As much as individual projects play an integral role in developing our regions as parts, regional plans themselves (and other plans of increasing scale) are also essential to providing a larger scope for future endeavors. These regional plans lay out the framework for what many would consider to be a higher standard of development and planning for the rest of the region they cover. The philosophies implanted in these ideas can help serve planners in the future in creating a better vision for their locales.
fourthplan.org’s depiction of the Tri-state area and focal points
Previously, the Third Regional plan dated from 1996 was of a similar scope; enhance transit services and protect open spaces. The Fourth Regional Plan is extensive and ambitious, covering the area of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut (the focus of the Regional Planning Association or RPA). It cites values of equity, health, prosperity, and sustainability. A large part of this plan has specified efforts towards the repair and improvement of existing facilities and services to the public. This is an essential area of concern; rarely is there sufficient resources for a complete rebuild from the ground up of. Of course on a large scale, the core elements of this plan all involve redevelopment of entire municipalities and counties.
Additionally, the plan extensively references situations regarding climate change and ecological issues. Seeing as the issue of global warming has skyrocketed in the past two decades, it is beneficial that this plan can make ends meet with its proposals. By instilling “green” ways of thinking and development on a larger scale, this influence can hopefully trickle down to smaller localities in their own planning endeavors.
The nine locations focused on by the plan
Another core element of this plan is the planned redevelopment of the Northeast Corridor, among other components of mass transit. Fortunately in this part of the nation, the rail and road systems are decently supplanted and see frequent use, but the seemingly eternal issues of congestion and delays have wrecked havoc upon commuters of virtually any area. As a student with an interest in transportation, this subject matter fascinates me extensively, and I would be very interested to see what is in store in the coming decades for this region. Subways, bus terminals, city streets, and of course rail are some of the many areas covered under this plan. This naturally impacts regions beyond the Tri-state area also, as rail and air travel have existed largely as focal points in this region of the nationwide network of transport.
Regional planning offers us insight and perspective as to what our future may look like as inhabitants of New Jersey. It is undoubtedly a far more difficult and seemingly insurmountable task to try and plan an entire region as opposed to just a small town. Nevertheless, there is still a necessity for such a plan to exist, for without a bigger picture in mind there will be significantly more discontent among the people. We can hopefully aspire to see plans like this ignite a passion in the rest of us planners to help shape the future of our work.