Friday, October 13, 2017

Washington St. reconstruction debacle an election issue?

One keen observer followed another earlier this week saying the work on Washington Street, already far beyond the original scheduled completion date next month had been halted. Another followed saying the disruption from the work had created a storm of complaints from residents and was being halted prior to Election Day on November 7th as City Hall continues efforts to help Councilman Ravi Bhalla get elected mayor.

Not expecting an answer from the elected officials directly connected, it seemed overly speculative. Then this announcement arrived from City Hall yesterday announcing the suspension of Washington St. reconstruction due to a safety incident with a pedestrian.

The issue of blow back around people angry with trees being removed for corner bump outs is addressed with the cooperation of an appointee who is suddenly aligned with the establishment powers too. Fascinating.

A sign posted on Washington St. urges phone calls to Mayor Zimmer and council members protesting the removal of  22 trees on Washington street.


Official release, Office of the Mayor:

UPDATE ON WASHINGTON STREET PROJECT

On Tuesday, September 26th, the City of Hoboken suspended the Washington Street Rehabilitation and Redesign Project over safety concerns after a traffic signal pole was knocked over by the contractor, Underground Utilities Corporation. The pole struck a pedestrian standing inside the construction zone, although fortunately there were no serious injuries. In light of the accident, the City felt it necessary to perform a comprehensive safety review of the project.

The City and the Police Department concluded their reviews last week and have since held multiple meetings with the contractor. It is the goal of all parties to have zero safety incidents for the remainder of the project. The contractor is in the process of finalizing their traffic control plan, obtaining the necessary traffic and pedestrian control devices, and updating their Health and Safety Plan, all of which are required before the City will allow the project to resume. It is the City’s hope that the contractor will resume work early next week.

The City is working hard to keep all those driving and walking along Washington Street safe, and we ask for everyone’s help. As the project resumes, we ask that all drivers and pedestrians along Washington Street remain attentive to signs and the direction of Police Officers. Only cross the street at crosswalks, do not distract construction workers or Police Officers, and never enter a work zone. Safety is a team effort, and the City appreciates everyone’s patience and cooperation on this important infrastructure project.

Tree Update
The City has also worked during recent weeks to review plans to remove certain trees as called for in the Washington Street plan. The Shade Tree Commission evaluated all of the trees planned for removal and identified 9 mature, healthy trees that should be saved and not removed. The Shade Tree Commission also approved the removal of other trees that are dead, hazardous, or that are very young, vulnerable trees that have been under stress and therefore will be unable to reach full maturity as healthy trees. All trees to be removed as part of the project will be replaced with new trees. Shade Tree Commission Chairwoman Diana Davis was joined by dozens of residents to walk and inspect the trees along Washington Street during every weekend in August. Based on the recommendations from the Shade Tree Commission, the project engineer, T&M Associates, was able to redesign the drainage at those locations to save the 9 trees. The City thanks Diana Davis and the Shade Tree Commission for their work to identify those trees that should be saved. In addition to preserving the identified trees and replacing the trees that will be removed, the City is committed to planting 50 additional trees along Washington Street in coordination with the project.