The west side of Route 440, at the former military ocean terminal base (MOTBY) and South Cove Commons, is not yet an accessible pedestrian destination. That may change soon as city officials are planning to extend the walkway at the 34th Street light rail station over the highway and construct a walkway from South Cove Commons to MOTBY.
Pedestrians will finally have a destination to walk to in the next year or two, when a ferry, a Costco, and a waterfront park will be constructed alongside a dense community of apartment buildings with mixed-use retail and office space.
Urban planners long anticipated this development, which is why the 34th Street station was built to accommodate an extension over Route 440. Right now, the pedestrian walkway extends only over the rail line and into an adjacent parking lot.
“If you were in a drone looking down onto MOTBY, you have a pedestrian overpass linking to the base, a walkway connecting South Cove Commons to MOTBY, then you have a ferry terminal all in short order,” said Bayonne City Planner Suzanne Mack. In Davis’s second term, she said, “You’ll definitely see these improvements.”
The project would cost around $2 million, which the city hopes to cover with federal grants from the N.J. Department of Transportation. The walkway connecting South Cove to MOTBY, and a future ferry terminal, would cost less, and funds would come from a combination of public and private funds. The city will be able to match those funds with grants.
“Now we get the second bite of the apple to create access to the Hudson River waterfront.” – Suzanna Mack
Concept to reality
“Right now, it’s a concept plan on paper,” said Bayonne Business Administrator Joe DeMarco. “A South-Cove-to-MOTBY-bridge is something that will occur, especially as development happens and people move in. It just makes sense to open the area up even more to pedestrians.”
The city is still in the early stages of securing funding for the Route 440 walkway. DeMarco plans to go out to bid for a company to prepare an alternative concept plan, which is required to secure NJ DOT funding for this project. City officials hope the concept becomes a reality by summer of 2019. By then, residential projects, a Costco, and a ferry are slated for completion.
Technical challenges for the city will be to determine whether the height of the utility poles on Route 440 would interfere with the project. That issue was the subject of a separate PSE&G study. Making the walkway accessible for people with disabilities will require an elevator on the eastern side of the walkway. Luckily, the western side is already equipped with one.
“For years, MOTBY was a private facility, and we had very limited access to the Hudson waterfront while Bayonne tried to focus on its westerly waterfront,” Mack said. “Now we get the second bite of the apple to create access to the Hudson River waterfront.”