For the past 22 years, the Fund for a Better Waterfront (FBW) has attempted to get a plan adopted by the City of Hoboken for the central waterfront. The success at the south waterfront, accomplished in a plan adopted by the City in 1995, has yet to be replicated from 4th up to 11th Street. But now there is an ordinance before the Hoboken City Council that would provide funding to complete such a plan. There will be a public hearing and final vote at the City Council meeting on Wednesday night, August 15.
It is a modest bond ordinance that will provide a little over $1 million for planning/engineering work for three street projects: Sinatra Drive, Washington Street and Newark/Observer Highway. The Sinatra Drive project would help fix the street layout from 4th to 11th Streets, making it pedestrian-friendly, continuing the bike path north from the South Waterfront, adding waterfront parkland and hopefully an abundance of trees as now exists south of 4th.
The ordinance will pay for the completion of shovel-ready plans, thus permitting the City to leverage state and federal funding for construction. Congress recently passed a federal transportation bill that will provide $54 billion annually, including $504 million for New Jersey projects in the coming fiscal year.
Likewise, the other street projects will upgrade key transportation corridors in Hoboken and develop plans to help leverage government funding for construction. The Observer Highway project has a $1.8 million federal grant and another $350,000 from the Hudson County Resurfacing Fund dedicated to construction. The Newark Street project, stretching just two blocks from Washington to River Streets, has $240,000 in government construction funds committed. But first, the final engineering plans must be completed to allow these funds to be released.
Washington Street, also known as “The Avenue,” is a major focal point for Hoboken’s retail trade and generates huge volumes of pedestrian traffic. This local “Main Street” is the major piece of this bond ordinance requiring a thorough public process to complete a streetscape redesign from Observer up to 14th Street. New, modern traffic signals and pedestrian crossing signals are required. The current street lights do not provide proper lighting. Unsafe crosswalks and handicapped-compliant corners must be corrected. Once the plan and construction drawings are completed, the City anticipates phasing in construction over a number of years as funding becomes available.