HOBOKEN – Many residents may be thinking, it’s about time. At this past week’s City Council meeting, council members unanimously (9-0) voted to approve a $12 million bond to mill, repave and rehabilitate Washington Street, which has long suffered from potholes.
According to city officials, the repaving is set to begin in the fall. The road improvements are being done in conjunction with the Washington Street Redesign Plan, which was passed last February.
The plan initially drew many concerns from business owners and some residents who feared proposed “protected bike lanes” (between parked cars and the curb) on Washington Street would hurt the character of Hoboken, deter the illegal but oft-used double-parking, and hinder emergency vehicle response times. On the other hand, cyclists and other residents championed the change for encouraging a “complete street” approach with a designated area for commuters of all forms.
A compromise plan was ultimately passed that will still narrow the street, but retain parking spots, adding bike lanes on the street downtown, painted “sharrows” uptown (from 8th to 15th Streets), and upgrades to the streetscape. With safety in mind, the city will add new street lighting, synchronized traffic signals, pedestrian countdowns at crosswalks, and an emergency power grid to maintain continued operation of critical city hubs during an outage like that during Superstorm Sandy.
The $12 million bond is separate from about $8.1 million in state funds the city hopes to obtain for water main and green infrastructure improvements, Business Administrator Quentin Weist said during the meeting.
The city says engineers estimate the water main replacement will likely cost $4.1 million and green infrastructure $2 million. But the city is applying to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program (NJEIFP) for $5.5 million for the water main work and $2.6 for green infrastructure in order to be in a better position should bids go beyond estimated costs. – Steven Rodas