Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: Pedestrian & community updates

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors, 
 
Hope you had a wonderful summer and are settling in for back-to-school, back-to-work, and/or back-to-home! It always amazes me how the weather often tells us it is time to return.  Before I jump into the main topic – Pedestrian Safety Initiatives – I wanted to touch on what I refer to as “Campaign Season” which starts tomorrow – and it is a season – continuing 9 weeks exactly to Election Day which this year is Tuesday, November 5th.   What this means for my newsletters is that they will often include campaign-related information along with the same community information I always provide.  For me to continue engaging with, informing and advocating for you, I need to be re-elected!  So thank you in advance for your support, your patience, and your input along this campaign journey.  
 
But for today, the unofficial last day of summer, let’s talk Pedestrian Safety, Intersection and Traffic Initiatives you are coming home to.  This is mainly an update to my 5/20 email - 2nd Ward Pedestrian Safety Improvements Coming to You!  and also includes some homework for you at the end. 
 
2ND WARD HUDSON COUNTY ROADS AND INTERSECTIONS
 
 
The map on the left shows you the various County roads across Hoboken.  The one on the right drills down into the 2nd Ward.  I met with County officials last week and discussed all of the intersections that are starred.  Here is a summary of the outcome of those discussions: 
 
14th and Willow
Update:  In response to the resolution I sponsored and Council supported 9-0 that had several recommendations for the County to consider, the County has approved making two immediately – converting the parking lane adjacent to Trader Joe’s to that of a travel lane and installing vertical delineators in the center lane of Willow that will prohibit left turns in and out of Trader Joe’s parking garage.  Additionally, the County will be reviewing the entire traffic flow, lane striping, etc. to improve the safety at that intersection.  
 
14th & Park
New issue discussed - cars speed up Park Ave to make the green light at 14th.  Steps to be taken - County will install Optimum Programmable lights that will somehow make drivers not be able to see the color of the light until much closer to the intersection which should slow down drivers.  
 
13th & Willow
New issue discussed – pedestrian light only turns if button is pushed.  Steps to be taken - County is programming the pedestrian light to automatically change when the traffic light changes from 7am to 7pm.  Outside these hours you will need to push the button.  
 
15th & Park /Willow
Update: County synched the westbound traffic lights for improved traffic flow and safety and less congestion at the intersection of 15th and Park.   The County is also relooking at the traffic light timing and crosswalk striping at the intersection of 15th and Willow to help address safety concerns.  New:  The county is also looking into installing the Optimum Programmable lighting for traffic flowing westbound to help slow traffic.
 
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the accident that occurred this weekend where a car ended up crashing into Orale – there will be more details tomorrow, but I understand that it related to a car exiting the car wash and another car that swerved as a result.  The big issue there is the road is very wide and it is a main thoroughfare into Hoboken.  These intersections are all part of the various redevelopment, NHSA and RBD plans and are being discussed as part of these plans.  
 
14th and Hudson
Update: I am told that this has recently been fixed so that the pedestrian light changes automatically with the traffic light changes.  
 
13th and Sinatra
Update: I was disappointed to hear that a warrant study for a stop sign wasn’t yet completed.  However, there is a “stop for pedestrians” sign that was installed. Steps to be taken:  At the latest, we will wait until next spring when Pier 13 opens again.  However, if when Sinatra near Hudson re-opens after construction of 1425 Hudson is completed we see a significant increase in traffic along the waterfront, we will revisit doing a warrant study earlier.  What we don’t want is a study done when traffic is lower than typical and the result is that a stop sign is not warranted.
 
11th / Hudson / Sinatra
New issue discussed – traffic light timing and signage.  Steps taken:  The County has already taken action that resulted in the following:  When the light is green for Hudson St. going south, the pedestrian lights crossing 11thare white (go) all others are still red; Every 2nd cycle there is an all traffic stop and all pedestrian go; and if you are standing at any intersection and press the pedestrian button, it will cause an all traffic stop.  The point I raised though was that anyone who doesn’t know these rules couldn’t know this because the signs don’t suggest this is the case.  And the confusion creates a dangerous situation.  The county is going to look into better signage.
 
Hudson & Sinatra
New issue discussed – need for traffic calming of speeding traffic down Hudson.  Steps taken - The County is going to look into narrowing the entrance of the one-way portion of Hudson just south of 11th either via curb bump-outs, vertical delineators in the loading/fire zone areas and/or street markings (loading zone stripes for example).  
 
Hudson & 8th / 9th
Update: the County told me they recently did a warrant study for stop signs at these intersections and the result was a stop sign was unfortunately not warranted.  They are going to come back with more information.
 
