Here’s hoping Elvis the Elf has a strong voice—because it’ll be tough to hear him over the sound of road work…
The City of Hoboken has announced that milling and paving of Washington Street between Observer Highway and 3rd Street will occur the week of December 4th between 8:00am to 7:30pm. While efforts will be made to maintain vehicular traffic, road closures will be required at times.
The City’s own Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall on Washington Street is scheduled for Tuesday, December 5 at 5:00 p.m., featuring host Elvis the Elf, the Hoboken Fire Department and a visit by Santa Claus—plus local school children singing popular Christmas songs.
Of course Washington Street serves as Hoboken’s main commercial corridor. According to The Hudson Reporter, many businesses are seeing a decline of 25% or more due to declines in foot traffic.
“Businesses who have been suffering for years on account of the administrative mismanagement of Washington Street are now forced to endure a holiday season mired by the long overdue necessity to pave the street,” says Councilman Michael DeFusco, head of Mayor-Elect Ravi Bhalla’s Committee on Economic Development (and former Mayoral candidate).
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.
“The Council has long expressed concern with the inefficiencies surrounding the project, including serious safety violations, but we are limited by the administration’s ability to acknowledge mistakes and fix them accordingly,” says DeFusco. “The City Council as a unified body will ensure that the incoming administration uses the financial resources allocated to it properly, and that projects are completed on time and on budget.”
During this next phase of construction, NJ Transit buses will operate on a detour. Buses heading toward Hoboken Terminal will travel south along Washington Street, detour east on 5th Street, and south on Hudson Street. Buses heading towards New York will leave the bus terminal from Observer Highway, turn north on Bloomfield Street, turn east on 5th Street, and continue north on Washington Street along the regular route. As a result of these detours, parking will be prohibited on both sides of 5th Street between Bloomfield Street and Hudson Street as well as on both sides of Bloomfield Street near Observer Highway and Hudson Street near 5th Street. Police will be on hand to help direct traffic.
But foot traffic will remain a key issue for retailers. Erratic street closures and unnavigable automobile traffic have created an exceedingly difficult commercial climate on a street that commands high rents for retailers.
“In the new year, Councilwoman Giattino and I are eager to re-introduce our business expansion ordinance,” says DeFusco, “which will help small businesses open more easily on Washington Street and help generate new revenues for the City to pay for the nice things we want without over burdening taxpayers.”
For now, retail, hospitality and other small businesses in Hoboken—once the winner of the People’s Choice Awards for Great Downtowns in New Jersey—will have to find a way to squeak through what is normally an abundant season.