As part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District, a car-free zone along one of Jersey City’s major hubs could be expanded farther west under a proposal that was announced by the mayor earlier this week.
In 2015, Newark Avenue between Grove and Barrow Streets was permanently converted into a pedestrian plaza. The move added seating areas, umbrellas, bike racks, decorative lighting, new trees, bioswales, and more to the street, which is closed to vehicular access and painted green to designate it as pedestrian-only.
Seemingly like any change, the move had its supporters and detractors. The city did mull over making some changes to the plaza last year to address noise and quality of life concerns that some felt the conversion contributed to, but Mayor Steven Fulop says he believes that the pedestrian-only switch along Newark Avenue has been “overall positively received by residents.”
On Monday, Fulop tweeted that the city is exploring expanding the pedestrian plaza westbound to Jersey Avenue, also sprucing up the street surface and increasing furniture along the stretch. A graphic Fulop put up with the tweet shows that a small block-long portion of Bay Street that forms a triangle would also be car-free under the plan.
Other features of the proposal include decorative street paint through the intersection of Newark Avenue and Barrow Street, which cars would be allowed to utilize to turn up Erie Street. Additionally, a new playground area is proposed on the block between Barrow Street and Jersey Avenue.
Ward E Councilman James Solomon supports the idea of expanding the plaza. “The pedestrian mall has the potential to be a world-class public space,” he told Jersey Digs in an email. “Much work remains to improve the streetscape and control late-night behavior, but I believe the expansion of the mall will help us move in that direction.”
Fulop also posted a 3-D model video of what the plaza could eventually look like. While momentum appears to be behind the project, no firm time frame has been announced as to when the proposal could go before the city council, who would need to approve the measure.