The city of Hoboken on Monday unveiled its first vision for the upcoming Washington Street redesign project at a community meeting, briefing residents on a plan that would seek to make biking and crossing streets safer, parking easier, and strolling more pleasant.
The project, which could begin as early as the fall if Mayor Dawn Zimmer can convince the City Council to cover the cost by bonding, would overhaul nearly the entire stretch of the city’s 15-block-long main street.
“You can see that Washington Street is the heart and soul of Hoboken and currently it requires a lot of work,” said Zimmer on Wednesday. “This is really something that needs to get done and it needs to get done now.”
As it is, Washington Street is rife with potholes leftover from a brutal winter, lined with outdated traffic lights and double-parked cars, and contains no bike lanes, forcing cyclists onto the sidewalk in a way that endangers pedestrians.
“This is really something that needs to get done and it needs to get done now.” – Mayor Dawn Zimmer
The policy, adopted in 2010, ensures that any construction done to Hoboken streets is planned with the mutual safety of pedestrians, cyclists, commuters and motorists in mind. The planning process going forward, Zimmer said, would be decided within the boundaries of the policy.
The vision includes several options for adding bike lanes up and down the street.
Furthermore, Zimmer said that the vision contains provisions to improve the parking situation on Washington Street. Currently, metered parking spots on Washington designed for visitors to the city are situated exclusively south of Eighth Street (with the exception of the 1400 block of Washington Street, which is not part of the redesign). North of Eighth is exclusively by residential or business permit, or four free hours for visitors.
The result, Zimmer said, is that many visitors take the four free hours instead of paying for parking and leaving the permit spots for residents and employees. The new vision suggests meshing the two systems across a few blocks, so that residents uptown will have an easier time parking.
Additionally, the plan calls for new way-finding signs to direct visitors to the city’s parking garages.
The design aspects of the project mesh with Zimmer’s plan to make Hoboken more resilient to flooding and storms. Instead of standard tree pits along the sidewalk, the plan calls for deeper pits that could retain stormwater and reduce flooding. And the curbs would dip near the trees so that water in the streets would flow into the pits.
The redesign will also benefit local businesses, said Zimmer. Citing a study of complete streets undertaken recently by New York City, the mayor argued that completing the redesign using the redesign could bolster the local economy.
The studied showed that where business increased by 2 or 3 percent on regular streets last year, on streets where the city had built complete streets, business increased by almost 50 percent.
More meetings to come
Monday’s meeting was only the second of three meetings the city has scheduled before Zimmer plans to submit a final proposal to the City Council for approval. Based on the vision outlined on Monday, the city has posted a survey on its website to gauge community reaction that will then influence a final proposal to be unveiled at a meeting to be announced soon. All of the information presented on Monday, and the survey, can be found at www.hobokennj.org/washingtonstreet.
The city is also undertaking several similar community processes for other projects around town. Last week city spokesman Juan Melli announced the following public meetings: a meeting about a possible future park at the corner of Seventh and Jackson streets (Jubilee Center, 601 Jackson St. on Thursday, May 15 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, May 17 from 10 a.m. to noon), the Neumann Leathers Building Redevelopment Site (Tuesday, May 20 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the conference room in the Multi-Service Center, 124 Grand St.), the Sinatra Drive redesign project from Fourth Street to Eleventh Street (Thursday, May 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Multi Service Center, located at 124 Grand St.), and the Hoboken Cove Boathouse project (Monday, May 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the community room in the Multi-Service Center located at 124 Grand St.)
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org