Friday, February 12, 2016

Washington Street backlash: one size fits all

On February 18th, a meeting scheduled at the Wallace School promises to present three plans in the latest public review of Rebuild by Design, numerous options funded as part of a $230 million commitment by the federal government offering innovative flooding protections for Hoboken.

On Washington Street, one redesign plan offers no such a la carte option. It's one size fits all and when the public points out failings in regard to public safety, business operations, access, etc. the concerns fall into a consulting black hole. Out comes the same plan with minimal tweaks and the voicing for more of the same.

The plan as currently situated is the singular solution put forward by Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the resistance of Hoboken residents as witnessed on MSV and around town has generated a major backlash.

There's almost universal revulsion to the key elements of Mayor Zimmer's plan: narrowing Washington Street to a single lane each way with the addition of two bike lanes the means to achieve it.

The business community is up in arms, top public safety officials are mute on the impact and bikers themselves question the sanity of a plan with the numerous lawsuits expected from crashes between commuters and bikes at bus stops. One can only imagine what the annual insurance premiums will be offsetting the City's new line item for litigation as a result.

Next week, Mayor Zimmer's Washington St. redesign plan will face an up or down vote at the City Council. Five votes are required for passage and critically, six votes are needed to fund the one plan put forward.

Councilman Ruben Ramos at the conclusion of the special meeting voiced his concern on the lack of any reasonable alternative after the public meeting showed an overwhelming vociferous reaction to the mayor's plan.

Ramos asked for options not forthcoming saying he didn't want to be faced with the choice of voting down most of the positive elements in redesigning Washington St.

Councilman Ruben Ramos reacting to the negative backlash
of the public at the special meeting on the Washington Street
redesign asked where are the council's options in the one size fits all plan?

What happens if the current plan put forward by the mayor fails to pass and get funded by the City Council next week? How long will Washington Street's overdue repairs be set back leaving it in a cratered condition worse than many main roads in third world countries?

Worse, what happens if the Washington Street plan goes forward resulting in strangulation of the most important transportation artery in town? Will Hudson and Bloomfield inevitably become major arteries with the downside drivers "voting with their feet?"

It's simply one natural byproduct among numerous issues not given any attention at City Hall in the drive to turn Washington from one of the nation's grandest thoroughfares into a narrow "progressive" solution.

Hoboken's Washington Street is not multiple one way lanes like ninth avenue in New York City, a naturally wider roadway in the far larger City of Newark or a traveling way point for girl scouts going from Bin 14 to the downtown bar scene.

By the way, when did girl scouts start hanging out at uptown wine bars and begin postulating the political talking points of politicians?

Only in Hoboken.

Councilman Bhalla announces February 16th fundraiser

From the desk of Councilman Ravi Bhalla:

Dear Friends and Neighbors –

I hope you will join me for a fundraiser at Arthur’s Tavern (237 Washington St. in Hoboken) on Tuesday, Feb. 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

With so many important issues being addressed in Hoboken, I hope my fundraiser also serves as a meeting place for residents who wish to discuss the various exciting opportunities ahead of us – whether it be the re-design of Washington Street or the revised Rebuild By Design concepts to be presented next week for our consideration, or any other issues of concern.

This year, I’m also offering a Hoboken resident discounted ticket for $100 to attend the fundraiser. In addition to the $100 tickets for Hoboken residents, you may also donate at the following levels:
$250.00 – Friend
$500.00 – Co-Host
$1,000.00 – Host

As you know, in order for us to continue to advance our vision for Hoboken, your financial support is greatly needed and appreciated. 

I thank you in advance for your friendship and continued generosity and look forward to seeing you and your guests this Tuesday, February 16, at 6 p.m.  If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact Jessica Lanfranchi at (201) 457-9000, or e-mail me at

If you are paying ahead of time, please make check(s) payable and send to:

Election Fund of Ravi S. Bhalla
45 Essex Street, Suite 204, 2
nd Floor
Hackensack, NJ 07601

If you’re unable to attend but still wish to donate, please visit my website here.

Councilman Ravinder S. Bhalla