In wake of 11-year-old’s death, Jersey City residents rally for safer JFK Boulevard

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New community activist group Safe Streets JC, led by Kara Hrabosky, held a walk that gathered elected and civic leaders alike to start a serious conversation about bringing safety reforms to John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

A crowd of about 50 people gathered on the sidewalk in front of St. Dominic Academy, located on 2572 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, before Hrabosky, the Safe Streets JC co-founder, said an emphasis on pedestrian safety is long overdue after 11-year-old George Gonzalez was killed by a jitney bus on Friday morning.

The accident occurred near the intersection of Neptune Ave and JFK Boulevard and the driver, Raul Delatorre-Galaza, of Elizabeth, was causing a death while driving and driving with a suspended license, according to the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office.

“And Our goal is to promote, encourage and mobilize the administration to make traffic safety in Jersey City a priority. And we though this was a great place to have this sort of activity because Kennedy Boulevard is pretty much Jersey City’s Boulevard of Death,” Hrabosky said.

Hrabosky, who hosted a public traffic safety meeting with the Duncan Avenue Neighborhood Association in June, added that three people have been killed on JFK Boulevard in the past three weeks and that Bayonne police are known for enforcing the speed limit on the same thoroughfare.

After her remarks, the group marched about a mile to the West District police station on 1 Jackson Street, where Mayor Steven Fulop, Freeholder Bill O’Dea (D-2) and Ward B Councilman John Hallanan addressed what they are doing to make JFK Boulevard safer.

“I recognize this is an issue and we will prioritize it appropriately. No question it was a tragedy last week: on multiple fronts that was a failure. It’s a more complicated issue than just speeding and I hope we all recognize that,” stated Fulop, who said that meetings with state and federal officials about jitney bus regulations are forthcoming.

O’Dea added that he has been working with Hrabosky and other residents for three years to obtain a grant that will aid in pedestrian safety in the area, also noting that the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office has stepped up patrols on JFK Boulevard.

“I live obviously, just off of Kennedy Boulevard: these are things I’m not just advocating for but things I’m very intimately familiar with. So, I hope you all know that I am a conduit between you and the administration, so I hope you’re all comfortable contacting me and my office about issues – good and bad,” said Hallanan.

Fulop also received dozens of signed petitions from residents who are calling on his administration to implement changes throughout one of the city’s major roadways.

Safe Streets JC plans on holding their first public meeting sometime in November, with a date and place to be determined.

Anyone who would like to help the Gonzalez family pay for George’s funeral can contribute on this GoFundMe page.