It has been a slow and error-filled process to install much-needed upgrades along Hoboken’s main street and the company managing the project just dropped some bad news in a memo to officials, writing that about five additional months may be needed to finish the job.
The ambitious redesign of Washington Street was approved back in 2016 and looked to replace aging water mains, modernize traffic signals, and add pedestrian counters along the well-traveled road. Additional components included the creation of curb bump-outs, rain gardens, bike lanes, and loading zones designed to combat decades of neglect along the street.
The renovation started in earnest in early 2017 and was scheduled to wrap up on August 21 this year. The 16-block road is currently paved up to 5th Street and sidewalk installation work is continuing along 7th and 8th Streets, with paving up to 9th Street scheduled for later this month.
However, the company managing the project, T&M Associates, has admitted the whole project won’t be done by August and major delays appear to be in the cards for the revamp’s completion. At tonight’s city council meeting, T&M is seeking their second extension of the project’s deadline by 29 days through the end of September, citing “unforeseen conditions” that include utility conflicts they and subcontractors have encountered during the construction.
The worst news comes later in the letter, as T&M writes that “with six intersections remaining to complete drainage, rain garden, curb extension, ADA compliant ramps, traffic signal, microgrid conduit, milling, paving, signage and striping installation, our office projects an additional 3.5 weeks per intersection, or additional 147 days, may be needed beyond the time approved within this change order.”
That would take the project into 2019 and while the revamp is undoubtedly complicated, several obvious mistakes have been made during the construction. The current curb work along 7th Street is the second time concrete has been poured there; part of the first round was dug up for utility work after installation, and similar concrete re-pours occurred on Newark and First Streets’ curbs in the project’s early days.
In an email earlier this year, a spokesperson for the Washington Street Project told Jersey Digs that “sidewalks at the Newark and 1st Street intersections did not meet the grades nor extents shown on the plans and the contractor had to remove and replace the sidewalk at his own expense to rectify.” But a portion of the sidewalk on Newark Street is currently still blacktop and likely needs to be re-done yet again at a later date.
In June, there was a “test pit” dug on 3rd Street over a freshly-paved portion of the roadway, and no explanation has been given for the work. As a result, striping along the road has stopped at 3rd Street, likely because the test pit was dug within both a bus stop and a bike lane. It has sat there for almost a month with no progress and the project team has not answered a request for clarification as to what went wrong.
Perhaps the most obvious mistake with the project is overhead, as most of the north-south oriented street signs are hung crookedly. Newly-installed traffic signals at 5th and 6th Streets have utilized different hangers to correct the problem, but several blocks of Washington’s signs from 4th Street south will presumably need to be fixed.
T&M Associates has not responded for a request for comment on the project’s issues. City spokesman Santiago Melli-Huber acknowledged to Jersey Digs in an email that the project now has an estimated February completion date, and said that “liquidated damages will be assessed from the contracted completion date until the actual completion date to cover the additional expenses incurred by the city.”
Per the City’s contract with Underground Utilities Corporation, those damages will total $5,000 for each day after the contracted completion date through the actual completion date. “Additionally, we are working closely with the City Council to explore all our options on how to proceed in a way that minimizes impact on residents and businesses, completes the project in a timely manner, and delivers high-quality results for residents for years to come,” he added.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla voted in favor of the Washington Street Redesign while a city councilman, as did every current council person who held office at the time except for Jennifer Giattino. The council will meet at City Hall (84 Washington Street) tonight to discuss the extension starting at 7:00 p.m.