Will Jackson Street ever be done right?

4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti sent out this letter to residents regarding the Jackson Street mess, and encourages everyone to watch or attend the Hoboken City Council meeting Wednesday at 7pm.

“Friends and Neighbors,

As many of you know, I have made a strong push on Council to continuously address quality of life issues in the 4th Ward throughout my term of serving you, and traffic congestion has been at the forefront. We may not be able to solve every issue, but it’s very important to shine light on the problem and work with all of the community to make things better.

The 4th Ward is the gateway to Hoboken, and the changing of the road configuration on Jackson Street between Newark & Paterson Avenues has been a cause for concern. I am sponsoring two ordinances at the next council meeting addressing this very important issue, and I hope you will attend to voice your opinion. I am also very open to hearing your suggestions at any time.

To recap, on street parking was added to both the east and west sides of Jackson Street in addition to a bike lane on the west side of the street reducing two lanes of traffic into one. The bike lane runs in the middle of the road, splitting two lanes of traffic. Both Newark & Paterson Avenues are county roads, but for some reason, the Hudson County Department of Roads & Public Property, nor the Hoboken Police Department, were consulted regarding these changes.

I would have suggested following the recommendations of The Jersey City/Hoboken Subregional Transportation Study from over a year ago which suggested a new traffic signal at this location. This could have assisted in making a bad traffic situation much safer.

The new road configuration has led to a significant increase in traffic congestion as commuters return to Hoboken during evening rush hour. Traffic is now backing up into Jersey City as vehicles have difficulty making the left turn onto Jackson Street from Newark Avenue. This affects residents in the 4th Ward and many other commuters throughout the city, as Jackson Street is a main point of ingress for the city. Also, Jackson St. is a designated truck route in the city and that portion is in an industrialized zone.

At the next council meeting, Wednesday September 5th at 7 pm there will be a public hearing prior to a second reading and final vote for an ordinance to return Jackson Street back to its original configuration.

I sponsored this ordinance as a temporary fix until Hudson County completes its scheduled installation of a new traffic signal on Newark Avenue at Jackson Street in the spring of 2013.

Some neighborhood residents favor keeping this new configuration permanently in the hopes of slowing traffic in the area and creating safer pedestrian crossing conditions. I fully support pedestrian safety, especially when there is a private day care center a few blocks away.

I have also put forth an ordinance for 1st reading adding a new stop sign at Jackson Street and Observer Highway. This signal costs approximately $200K and is the responsibility of the city. In following the recommendations of the Jersey City/Hoboken Subregional Transportation Study, this signal should have been budgeted this year.

I recommend we move forward with a cost effective traffic-calming device, a stop sign, at this location to increase pedestrian safety. Common sense dictates supporting the stop sign at Observer Highway if the council votes to change Jackson Street back to its original configuration, even temporarily. Otherwise traffic will become more congested, making a bad situation worse.

I believe that once the county installs the new traffic signal next spring that we will have an opportunity to evaluate returning the on street parking and bike lane on Jackson St.

Whether we agree or disagree, please consider taking the time to attend tomorrow night’s meeting and speak to the council on this issue. I would like to see the Council hear pros and cons from residents with differing opinions so we can make an informed decision. Too often, personality gets in the way on Council, and emotions run out of control. I live two blocks from this area. I would much rather this be done correctly, than worry about who gets credit. Hopefully my fellow council members agree.

Best,
Tim Occhipinti
4th Ward Councilman
timothy.occhipinti@gmail.com

Zimmer & Sacs – what do you think about the mess you made?

8/29/2012:

Below is a letter and some photos from Hoboken411 reader Brian – who is fed up beyond belief about the mess the Jackson Street traffic change that accommodated just a few leftist bicycle riders.

To Mayor Zimmer, the City Council, and Mr. Sacs:

I would like to express my gratitude for the changes that you have implemented on Jackson Street, between Newark and First, over the course of this summer.

Over the last year, I have put up with a lot, from floors to fires, hurricanes to early morning construction, but the ignorance and neglect that you have shown to the well being and commute of tax payers, residents, and those who otherwise experience this corner of Hoboken has re-affirmed my belief that come the first opportunity, I will do my best to get ANYONE else in office.

Since painting Jackson Street, making what functioned as 3 lanes (whether it was intended to be or not) into 1 driving lane, 2 parking lanes, and a zig zagging bike lane wide enough to fit a Hummer, my commute takes about 20 minutes longer than it previously did. Today, it took OVER AN HOUR for me to go from the Turnpike exit to Jackson Street. Not only did this more than double my commute, but it caused me to miss an A/C repair appointment, meaning I will be without cool air for all of Labor Day Weekend.

Now, before you respond (or don’t) with some of the things I’ve already educated myself on, let me just say that if you think residents should be patient until a light comes in the Spring, you are probably to far off-base to have read this far. If you think voters are blind to that neglect, you need a reality check. More over, if you think people will buy slowly opening Madison Street as a solution (let’s not talk about how it’s taken more than a week to remove 2 metal crowd barriers), I wonder if you’ve ever driven this commute. I’ve read all about that and that will not help anyone coming from the turnpike in the short or long term. To the points Mr. Sacs has made publicly, these changes only slow down traffic on Jackson because your research radar gun was sitting in a parking lane next to where traffic is now at a stand still on a daily basis, and how you can say putting large, solid, inanimate objects (Cars/Trucks/More often delivery vans) on a street corner with parking spots benefits pedestrian visibility is just silly. Again, I really hope you don’t think voters are blind to this.

Finally, because I sincerely believe many of you voted off of paper and not experience (or some simply lied to residents when they did experience according to online comments), I have included some pictures from the hour I spent wasting gas and polluting the environment this evening. In no particular order, they show:

  • The line of traffic where I sat in the same spot for 7 light cycles on Grove Street between 17th and 18th in JC because Newark was backed up to the Turnpike
  • Me then sitting on Marin BLVD after I turned around off of Grove, and the ensuing line of traffic.
  • The “2nd lane” that people then created on Marin, tired of sitting in traffic for an hour
  • THe line of traffic heading south on Newark, past the firestation (So opening Madison will help…. what?)
  • Missing 5th picture, because I did put my phone down the few times I was actually moving, of the 2 motorcycles that used your “Bike Lane” to “safely” navigate their way through the “much slower, safer” corridor of Jackson Street. Don’t worry though, they zig zagged with the lane when it cut in between the turn and straight lane (then turned left onto Patterson).

Personally, I can think of a plethora of better ways to make this corridor safer, and I don’t need any experience or data to tell me that. Hopefully you all will spend some time, no matter what your data or beliefs tell you, and take the drive thousands of us do over the coming week and realize the err in your ways, and at the very least repeal the lane changes until the light is installed. I CAN’T WAIT until next week, when thousands more are doing this commute every day instead of spending time at their shore houses.

Thanks for that nightmare.”