At last night’s city council meeting, Hoboken’s elected officials quickly approved funding for the revitalization of Washington Street, quite literally paving the way for relief to one of the city’s most pothole-ridden roads.
The approved ordinance officially authorized “the milling, repaving and rehabilitation of Washington Street” by issuing $12 million in bonds for work on the project. The funding was the final step for the city’s ambitious redesign of the thoroughfare, which was approved earlier this year in a near-unanimous vote.
The project, first designed by the RBA Group and then taken over by T&M Associates, will first replace the aging water mains located underneath the street, a significant boon for a city that has its share of water main breaks.
The plan also has several improvements intended to make the roadway safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, including creating 32 new loading zones on Washington Street in an effort to cut down on double-parked trucks. The street will also get new lighting, synchronized traffic signals and an emergency power grid.
After some heated debate, the roadway, which was originally going to sport Class I protected-bike lanes, will now have Class II (meaning non-protected) bike lanes and “sharrows” to guide bikers on the street. Other improvements include new bus shelters, rain garden curb extensions and an emergency power grid that will keep power to critical locations during an outage.
Perhaps most notably, the plan will also totally overhaul Washington Street’s traffic signals at crossings. Currently, the roadway only has one traffic light suspended over the middle of each intersection and no signals at all for pedestrians, a design that hasn’t been permitted by federal regulators since 1948. While Hoboken was grandfathered in after the law was changed, city leaders haven’t done much in the seven decades since to bring the road into compliance.
Thankfully, Washington’s revamp will install two signal heads per approach at every intersection and add pedestrian countdown timers at every crosswalk, a welcome relief on a street the city says averages 18,000 pedestrians, 14,000 bus riders and 9,000 cars every day single day.
Before the vote, 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo voiced concerns about the city’s debt in recent years, but he and his colleagues still unanimously passed the ordinance. City spokesman Juan Melli says that residents should see work on the plan begin in the fall.