Friday, August 18, 2017

Update on Washington Street Project

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City of Hoboken, NJ

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Community: Update on Washington Street Project

Dear MSV readers,

Recently there have been a number of inquiries from residents about ongoing construction as part of the Washington Street project. Below is an update with information addressing some of the most common topics.  The project is expected to be completed by summer of 2018. For the latest updates and additional information, visit www.washingtonstreetproject.com.

CURB EXTENSIONS
Through the multi-year community planning process for the Washington Street project, we learned that our community's top priority was pedestrian safety - with 98% of residents saying it was important to them and the vast majority supporting the use of curb extensions.

Curb extensions are one of the most effective pedestrian safety measures and are recommended by all federal, state, and local engineering design manuals. They prevent dangerous illegal parking in crosswalks, improve the ability of crossing pedestrians and drivers to see each other, reduce pedestrian crossing distances and exposure, and slow turning vehicles, which is a major cause of pedestrian collisions along Washington Street.

In addition to a high frequency of vehicle-pedestrian collisions along the corridor, a senior citizen was struck and killed by a turning vehicle as she was crossing Washington Street in 2015. As is often the case, the driver said that poor visibility was the reason for the crash. Curb extensions improve visibility between drivers and pedestrians, and by slowing turning vehicles, they help ensure that if a collision does occur, the injuries are minimized and the chance of survival increases dramatically.

Curb extensions don’t extend into the travel lane – they take up less space than a car parked car at the curb - so they don’t block traffic. As part of the design phase of the project, turning templates were performed for all vehicles including fire trucks using Hoboken specific fire truck sizes, and the curb extensions are designed to accommodate these turning movements.

The attached diagram shows the turning template for a Hoboken-specific fire truck at a typical intersection indicating that there are no encroachments.

TREES
The City is adding over 50 new trees through the Washington Street project. This is in addition to approximately 30 new trees that were planted between 1stStreet and 5th Street in the past few years through the Shade Tree Commission’s Washington Street Beautification Initiative. For this project, three trees have been removed and 16 more are planned to be removed due to utility conflicts such as drainage improvements. We are working to save or replant existing trees where possible, including an evaluation by the project engineer to determine if possible drainage alternatives would result in keeping some or all trees. No more trees will be removed until the City has reviewed the engineer’s report. The City also conducted a walkthrough with the Resident Engineer of the project and a representative from the Shade Tree Commission to evaluate which trees were likely to survive a replanting. An arborist and landscape architect are also evaluating if the t rees can survive replanting and where they could be replanted.




Talking Ed Note: The Washington St. project suffers from a number of issues most critically the timing and complaints about curb extensions or bump outs. 

MSV has been fielding numerous complaints about the bump outs, mostly connected to concern on emergency vehicles inability to navigate them at critical times. The appearance here of the "vast majority" supporting them means an avalanche of complaints are likely reaching City Hall too. 

The City Council has expressed concern and Councilman Ruben Ramos has been vocal saying it's a mistake. There's been no action on the funding which was passed comprehensively as part of the overall plan. Previously, the public by a huge margin rejected the concept of installing separate bike lanes on Washington St. 

Mayor Zimmer alienated many in the public with her insistence on dedicated bike lanes on Washington Street. She clearly wants to regulate the flow of traffic on Washington St. The curb extensions are another means for her to do so.

Even with a costly adjustment later, some mayoral candidates are likely to criticize the construction of the ongoing Washington St. construction for this and other reasons. 

The Washington St. Project was originally slated for completion before the November election. Then the objective slipped to complete half of the street by that time. 

It's doubtful Hoboken will see half of Washington St.'s reconstruction complete by Election Day. The project is officially rescheduled to continue well into 2018.