Regarding Bridge Restrictions written by Anonymous Newport Resident, in last weeks Editorials, I too am unhappy that LeFrak Corporation has set hours for bridge use from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm, given that $6.4 M taxpayer dollars contributed to the project. The hours appear to be a safety issue. Upon checking with the HPD, bridge safety is an effort shared between the HPD, JCPD, and Transit Police. Specific details, such as if HPD does regular patrols, were not available, yet private security is not currently in use.
In a September 9, 09 article by Carly Baldwin on NJ.com about bridge hours Mr. LeFrak references potential lawsuits as the reason: a pedestrian can trip, fall into the water, or be attacked.
The bridges current hours do not prevent such events from happening altogether, yet they are more likely to happen at night. Mr. LeFrak states that until he can provide security or the HPD and JCPD agree to patrol the bridge at night the hours remain. (The article states Mr. LeFrak built the bridge with $2M of entirely his own money, and is not subject to the 24 hour mandate. This has perhaps been a source of public confusion. In an NJ.com article dated August 26th, 09 Ms. Baldwin states the cost of the bridge at $6.4M and attributes much of the capital as federal.)
In my opinion, the public needs to be made accurately aware of the facts concerning the bridge and source of the capital, along with any agreements between the LeFrak Corporation, Hoboken, and Jersey City regarding its public use upon completion. As a Hoboken resident and taxpayer, I would like to see the public and our elected officials address this matter. Has there been discussion as to what patrolling from the HPD and JCPD would be sufficient to increase the bridges hours? Under what circumstances were taxpayer dollars contributed to this project while leaving public safety decision to Mr. LeFrak rather than the officials who provided taxpayer capital? Given the robust nightlife in Hoboken, the hours on the bridge are not sufficient for our residents. I look forward to cooperation between officials from Hoboken, Jersey City, and the LeFrak Corporation to find a solution other than the current bridge hours.
Editor’s note: Even though the bridge is now open 24 hours, Essig thought the concerns raised in the letter were still worth noting.