While zoning restrictions have limited major high-rises from dotting its skyline, residential growth in Hoboken has nonetheless remained steady over the last two decades. After bottoming out at around 33,000 residents in 1990, the 2010 census showed the city’s population swelled to over 50,000, and growth since then is estimated around 8 to 10 percent.
The city’s location in a densely populated county makes easing transportation woes a big issue. Hoboken, much like Jersey City, has one of the has the highest percentage of residents who use mass transit to get to work in the country and with several notable transportation projects being planned around the region, it’s important to make sure those options keep pace with local development.
One mayoral candidate in the city’s upcoming race is calling for increased service on bus, rail and ferry lines to meet the growing ridership demand. Last week, Councilman Ravinder Bhalla publicly called on New Jersey Transit to add additional 126 buses for Hoboken’s west side, along Clinton Street and Willow Avenue. Bhalla also wishes NJ Transit would add buses on those routes exclusively for uptown Hoboken, as several projects underway in the northern half of Clinton Street will be adding new residents to the area in upcoming years.
Development in the city’s north end has ticked up recently and more could be on the way. The first public meeting about creating a plan for the North End Rehabilitation Area will be held later this month, and those new residents will need a way to get to work.
A new light rail station had been proposed at 17th and Clinton Streets in previous years, but Bhalla sees a different opportunity. He testified at a public hearing his desire for NJ Transit to provide a new train station in the city’s north end as part of the $13 billion Hudson Tunnel project, which seeks to build a new underground train line connecting Manhattan to Secaucus Junction. The project would construct a new tunnel under the Hoboken/Weehawken border, but no stop or station is currently in the plans between Secaucus and Manhattan.
But while mass transit is a vital element to Hoboken’s survival, traffic and driving concerns in the city remain an issue that constantly requires assessment. Another mayoral candidate, Councilman Michael DeFusco, is pitching changes to south-west Hoboken’s roads that are intended to ease congestion. He wishes to return Observer Highway to four lanes of vehicle traffic, with three lanes running towards Jersey City during the morning rush and three lanes inbound in the afternoon. He tells Jersey Digs his plan would maintain existing parking and place a “regular width” bike lane on the road instead of the current Class I dedicated lane.
That area of Hoboken should be adding more residents as well, as the city passed a Southwest Redevelopment Plan earlier this year. Jersey City also has several large approved and under construction projects right along Hoboken’s border, increasing the urgency to assess not only roads in the area, but mass transit options as well.
It’s impossible to gauge if or when any of these ideas will be implemented, but locals interested in what the many 2017 mayoral candidates have to say about transportation and other topics should mark their calendars for Wednesday, October 25, when Hoboken’s Quality of Life Coalition will be hosting the first debate at DeBaun Auditorium on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology.