Tuesday, February 16, 2016


City of Hoboken announces:


The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection today announced the three build alternatives – one waterfront alignment and two inland alignments - that are moving forward for further evaluation as part of the Rebuild by Design Hudson River “Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge” project.

“With $230 million in federal grants awarded through the Rebuild by Design competition, we have a historic opportunity to address our flooding problem,” said Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “The threat from coastal flooding is very real – New Jersey is hit by a major hurricane every five to six years, and we have had several close calls in the past few months. I look forward to working together with the community to find a solution that protects us from coastal flooding in a way that preserves access to our waterfront and integrates with our urban fabric. Let’s put our creative power together and follow the lead of the Dutch to show that flood protection does not have to come from an ugly wall. Flood protection could come from a landscaped park, boathouse, sidewalk cafe seating, vertical garden or planter, playground, dog park, and more. The final design will depend on our community’s design ideas and preferences.”

“This multi-year process has progressed very well, with strong community input and great ideas that have helped shape the plan,” said Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner. “Now it is time to reach consensus and make decisions before we miss federal deadlines or we will run the risk of losing the funding for this important project.”

Project materials for the three build alternatives can be found on the NJDEP Rebuild by Design website at: http://rbd-hudsonriver.nj.gov. The three alternatives will also be presented at a community meeting on Thursday, February 18 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at the Wallace School gymnasium, located at 1100 Willow Avenue.

Alternative 1 is a waterfront alignment that is included as an option in order to explore a full range of alternatives as a requirement of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). The alternative provides the greatest level of risk reduction, is anticipated to have the highest cost and complexity to construct, and has the most impact on existing waterfront views and access. It extends from Weehawken Cove to just south of Maxwell Place Park and along Sinatra Drive from 4th Street to 1st Street, along with two possible alignment options along Observer Highway.

Alternatives 2 and 3 are inland alignments. Compared to the waterfront alignment, both alternatives are anticipated to be less costly to construct, do not impact waterfront views and access. Both alternatives provide a high level of risk reduction, however some buildings do not receive the benefits of coastal storm surge protection. On the northern end of Hoboken, both proceed through Weehawken Cove to the corner of 15th Street and Garden Street. Alternative 2 proceeds east along 15th Street to Washington Street. Alternative 3 proceeds south along Garden Street for approximately half of a block then proceeds east along an alley between 14th Street and 15th Street to Washington Street. Both alignments then continue south along Washington Street and gradually taper off between 13th Street and 14th Street. In southern Hoboken, both alternatives will include two alignment options along Observer Highway.

Horse Sense: Saving government from itself

Why the proposed narrowing of Washington St. is a massive government overreach and needs to stop

The character and tradition of Washington St. isn't strictly archaic other than the disastrous condition of the roadway surface itself. Hoboken's "Main St." is renown both locally and nationally, so the burden of any transformation falls clearly on the would be transformer.

Here the proposed transformation to drastically narrow Hoboken's main drag by way of two bike lanes comes from Mayor Zimmer. Her plan as currently presented to the public is wrong for Hoboken least of all that it heralds a potential major impediment to the will of the people on its most important and symbolic thoroughfare.

There's no sufficient argument here to counter the clear will of the people. For numerous reasons, Mayor Zimmer should heed their voice and act accordingly in concert with a revitalized and reconstituted City Council where actual policy differences urged by the public may be incorporated.

Safety is the major argument advanced by the administration, either outwardly or discreetly. The desire to "moderate" Hoboken's main thoroughfare is the clear motivation behind adding the desirous but ruinous bike lanes. It's a tool to an end and one the public sensed, smelled out and rejects.

While 300 accidents on Washington St. have been highlighted in recent years, the vast majority as it turns out are at intersections with one fatality involving a senior the past year. This speaks to individual judgment, inadequate lighting, signals and signage as much if not more than the frequently overblown references to the dangers of double parking.

