Road design interventions that are developed for traffic calming are meant to slow down vehicles that have a tendency to race down a street and cause accidents and possible deaths of pedestrians. If a city’s streets become sufficiently congested, the congestion itself becomes a traffic calming method as a result of the bottlenecks in the heavily trafficked area due to too many cars in a small area of navigation slowing traffic to a crawl or actually halting it.
Hoboken’s streets are now overflowing with cars everywhere because of all the development and because people are increasingly using cars to get out of town. As the monied class takes over Hoboken, they bring with them their one or two vehicles. Parents do not usually cart children and groceries with a bike or bus.
The City Council who approved the Washington Street Project that is redesigning our Washington Street had blind faith in the consultants that promised them the ‘wonder’ of a better street. The city consistently pays thousands of dollars to consultants and then agrees to their design suggestions. Sometimes some members of the public weigh in on the public meetings that discuss the design aspects, but only the usual handful attend and the city council ultimately approves a plan they blindly believe will work. But the devil is in the details and many of the consequences of approved plans are not understood until after the fact. Does the council research the negative aspects of a plan? Do they hope and pray that what they have approved will work out? Do they listen to the public when they raise real concerns and valid opposition to the plan since it is their city too?
Curb extensions are now going in on Washington Street much to my dismay because I understand that this was not right for our town. We are congested and need delivery trucks to be able to freely move in Hoboken’s main business district. These curb extensions are being put in to calm traffic and allow pedestrians to have a shorter distance to cross the street. That is now putting the pedestrians dangerously right next to the vehicles as they stand closer to the moving traffic. I have seen several large trucks unable to effectively turn on narrowed corners with the extensions. There are supposed to be rain gardens within these extensions and I have yet to understand how that is going to be maintained without creating muddy patches at all the intersections when it rains.
The New York City Department of Transportation lists these problems with curb extensions:
• May impact street drainage or require catch basin relocation
• May impact underground utilities
• May require loss of curb side parking
• May complicate delivery access and garbage removal
• May impact snow plows and street sweepers.”
Did our council understand the ramifications of these problems when they blindly believed the Hoboken traffic needed calming?