Healthier Somerset: County identifying trail, path improvements

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Walter C. Lane | Healthier Somerset
August 3, 2019
mycentraljersey.com

Approximately 93.3 million adults are affected by obesity according to the 2015-2016 National Center for Health Statistics data brief. Somerset County is no exception to this obesity trend.

According to the Somerset County 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), 61.9% of Somerset County residents are overweight or obese (higher in those with less than a college education) and the percent of Somerset County residents reporting no leisure time physical activity between 2015-2016 trended upward from 15.8% in 2014 to 23.6% in 2016.

Through the obesity sub-committee, members of Healthier Somerset are actively working to address this health concern and identify ways within the community to help curb the epidemic of obesity. One such example is being spearheaded by the Planning Division of the Somerset County Department of Public Works through an assessment of the vast number of trails and paths throughout the county.

With input from residents, Somerset County has identified over 200 potential enhancements that can be made to trails, shared-use paths and on-road facilities that will improve mobility and safety for people of all ages and abilities who want to walk, bike and hike in the community.

These enhancements were identified during a “Walk, Bike, Hike: Connecting Vibrant Communities” study that included extensive public outreach. The Somerset County Planning Division implemented a collaborative community engagement process, including more than two dozen meetings, which provided numerous opportunities for discussion, assessment and comment. The outreach efforts resulted in hundreds of written comments and more than 1,600 responses to an online survey and crowd-sourced mapping application.

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