If double parking were the source of most accidents on Washington St., a certain midtown pizzeria would be the location of a graveyard. The data supporting the double parking dangers is simply fantasy regardless of one's aversion to its ungainly appearance.

A cyclist has the same right to the roadways as cars, truck or any other vehicle. Nothing precludes cyclists from riding on Washington St. or any other. As poor analogies abound, the solution is multiple and simple. Bikes can ride wherever they like (but preferably not on sidewalks). They simply don't conform on the whole to ride at the speed of pedestrians as law dictates.

Sinatra Drive is the perfect place for cyclists to access all points north and south of town. It intersects with Hudson at 11th Street and similarly at 4th. Both access points allow simple uptown and downtown availability to Washington St. Using the safest and widest roadway brings cyclists to any point in the Mile Square's central point of activity in seconds. For cripes sake, you're on a bike!

Other options on streets west of Washington St. can be encouraged for traversing points north and south. The cost and impact to the vast majority of residents there is slight and should be quickly incorporated.

The weekend fire on Washington St. took out an entire floor of a building at fifth. Fortunately, no residents were hurt. Hoboken's superb public safety efforts are predicated on access and speed to the location.  Who's to say when a narrowed vision of Washington St. will come into play with deadly consequence? Never is the best time to see it doesn't happen.

At last week's special meeting, neither of Hoboken's public safety heads appeared to laud the merits of narrowing Washington St. via bike lanes. No letter of endorsement has appeared with their respective signatures. That silence speaks volumes and comes after a potentially deadly fire on Washington St. only last weekend.

Back in 2010, MSV called out all Hoboken elected officials when the decades old St. Patrick's Day parade degenerated into something akin to mardi gras and Germany's New Year's Eve crime spree. Severe injuries and an unfair reliance on overwhelmed public safety led to scores of crimes, injuries and reported rapes before sanity and public order was restored with its cancellation.

This time, it's not government inaction but a potential overreach which may land up destroying numerous businesses on Washington St. and the historic thoroughfare's vitality not to mention its century old charm.

The government overreach to first narrow the roadway with bike lanes and now delay finalizing Washington Street's redesign is that bad. As the mayor's letter to the City Council requests revisiting bike lanes on Washington St. at a later time, the public may decide to take matters into their own hands.

How long do you think it would require before the public submit thousands of signatures putting the issue onto the ballot in a referendum? Taking the matter into their hands will put the issue to a vote this November but needlessly stall the overdue progress the overwhelming public will demands.

The City Council should take note and act decisively and conclude the redesign and funding of Washington St. tomorrow. The easiest manner to do so is by amending the resolution and delete item F with any mention of bike lanes on Washington St.

Sometimes, it becomes a necessity to save government from itself. The public is fed up with the delay, subterfuge and patronizing condescension it take its medicine.

On Wednesday night, get it done.  Or risk seeing the public take it out of your hands and finish the job of Washington Street's redesign itself.

Proponents of bike lanes on Washington St. could allow for "bikers" to take their dogs along in a sidecar. Actually, that isn't the case as the width doesn't meet any US guidelines. The six foot proposed width for two bike lanes on the curbed side of parked cars doesn't meet US guidelines either. Time to get over it and allow progress the vast majority of the Hoboken public wants.

Talking Ed Note: The Hoboken Chamber of Commerce and its members are avidly against narrowing Washington St. and adding bike lanes. A letter from June last year to Mayor Zimmer voiced their concern parking would be the loser on Washington St. in the proposed plan and the cost would prevent funding for those concerns.

The current resolution on the Washington St. redesign incorrectly names the Chamber as in support of the administration's proposed redesign.

At the prior special meeting on first introduction of the redesign plan, MSV spoke in favor thinking the opposition premature and the idea workable to the satisfaction of all parties. That was then, this is now and the public has made all its preferences adequately clear.

Time to vote, put the matter to rest and move on.