Four to six weeks of construction began on safety improvements to two Hoboken intersections this week. They may be the first of many, as Hoboken plans to launch it’s Vision Zero Task Force this month.
In January, Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced Hoboken’s Vision Zero pedestrian safety campaign to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and injuries by the year 2030.
Between 2014 and 2018 there were 469 traffic-related injuries and three traffic-related fatalities in Hoboken, according to the city.
Safety measures underway
Construction started at the intersection of 14th and Garden streets followed by construction at the intersection of Hudson Street and Hudson Place.
Upgrades to the intersection of Hudson Street and Hudson Place include new traffic signals to improve traffic flow and reduce intersection conflicts; new pedestrian signals with countdown timers; an expanded sidewalk on the west side of the intersection to improve safety by shortening crossing distances; new sidewalks and ADA-compliant curb ramps; high-visibility crosswalks at all approaches; additional space for bicycle and electric scooter parking along Hudson Street; and a new loading zone for deliveries and loading activities.
A dedicated left-turn space for Hudson Place-bound cyclists and e-scooter riders through a new jug-handle configuration on the west side of the intersection is in the works.
Southbound cyclists and e-scooter riders will be able to make left turns onto Hudson Place in two stages using the jug handle. They can then cross during the pedestrian crossing phase. The city believes this will help reduce the crash risk caused by vehicles making conventional left turns.
Chris Adair, president of Bike Hoboken, a local cyclist advocacy group, said currently this intersection is difficult for cyclists but said she believes the new dedicated cyclist turn lane will help make the intersection safer.
“Anything dedicated for bicycles is going make it easier because it helps to build predictability, predictability in that people know where bikes are and will be aware, which will lead to a better, safer flow for traffic, pedestrians, and bicyclists,” she said.
After these upgrades are completed, construction will begin at the intersection of 14th Street and Garden Street.
A traffic light with a pedestrian crossing signal will be installed at this intersection, which is currently staffed by crossing guards during peak periods. It will also install ADA-compliant curb ramps and upgraded high-visibility crosswalks.
This project is a long time coming. The analysis for the traffic lights was first conducted in 2017.
Since the analysis was conducted, Hoboken has been collaborating with Hudson County for data collection which is then analyzed. Hudson County applied to the New Jersey Department of Transportation for funding to pay for the construction and signals.
The typical cost for a new traffic signal in urban areas is approximately $250,000 per intersection.
The goal of these improvements is to improve traffic flow and reduce the safety risks pedestrians currently face at the two major gateways to Hoboken.
All of these pedestrian safety measures are part of the city’s Vision Zero plan.
“Safer streets and pedestrian safety is a priority for my administration,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “These traffic signals, pedestrian countdown timers, and other improvements will provide major upgrades to these two heavily-trafficked areas. Hoboken is committed to the goal of zero pedestrian injuries or fatalities by 2030 as part of our comprehensive Vision Zero initiative, and I thank Hudson County for its partnership in constructing these upgrades.”
Currently, the administration is finalizing the executive order establishing the Vision Zero Task Force.
Hoboken’s Vision Zero Task Force will be formed this August. Its members will begin creating a Vision Zero Action Plan to develop standards and recommendations to achieve zero traffic-related fatalities or injuries by 2030.
This plan can take approximately a year to complete, according to city spokesperson Vijay Chaudhuri who noted that the city will take a comprehensive approach that includes a task force, extensive public outreach, and planning and engineering professionals working together to end traffic violence in Hoboken.
“A core principle of Vision Zero is that nearly all traffic injuries and deaths are preventable, so the countermeasures developed in the Vision Zero Action Plan will aim to prevent the contributing factors of traffic violence,” Chaudhuri said.
Protected bike lanes, curb extensions, pedestrian safety countdown timers, high visibility crosswalks, and other traffic measures could all be included in the action plan.
Adair said she would like to see protected bike lanes as part of the Vision Zero Action Plan as well as other safety measures because infrastructure like bump-outs can help slow cars so that if someone is involved in a crash, it increases the chances that the crash would be less severe and not fatal.
“Hoboken is committed to making our streets safer for all pedestrians and modes of transportation,” said Mayor Bhalla. “Our Vision Zero initiative, which we will launch before the start to the new school year, will have one of the most ambitious goals in the entire region as we aim to have 0 pedestrian fatalities and injuries by 2030. I look forward to working with our task force and residents as we build a safer Hoboken for everyone.”