Following an incident on Tuesday, September 26, in which a contractor knocked over a signal pole that ended up striking a pedestrian, the City of Hoboken has announced that the Washington Street Rehabilitation and Redesign Project has been temporarily suspended over safety concerns.
“In light of the accident, the City felt it necessary to perform a comprehensive safety review of the project,” said Hoboken Spokesman Juan Melli, in a written press release. “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.”
There were no serious injuries to the pedestrian, who was reportedly standing inside the construction zone.
Pedestrians, automobiles and businesses are all feeling a noticeable fatigue from the project, which was scheduled for completion in July of 2018. The portion between Observer Highway and 8th Street was scheduled to be finished by January 20, 2018—under penalty of fines for contractors who were unable to meet that deadline.
At this time, there is no word on whether or not that timetable and/or the fines will be impacted by this delay.
Washington Street serves as Hoboken’s main commercial corridor, and the reaction to this project’s execution has been primarily negative. Residents and business owners have expressed frustration, indicating that a simple paving job to smooth out the jarring potholes should have been a priority. According to The Hudson Reporter, many businesses are seeing a decline of 25% or more due to declines in foot traffic. Erratic street closures and unnavigable automobile traffic have impacted not only cars but bus service as well, creating an exceedingly difficult commercial climate on a street that commands high rents for retailers.
From CBS New York:
Adding to the furor, the Washington Street Redesign has forced the City to chop down a number of trees on Washington Street.
“The Shade Tree Commission evaluated all of the trees planned for removal and identified nine mature, healthy trees that should be saved and not removed,” said Melli. “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.”
With Hoboken in the midst of a particularly spirited election season, it’s a safe bet that the Washington Street Redesign will feature prominently in the back-and-forth between now and November 7.