At this point, Hoboken is more or less punch drunk from road construction—the ongoing PSE&G “upgrades”, run-of-the-mill United Water maintenance and good ol’ fashioned pothole killin’. Starting next week, we get hit with a haymaker, as Hoboken’s Observer Highway Redesign Project gets underway on Monday, May 4, 2015*.
(*work had previously been scheduled to begin on April 27, however, the City revised its schedule.)
Work is expected to last approximately 6 months on Observer Highway and will take place weekdays from 8am to 6pm.
“I am very proud that this project, fully-funded through grants, will create an attractive and safe gateway into Hoboken for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit riders of all ages and abilities,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “While the main purpose of this project is to make the street safer, it will also have the benefit of reducing traffic delays along one of our busiest corridors.”
The improvements to Hoboken’s primary southern artery will include new synchronized traffic signals and dedicated left turn lanes. Meanwhile the Observer Highway and Vezzetti Way corridor will become more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, with redesigned crosswalk signals and a two-way protected bike lane.
According to the City, there were an average of 37 crashes per year along Observer Highway between 2010 and 2012. The new design is intended to reduce traffic delays and prevent collisions.
The project, which will also include a redesign of a portion of Newark Street later this year, is expected to cost $2.7 million—which will be completely funded by grants.
“Having too often been stuck in traffic myself on Observer Highway, I know what these much-needed upgrades will mean to such a vital corridor in and out of Hoboken,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, who worked to secure $2,240,000 in federal funding for the project. “Complete streets accommodate the needs of all roadway users—not just drivers—and this project will help improve the quality of life for residents, make the city more welcoming for visitors and help local businesses grow.”
Meanwhile, the project will not be without its hassles…
According to the City of Hoboken’s website, “Police traffic directors will be on hand, and the roadway and sidewalks will remain open to cars at all times. Minimal work will be done on the roadway before 9am and after 4pm to minimize any travel delays during rush hour. Some night work may take place during the milling and paving phases of construction in order to minimize traffic disruptions.
Observer Highway will continue to be a two-way road—one travel lane in each direction plus dedicated left turn lanes so that turning cars do not slow down through traffic. New traffic signals will be installed at Bloomfield Street and Park Avenue. The outdated signals at Henderson Street, Willow Avenue, and Washington Street will be replaced with modern signals. The timing of all signals will be coordinated to improve traffic conditions.
Pedestrian safety along Observer Highway will be improved through traffic signals with pedestrian countdown timers, a pedestrian walkway on the south side of the street, new concrete pedestrian islands, new ADA curb ramps, and other reconfigurations. A new sidewalk will be added on the north side of the intersection with Henderson Street, providing safe haven for pedestrians walking on the south side of Newark Street.
Bicycle safety will be enhanced through the creation of a two-way protected bike lane. The protected bike lane will terminate at the easternmost end of Observer Highway near the bus entrance for Hoboken Terminal. A bicycle parking area will be established at the eastern end of Observer Highway to accommodate cyclists riding to Hoboken Terminal.
Under the new configuration there will continue to be two parking lanes on Vezzetti Way. One parking lane will be on the north side of Observer Highway and the other parking lane will be on the south side of Observer Highway, and drainage improvements will be made to eliminate existing issues that result in pooling of water on the roadway.
The project was planned through a series of community meetings in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and incorporates the goals and recommendations of Hoboken’s Master Plan, Complete Streets Policy, and Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan.