Thursday, February 18, 2016

Councilman Bhalla: Washington St. redesign a historic turning point

From the desk of Councilman Ravi Bhalla:


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last night was a historic turning point in a multi-year long process led by Mayor Dawn Zimmer, the Hoboken City Council, residents and stakeholders to rebuild and redesign Washington Street.

Bike lanes are coming to Washington Street, which is progress and wonderful news.  While I supported the integration of “Class I” protected bike lanes on Washington Street, it was the will of the Council to approve unprotected Class II bike lanes from Observer Highway to 8th Street, and shared bike lane markings north of 8thStreet.  This policy change, while a compromise, represents substantial progress towards the integration of bike lanes on Washington Street in our efforts to make it a Complete Street for use of all modes of transportation. 

The next important step will be to proactively work to reform our parking policies to facilitate more legal parking, minimize double parking, and ensure the Class II lanes on Washington Street will be a safe corridor for bicyclists to travel and utilize the wonderful retail shops and restaurants Washington Street has to offer.
It is critical to note that, although bike lanes consumed all the oxygen in the air during the debate of this issue, the project passed last night also includes upgrading our water system for the full length of Washington Street and installing modern traffic signals that can be synchronized to improve traffic flow.  The project also includes pedestrian countdown times and bump outs to make Washington Street safer for pedestrians.  It also includes green infrastructure that will beautify Washington Street and capture rainwater during storm events.   Finally, a conduit for a micro-grid will provide backup power for our critical facilities in the event of a major emergency.
The approval of this plan shows that today, local government in Hoboken can put politics aside for the greater good and work hard towards solutions that address the interests of divergent stakeholders to the greatest extent possible.  For this, great credit should be accorded to Mayor Zimmer for leading the process over a period of years, to Council President Jennifer Giattino and the Transportation Subcommittee, the business community and all the residents and others who cared enough to take time to offer their input and get involved in the process.  When democracy works, people win.  I looking forward to a Washington Street we can all be even more proud of for generations to come.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at councilmanbhalla@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Ravinder S. Bhalla
Hooboken Councilman-at-Large