locations to pursue for local safety funding.

With the assistance of the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), the RSA and road safety scan (RSS) locations over the last few years have been mapped and overlaid with the Network Screening locations. These overlap locations should be strongly considered for potential project locations.

Road Safety Audit Reports, by County (Google Docs)

Step 3 – Countermeasure Selection

The selection of an appropriate countermeasure is a key step in the process which addresses the problems identified at the location. For locations selected based on Network Screening locations, countermeasure(s) must address the type(s) of crash(es) at the particular location on the Network Screening list. For a systemic approach, countermeasures must address the geometric trait(s) related to a specific crash type. FHWA has studied and identified nine safety countermeasures that are statistically proven to address specific crash types. These should be considered in all HSIP projects.

Step 4 – Benefit-Cost Analysis

It is not enough to simply have a location with a crash history and apply the correct countermeasures; projects must also provide a benefit that exceeds their cost of construction. To this end, all projects must include an estimate of cost as well as additional information (Appendix A) that SJTPO will utilize to perform a Highway Safety Manual (HSM) analysis. This analysis will be utilized to determine the safety benefits of the entire project. This step in the process is not applicable for systemic applications.

Step 5 – Technical Committee Review

The final step in SJTPO’s data-driven Local Safety Program project selection process is review by a Technical Review Committee (TRC), comprised of SJTPO staff and NJDOT staff including Local Aid, Bureau of Environmental Resources, and Bureau of Data and Safety. Members of the TRC evaluate the projects to determine if the proposed improvements address the identified problems and would be a good use of local safety dollars. In addition, the TRC would assess whether the project is “shovel ready” and can be constructed within the short Local Safety Program timeline and determine if there are any “fatal flaws” that may require delaying the project until a later year, such as right-of-way acquisition or unaddressed environmental concerns.