Monday, June 26, 2006

Jersey Traffic to Worsen

From the Daily Record:

No easy solution for projected traffic crunch

It's what most road commuters have learned to expect: more traffic and a longer drive to work and home. That's the prognosis for people traveling on Route 287 in the coming years
Traffic along a stretch of the interstate between Middlesex and Somerset counties, for example, is expected to rise by as much as 10 percent in four years. In less than 25 years, it will increase by 35 percent along the same stretch, according to one forecast.

North of Route 78, traffic is expected to grow by 2.5 percent in four years and 20 percent by 2030. Under those scenarios, the ride-home drive time could finally make the full transition from the rush hour to the rush evening.

"Obviously, if these projections come to pass, it's going to be a nightmare," said Jeffrey Zupan, senior fellow for transportation with the Regional Plan Association, an independent nonprofit group.

For Zupan, more traffic means more money, lots of it, in terms of the tax burden on towns along the stretch and the lost revenue of businesses having trouble with worker arrivals.
"I predict as far as volumes for commuting, it's not going to come close," said Steve Carrellas, who cites telecommuting as one reason for his optimism.

"Once you have the basic infrastructure, as far as the software goes, people don't have to go to the office," said Carrellas, state chapter coordinator for the National Motorists Association.

Carrellas, who has worked with the NJTPA, stressed that the forecasts do not take into account telecommuting, the high cost of gas and other future trends. Even if the worst predictions come true, he said higher volumes don't have to mean more tie-ups and slowdowns.


Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Where's everyone moving?

It's the ultimate public finance question. More people leads to more tax money, which leads to more development, and a more prosperous and vibrant place to live. The municipality's credit
rating improves, investors take notice, and it becomes easier and
cheaper to borrow money.

Fewer people means less tax money and a sad, downward spiral. There's a certain charm in living in places that are emptying out, unless, of course, you like things like supermarkets, doctors, dentists and the like relatively close by. It's a pretty simple equation.

Who's winning? Who's losing? The question was answered this week by the U.S. Census Bureau, with the publication of its ``Cumulative Estimates of Population Change for Incorporated Places over 100,000, Ranked by Percent Change.''

The bureau put out two versions of this report, with one covering population change from July 1, 2004, to July 1, 2005, and the other with a longer view, from April 1, 2000, to July 1, 2005. Municipal analysts favor the longer view.

It looks like everyone's moving to California. Those who aren't, are moving to Arizona or Florida. Of the top 20 places with the biggest increases in population, eight are in California, three are in Arizona and three in Florida. Two are in Nevada, and the remainder are scattered among North Carolina, Texas, Colorado and Illinois. Of the top 50 fastest-growing places, almost half are in California or Arizona. None of this is especially surprising to those who have followed the boom in real estate prices.

Happy Problem

More population is a happy problem for public officials. You
have to build more stuff, like schools and sewers and streets.
You may even have to find more places for people to stay, and
approve applications from housing developers.

There's a whole pathology to places that are losing
population, too. Taxes have to increase for those who remain, as
the locality endeavors to maintain the same level of services, at
least for a time. In some places, they cut taxes in an attempt to
lure newcomers, but tax rates generally only fall when a
municipality throws in the towel, and starts shutting down
schools, and grass starts growing in the streets.

Didn't you wonder about ``ghost towns'' when you were a kid?
Those were places that died after the gold in the mines ran out,
or after all the oil was pumped, or when the Dust Bowl reclaimed
the farms. Every time the Census Bureau comes out with reports on
how the population is moving, I think about ghost towns.

Winners, Losers

The big winner in terms of population was Gilbert, Arizona,
which gained 63,928 people between April 2000 and July 1, 2005,
growing to 173,989 from 110,061. That's an increase of 58

North Las Vegas, Nevada, increased 53 percent during that period, growing to 176,635 from 115,488. Port St. Lucie, Florida, rose 48 percent, Miramar, Florida, climbed 47 percent and Elk Grove, California, jumped 39 percent.

Who were the big losers in terms of population? Cincinnati's
population declined by 22,555 people between April 2000 and July
2005, or 6.8 percent, shrinking to 308,728 from 331,283. Detroit
also fell 6.8 percent, losing 64,599 people. New Orleans was
next, losing 6.2 percent of its population, and this was well
before the Katrina disaster. Pittsburgh lost 5.3 percent of its
population. Rounding out the bottom five was Cleveland, which
shed 5.3 percent of its inhabitants.

Old Cities

In the surest sign that people continue to move to the
suburbs, and even places beyond the suburbs, the so-called
exurbs, the new Census Bureau report didn't contain cheery news
for big, old cities, in general.

Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, the District of
Columbia, Chicago, Milwaukee and Baltimore all placed in the
bottom 50, losing population. So did Memphis, Tennessee;
Richmond, Virginia; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Buffalo, New York; and
Birmingham, Alabama.

There were of course exceptions to the rule. The bright lights still draw people, no matter what their apparent physical and financial discomforts may be. Los Angeles gained 4.1 percent in population during the 2000 to 2005 period; New York City added 1.7 percent. Some places just have real star power.

(Joe Mysak is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

I wonder what will be the effect in NNJ areas due to recent increases in Property Taxes. We have all read that NNJ has increasing outward migration, that out to have impace on RE prices.

6/26/2006 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

US population expected to top 300 million in fall

The US population is on target to hit 300 million this fall, with Hispanic newborns and immigrants accounting for a large part of the increase.

6/26/2006 06:14:00 AM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

Article from Economist,

American inflation Feeling the heat

But much of that jump is thanks to a sharp rise in the cost of housing (which makes up almost 40% of core CPI), particularly the category of “owners' equivalent rent” which estimates the cost of living in a house by looking at rents charged on similar properties. Although this measure makes sense in theory (by living in your house you forgo rental income), it may now be overstating inflationary pressure.

As the housing market has slowed, fewer people are buying property, choosing to rent instead. That has pushed up rents. In turn, owners' equivalent rent has risen too, even though homeowners have seen no change in the actual costs of owning their house. Because owners' equivalent rent is estimated net of utility prices, recent falls in gas and electricity bills have paradoxically made matters worse.

6/26/2006 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger grim said...

The Big Picture takes a little stab at that piece in the economist..

CPI Null Set (via The Economist)


6/26/2006 06:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rent in West NY off of River Road. It is already clogged w traffic, as it goes down to only 1 lane. What do I see - nothing but more high density condos being built. The city just wants its prop tax money - absolutely nothing went to urban planning. I can see traffic on this road coming to a complete standstill in the morning rush. They put in a local light rail that no one uses as it does not go to NYC, so that was a brilliant idea. I will tell you - I live there for a quick commute. If the traffic there gets too bad - Im gone with a lot of other renters. If Im going to have an hour plus commute - I might as well do that in the burbs.

6/26/2006 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Elric said...

From the original article:

"I predict as far as volumes for commuting, it's not going to come close," said Steve Carrellas, who cites telecommuting as one reason for his optimism.

"Once you have the basic infrastructure, as far as the software goes, people don't have to go to the office," said Carrellas, state chapter coordinator for the National Motorists Association.

Keep dreaming, Steve. The infrastructure to enable large-scale telecommuting has been in place for years.

Grrr. Working in IT, this is a sore subject for me.

In my (albeit anecdotal) experience there is massive cultural inertia against telecommuting in corporate America. A fortunate few get to telecommute for a portion of their work week, but I believe it is rare to find employers who are sufficiently open-minded regarding this.

The reasons for this are many, and would probably justify an entirely separate discussion.

6/26/2006 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger grim said...

If an IT position can be done remotely, it will be done remotely.

That, almost always, means the task will be performed outside of the U.S.

Why pay someone a NJ/NY salary if the task can be done remotely?


6/26/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Elric said...

Your point is valid, but you make it sound like an absolute, which I disagree with. If it were, there would effectively be no IT in NY/NJ, save for the administrative tasks which require a person on site, or the extreme specialist who cannot be replaced by anyone.

It is my belief that probably 4 out of every 5 IT jobs could be done remotely at least part of the time. Many of these are outsourced, many are not.

Whether or not you employer outsources a position does not necessarily imply that the position could not be done remotely. It just means that they choose not to outsource it, for whatever reason.

OT: Thanks for the great site Grim!

6/26/2006 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Roadtripboy said...

The real estate boom over the past 5 years or so has resulted in an explosion of new housing. The problem is there has not been an equivalent explosion in the development of infrastructure to support the increased population levels.

How many more lanes can be added to I-287? Another poster mentioned River Road in West New York/Edgewater. I remember in the mid-90s that road was pretty sleepy. Now it can be a parking lot during rush hours. Ditto for Newport in Jersey City. That area used to be pretty dead. Now a drive down Washington is an exercise in frustration with traffic, lights, pedestrians crossing everywhere.

Excessive traffic is yet one more reason that NJ will struggle to maintain it's population (add it to the list along with high property taxes)

6/26/2006 11:36:00 PM  

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