All lanes of Bayonne Bridge to open Feb. 11
The Bayonne Bridge will open to four lanes in both directions on Feb. 11 for the first time since the “Raise the Roadway” Project began in 2013, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Two lanes have been open in both directions since the roadway opened in 2017. The entire project is expected to be completed in the spring, with approach ramps to and from the bridge still under construction. The project raised the bridge by 215 feet to allow for larger cargo ships to access New Jersey ports.
West Side Avenue stations of HBLR could close for nine months
In order to accommodate underground work by the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority (JCMUA), NJ Transit is proposing to close down three stations along the West Side Avenue line of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail for nine months.
Emergency repair work is scheduled to begin on or about June 1, 2019, and continue to March 1, 2020.
This could affect some of the poorest residents of Jersey City as well as students of New Jersey City University who use that line. The temporary closure would affect West Side Avenue Station, Martin Luther King Drive, and Garfield Avenue stations.
NJ TRANSIT will conduct two public hearings to receive public comment on the proposed service disruption along the West Side Avenue branch of the HBLR. There will be two opportunities for public comment on Thursday, March 7 at 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at New Jersey City University, Gilligan Student Union Building (Culver Avenue entrance) Multi-Purpose Room B, 2039 John F. Kennedy Blvd. in Jersey City.
Substitute bus service will be provided for express travel from each of the three stations (West Side Avenue, Martin Luther King Drive and Garfield Avenue) directly to the Liberty State Park station, where customers can connect to regular HBLR service.
Shuttle buses will also provide local service between each of the three stations. The West Side Avenue Park and Ride will remain open during the station closure. When the project begins, NJ TRANSIT customer service representatives will be on location to help direct customers.
JCMUA is repairing an old, deteriorating sewer pipe that runs directly underneath the light rail tracks. It will take NJ TRANSIT at least two months to decommission the section of the West Side Avenue light rail line, removing wire, shutting off electricity and removing track before JCMUA will have access to the work site.
Murphy signs law mandating panic alarms in schools
On Feb 6, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill that requires public schools to own an active-shooter panic alarm, according to The Record. The bill was introduced after the Newtown shooting, and recently renamed for Alyssa Alhadeff, a former resident of Woodcliff Lake who was killed in the Parkland massacre last February. Each alarm will cost $1,000 to $5,000 per school, so the total cost for the state’s 2,500 public schools will be between $2.5 million to $12.5 million.
N.J. moves closer to enacting “right to die” law
After a dramatic hearing on Thursday, the Senate Health Committee approved a bill that would make it legal for terminally ill patients to “die with dignity” by taking life-ending medication given to them by a doctor in the state. The bill, if passed by both houses and then signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, would make New Jersey the seventh state to legalize physician-assisted suicide, or “right to die” laws. Murphy has not revealed whether he supports or opposes it.
Bills to ease foreclosure crisis clear committee
After months of bipartisan work on residential foreclosures, and a report, lawmakers passed a package of 10 bills on Feb. 7 to address the issue. New Jersey leads the nation’s foreclosure crisis: one in every 986 homes are in some stage of foreclosure, which is more than double the national average.
Senate committee approves new severance pay bill
On Feb. 7, the Senate Commerce Committee approved a first-of-its-kind bill that would guarantee laid-off employees one week’s pay for every year they worked at any company that lays off 50 or more workers. Companies with 100 or more workers must notify workers at least 90 days in advance that layoffs are coming or workers will receive an extra four weeks of severance pay, according to the Asbury Park Press.
N.J. pension fund paid $670M to investment managers
Over the past fiscal year, the state’s pension fund for public workers paid outside investment managers $670.3 million in fees and bonuses. That’s a lot — but it’s a $29 million drop from the year before, according to the State Investment Council’s report.
N.J. receives mixed grade from American Lung Association
The American Lung Association’s annual “State of Tobacco Control Report” assesses states on several measures — and in 2019, Mew Jersey failed–partly. The state earned an ‘F’ rating for its level of funding, and a ‘D’ for ‘Tobacco Taxes.’ But it did ace the ‘Smokefree Air’ category. The report includes several recommendations.
Hudson County CASA is seeking volunteers
Learn how to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer and help foster children find safe and permanent homes. The next information session will be held at Little City Books at 100 Bloomfield St., Hoboken, on Wednesday, Feb.20 at 7 p.m.
CASA is a nonprofit organization committed to advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes.
CASA volunteers are everyday people who make a direct impact in foster children’s lives. They are trusted, dedicated adults who seek to improve children’s well-being. CASA volunteers get to know their assigned child and his or her circumstances and provide valuable information to the court. Judges rely on the volunteers’ recommendations to make the best decisions about the children’s futures.
For further information, visit www.hudsoncountycasa.org
N.J. average gas price drops by two cents
New Jersey’s average gas price dropped by two cents this week to $2.32. Today’s price is three cents lower than a month ago. Year-over-year, today’s average price is 39 cents lower than February 4, 2018.
AAA Northeast’s February 4 survey of fuel prices found the current national average to be $2.25, a penny less than last week. Today’s national average price is the same as a month ago and 35 cents lower than this day in 2018.
“Increased demand, likely due to consumers filling up ahead of the cold weather, continues to be offset locally by strong supplies of gasoline,” said Robert Sinclair Jr., Manager of Media Relations for AAA Northeast.
Around the region, a gallon of gas in New York is averaging $2.48, down two cents from last week. In Connecticut and Pennsylvania, drivers are paying an average of $2.47, down three cents from last week in Connecticut and one cent from last week in Pennsylvania.