Bridge Commission’s “Learning Bridge” Named Harvard University’s “Bright Idea”
Competitive Program Recognizes Innovative Government Programs
Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman John Comegno announced that the Commission’s “Learning Bridge” was selected among 600 applications for the Bright Ideas program administered by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The unprecedented, cutting-edge educational initiative that transformed the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge into the first “living laboratory” for engineering students from local colleges was one of only three “Bright Ideas” recipients in New Jersey.
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“The ‘Learning Bridge’ concept was already a winner,” said Comegno, “but for a leading educational institution like Harvard to recognize it as a promising government program and partnership—that’s smart technology on so many levels.” He credited his fellow Commissioners, Pennoni Associates (the Commission’s resident engineer) and Drexel University with supporting and developing the initiative, which has enhanced the safety and improved the Commission’s historically significant bridges.
Bright Ideas, a complement to the long-standing Innovations in American Government Awards Program, is designed to recognize and share creative government initiatives around the country with interested public sector, nonprofit, and academic communities, providing government agencies with a collection of new solutions that can be considered and adopted quickly.
The Learning Bridge fit the Bright Ideas concept because it challenges the way engineers are trained by observing and monitoring how active bridges are designed, operated, and managed over their lifecycles. It also explores how to use technology to transform real structures into living laboratories and project them into the classroom.
“As a former educator, I’m gratified that this initiative was named a ‘Bright Idea’, but the real winners are the students who have an opportunity for hands-on experiences on our bridges and the motorists who use our safe and affordable bridges every day,” said Commissioner Priscilla Anderson.
“As a member of the Board of Trustees of Rowan University, I am excited that we’re part of pioneering a new way to teach engineering studies,” Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added. “The Bridge Commission can literally change the way engineers learn while it reaps direct benefits from their real-time studies.”
As a member of the inaugural group of Bright Ideas, the Commission will join those winners whose programs will serve as a cornerstone of a new online community where innovative ideas are proposed, shared, and disseminated.
The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers, assists Burlington County municipalities in economic development and community revitalization projects and extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of approximately $14 million dollars and more than $9 million dollars in grant monies for municipalities.
BCBC Economic Development & Regional Planning Staff Honored with “Outstanding Plan Award” for Participation in City’s Master Plan
The Department of Economic Development and Regional Planning was one of the key participants and authors of the City of Burlington 2010 Master Plan, which received the Outstanding Plan Award from the New Jersey Chapter of American Planning Association (NJAPA). The Chapter recognized the plan because it had “unusually high merit…[in] neighborhood, economic development, conservation, transportation and other comprehensive plans” according to correspondence from NJAPA President Courtenay Mercer.
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Since 1995, the Office of Economic Development and Regional Planning has provided professional planning assistance to municipalities in Burlington County. That assistance included, but was not limited to, the preparation of master plans, zoning ordinances, redevelopment plans and studies, housing plans, economic development plans and other planning documents.
Up until July of this past year the Office was under the auspices of the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, so the award will honor the County and the Department, along with the City of Burlington and its two consultants, Environmental Resources Inc and Alberto and Associates. Recognition will take place at the November 5, 2010 NJAPA Conference.
We’re proud of the high level of professional planning provided by the Economic Development and Regional Planning staff, which benefits Burlington County municipalities in many ways:
- having a realistic and implementable planning document that will guide communities toward a better future,
- providing communities with insights and information about current issues and concerns and potential solutions for their evaluation and decision-making that may be applied to their communities,
- providing professional planning services at no cost in an effort to further reduce costs to local taxpayers as part of the ongoing shared services efforts of the Bridge Commission and the County.
For more information about how the Economic Development and Regional Planning staff can help your municipality, call (609) 265-5055 or email us at email@example.com
Palmyra Cove Nature Park & Tacony-Palmyra Bridge — Centers of Learning
Rowan University students and faculty were at PNCP on October 18th conducting water science studies and on October 20th University of the Arts students tested shelters of their own design and construction during an overnight in the park. For the first time, one shelter was a floater—it was tested on the river close to shore (its designers spent the night on solid ground).
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In October, more than 220 high school and college students will use the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge as their classroom, all part of the Learning Bridge initiative. Workshops with Drexel University faculty will take place October 20th with BCIT high school students and Philadelphia Schools’ teachers and again on October 27th with Brooklyn Tech high school students. The bridge model on display in PCNP’s Environmental Discovery Center and data from instruments that measure pressures on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge will be used as teaching tools.
Dracula Comes to PCNP
Get your Halloween treats early at the lecture, “The Historical Dracula,” on Thursday, October 28th from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at Palmyra Cove Nature Park. Rider University professor Joe Wojie will talk about the real life escapades of Vlad the Impaler, which provided the foundation for Abraham Stoker’s popular character “Dracula.” Sponsored by the Palmyra Historical Society, a reception will follow. For more information call 856-829-1900, ext. 264.