A new road extension to enter Liberty State Park has finally opened. The extension includes a new bridge that leads from downtown Jersey City in the Bergen-Lafayette area to the northwest side of the park, allowing easy access for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists
A week after the extension officially opened on Aug. 4, the road was busy. Cars headed in and out of Liberty State Park, cyclists pedalled along the new bike lanes on both sides of the bridge, and pedestrians used the sidewalks in the sweltering summer heat, strolling, jogging, or walking their dogs.
The project extends Jersey Avenue, formerly a dead end, over the canal to Phillips Street, and intersects with Johnston Avenue and Audrey Zapp Drive. The road opens a new direct route to the nearby Jersey City Medical Center. Stoplights control intersecting light rail trains.
“It’s nice, this doesn’t look like it’s causing too many problems,” said Masai Herrera, who was walking near the new extension. “It helped us get to downtown a lot easier.”
Madilynn Morris, another pedestrian, said it was needed. “It’s busy around here,” she said. “I don’t have a car, so I don’t know what it takes to go around. But obviously, it’s pretty hard for people to go around if they had to go that way, right? So I guess people appreciate it.”
Construction, which was planned in 2013, didn’t begin until in 2019. It’s a $13 million project, with $10 million being a grant from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Before the extension, the Ethel Pesin Liberty Footbridge was the only way for pedestrians to get to the park from Jersey Avenue. Vehicles would have to go from Phillips Street, to Johnston Avenue, Pacific Avenue, and Grand Street get to the intersection of Jersey and Grand.
Sam Pesin, President of the Friends at Liberty State Park, called the finished project a tremendous milestone for Jersey City. “The more ways that people can travel without a vehicle, such as bikers, runners, walkers and strollers, the better,” he said.
The bridge’s new bike lanes and pedestrian walkways on the sides of the road were much needed and already much used. They were not part of the original plan, but were added after organizations and Robert Rodriguez, superintendent of the state park, advocated for their addition.
Activist Arnold B. Williams was cycling across the bike lanes along with neighborhood kids, Lincoln and Jaylen, as part of Where Yo Bike At?, a community-based cycling club. He sees the new lanes as important. “I’m really excited about the bike lanes of today,” he said. “We’re riding most of them in this area, just to show them how it’s done.”
The state will transfer the roadway to Jersey City. “[This] will allow us to ensure the appropriate mechanisms are in place to solve any concerns over speeding, traffic, and any other potential safety issues,” said Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione, a spokeswoman for Jersey City.
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