14th & Garden
Update: New Traffic Light installation underway.  Was supposed to be completed before school starts, which it wasn’t.  But it should be over the next few weeks.
 
OTHER 2nd WARD ROAD AND INTERSECTIONS 
 
15th and Garden
The new RRFB’s – Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon Crosswalk System – have been installed just in time for the new school year.  The jury is still out on how effective they will be.  One thing I have noticed is that traveling west, three of the four signs are actually blocked by trees.  I have let the City know this.  
 
15th and Bloomfield
I have asked the City to consider narrowing Bloomfield leading into the intersection including painting the curbs and loading zone stripes on the road, bump-outs and/or vertical delineators.  In particular, because the parking garage was built to close to the road (“accidentally”), the visibility turning left onto 15th is particularly terrible.  
 
15th and Washington
I have asked the City to revisit whether or not the intersection warrants a traffic light and if so to start that process that can take a few years.
 
15th and Hudson
I have asked the City to look into enlarging the current bump-out on the South East corner which houses the stop sign.  This would narrow the travel lanes and create better visibility for the stop sign.
 
15th Street Targeted Enforcement
At the meeting with about 23 15th Street residents on August 20th, Hoboken PD informed us that 15th Street is one of the top five areas of concern in the City.  We have seen recently that they have increased their presence and I personally have seen them stopping a number of cars who have blown the stop signs on that street.   

VISION ZERO
 
The administration Mayor finally announced the kick-off of Vision Zero this week.  I am told it was delayed because of other things going on in HPU.  It seems odd that it was also announced during the slowest week of the summer and that most of the City Council was not invited to attend.  I digress.  But there is a Task Force and the City Council will be voting on Wednesday for a $100K contract for a consultant who will help us with this important project.  I will be voting yes on the contract… because I believe we need a formal process and an independent voice to guide us and introduce us to best practices we can use to create what I will call a Culture of Safety in Hoboken that is currently missing.
 
But…I recently became aware that the City did something that looks a lot like Vision Zero in 2010 with the result being this 69 page City of Hoboken Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan that included 163 recommendations.  Most of which were not implemented.  So for another $100K I will ask that the new Vision Zero consultant refer to this prior plan and then will demand that it work with the administration to actually implement the recommendations.
 
For my 15th Street neighbors, you may be entertained (may be the wrong word) to know that 15th Street in the 2010 B&P Plan was identified as a top 4 “location identified by stakeholders and the public as priorities for bicycle and pedestrians improvements within the City” with the main issue identified as speeding.  You can scroll to pages 62 and 63 to see the recommendations – none of which were implemented in 9 years.    
 
 
AMERICAN LEGION & VINNY AND COLE
 
In my 5/20 email, I talked about the new homes for homeless veterans we were building and Hoboken's treasure, WWII Veteran Vinny Wassman.  Quick updates on both – I toured the new apartments and they are amazing - 3 one bedrooms and 3 studios that are in process of being furnished for their first occupancy in a couple of weeks. The City Council will be voting on a resolution on Wednesday encouraging the City to support using the adjacent city-owned land to build another adjoining 8 homes.  I plan to vote yes.
 
  
 
A less happy update on Vinny – he has watched the health of his best friend and companion Cole deteriorate over the past two months.  Yesterday he gave the ultimate gift to his 13 year old friend of letting him pass peacefully. Vinny is resolved in his decision but if you know him and/or knew Cole you know he is heartbroken at the same time.  Feel free to stop by and say hello and bring your own best friends along.  He has a huge heart for animals.  I will be bringing my rabbits by this week to meet him.
 
HOMEWORK
 
There were a number of changes that were and will be made to intersections across the 2nd Ward.  Please check that they were in fact done or let me know if they haven’t yet.  I will keep following up to ensure they will.  Also, if there are any other intersections or roads that you believe need to be considered, please let me know.  One in particular is 12th and Shipyard and I can tell you I have not yet discussed this one at any length but wukk.  And, if you are thankful for any of the changes made, let me know and I will pass them along to all the people involved. 
 
 
Thank you to all of you who sent me such thoughtful emails in response to my 8/22 Calling Your Councilperson (me!) email.  I still owe some of you responses that I am working on but I am very much appreciative of your kind words.  And, I also appreciate all of you who have called since on topics important to you.  As I said in that email, you can call me for any reason, any time.  I am always working for Hoboken and for you.  
 
As always, please forward to anyone you think may be interested in this.  And feel free to email me at hoboken2nd@gmail.com or call me at 201/208-1674 to discuss what you have read or anything else that is important to you.