The city may undertake construction on Newark Street to make it safer for motorists and pedestrians, according to a public meeting held on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Multi Service Center.
Roughly 40 residents filled the community room to hear a presentation by project designers Kimley-Horn.
According to project manager Adam Gibson, Newark Street may soon have curb bump outs, a mid-block raised crosswalk, a protected bike lane along the southern side of the street, unprotected sharrows on the northern side of the street, additional crosswalks, dedicated loading zones, flashing lights, and green space.
“It’s a balancing act, making sure the cars can flow through, but that it is totally safe for pedestrians,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “I live in this neighborhood, so I understand the concerns about this area. Cars don’t stop, and the idea is to change that.”
“These improvements will hopefully make drivers a little uncomfortable driving,” Gibson said, “so they pay more attention and are more likely to stop, including narrowing the roadway with bike lanes and bump outs.
At the intersection of Willow Avenue and Newark Street, the proposal includes two bump outs on the northern side of Willow Avenue with a loading zone on the northwest corner. On the southeast corner there is potential landscaping.
At the intersection of Newark and Clinton streets, there will be curb bump outs on the northern side of Newark Street shortening the crosswalk across Clinton Street.
On the southern side of this intersection will be a protected bike lane and a painted jug handle for cyclists to turn left, and a new crosswalk across Newark Street connecting to the northwestern corner.
At Newark and Grand streets there will be a new crosswalk across Newark Street from the northeast to southeast with landscaping to the east. There will also be a bump out at this corner and a painted bump out to the northwest corner of Grand Street. This intersection will also have a potential Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) sign which flashes alternating lights, much like a police vehicle, when a crosswalk button is pushed to alert drivers of a crossing pedestrian.
At Newark and Adams streets there could be a bumpout on the northwestern side shorting the crosswalk across Adams Street met by a painted and textured bumpout on the northeastern corner. There is also a proposed loading zone along the northwestern side of this intersection.
At Newark and Jefferson streets there would be a new partially-raised crosswalk to the east of the intersection connecting the north side of Newark Street to Observer Highway. This intersection may also utilize the RRFB signal. There is also potential landscaping space along the northeastern corner of Jefferson and Newark streets.
The southern bike lane will be protected by bollards and will begin at the intersection of Observer Highway and Newark Street and head north on Newark Street to Willow Avenue. The northern shared bike lane will span the same blocks.
The plan also proposes additional signs such as “bikes yield to pedestrians” and “pedestrian ahead” signs, directional signs, and upgrades to existing crosswalks.
Neil Blecher, a resident of the area, asked why the city hadn’t considered a traffic signal.
“Why are we using flashing signs and no traffic lights?” said Blecher. “It still seems like a relatively long corridor without any real traffic control.”
Gibson said traffic volume off the side streets is not high enough to warrant a traffic signal.
Neighbor Ron Rosenberg suggested a stop sign and lit crosswalks.
“It isn’t uncommon for us to take to the road hands up to oncoming cars to cross.” – Ron Rosenberg
Gibson said there are crosswalks that imbed lights in the pavement. “This is a step by step process. We started with the basic functions and now we are going to the next step. We haven’t yet discussed lights in the sidewalk or road but it is something we can look at.”
Rosenberg said, “It isn’t uncommon for us to take to the road hands up to oncoming cars to cross.”
“I think this is going to make a significant change in our safety, at least for residents in my building and incoming Neumann Leathers building years from now,’ said Rosenberg.
Resident Jim Vance wondered when the project could begin.
“It needs to be done now,” said Vance. “In this town it takes forever to get anything done.”
Zimmer said they are trying to take a proactive approach and will get feedback from the public and the county before finalizing the project plan. “We are looking to get this done this year.”
Councilman Michael DeFusco asked if there would be a loss of parking spots. Gibson said there would not.
Hoboken resident Angela Montero said as a mother in the area with small children, the new second crosswalk at Newark and Grand streets would make her feel safer.
“It makes me feel safer because of right turn lanes out of Grand Street onto Newark,” said Montero.
Past safety improvements
The city has tried to improve the safety conditions of the corridor, according to the mayor and Gibson.
They have utilized in-street pedestrian crossing signs, police pedestrian decoy operations, restriped crosswalks at Grand and Adams streets, striped a shoulder along the southern side of Newark, painted bump outs, and installed flashing LED pedestrian crossing signs.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.