Ramos, Zimmer trade shots over Washington Street construction in Hoboken

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Hoboken 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos and Mayor Dawn Zimmer are trading shots over the $17 million Washington Street redesign plan that is slated to last through July 2018.Ramos-Zimmer

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“I was proud to help approve the Washington Street redesign because the Mayor allowed the streetscape to deteriorate into conditions which were unsafe for cars and pedestrians,” Ramos said in a statement.

“However, now that work is underway, it’s becoming clear that the impact of some of the new design elements, especially the curb bump-outs, is a lot more problematic in practice than it looked on paper.”

The Washington Street redesign project includes many new pedestrian safety features, including curb bump-outs at crosswalks on all four corners of intersections along the thoroughfare.

This is a feature designed to protect pedestrians waiting to cross at corners, but the councilman believes that this has inadvertently narrowed vehicle travel lanes, and reduced the number of parking spots along the thoroughfare.

The project, initially valued at $12 million dollars, was approved by the city council last June and was supposed to get started by October 2016.

However, the long-awaited project was delayed all the way until January of this year.

“The curb bump-outs are now causing a whole different set of safety problems for people along Washington Street, both in cars and on foot,” continued Ramos.

“We need to hit pause on this and work with our Police and Fire Departments to make sure their ability to get around on our streets isn’t impacted by the new curbs. I’ve expressed these concerns to the Administration and was told that the work would continue.”

The ex-Assemblyman also accused the city of committing “a major blunder” by removing the historic bluestones in front of City Hall, pointing to recent construction projects on Jackson Street and Observer Highway as examples of poor planning that cost the city millions.

Zimmer of course disagreed with Ramos’ assessment, indicating that the curb extensions are a vital safety aspect of the project.

“Washington Street is one of our most dangerous corridors, with a high number of vehicular-pedestrian collisions, including a senior citizen who was struck and killed by a turning car in 2015,” Zimmer began in her own statement.

“Curb extensions prevent dangerous illegal parking in crosswalks, improve visibility, shorten pedestrian crossing distance and exposure, and were specifically designed for the turning movements of Hoboken’s fire trucks.”

“They are a key element of making Washington Street a safe street for all users, including our most vulnerable citizens – the elderly, disabled, and young children. Deliberately allowing vehicles to illegally block three out of four crosswalks along Washington Street would be extremely irresponsible and borderline negligent,” stated Zimmer.

Zimmer and Ramos have had an icy relationship for years, with the former unsuccessfully challenging his political rival for the mayor’s seat in 2013.

After easily getting elected back to the council in 2015, early speculation was that Ramos may seek to rematch Zimmer in 2017.

However, that did not come to fruition, as Ramos has instead backed 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco to succeed Zimmer, who is not seeking a third term after all and is supporting Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla’s candidacy.

The Washington Street redesign project currently has a completion date of July 24th, 2018, with “all work contemplated from Observer Highway to 8th Street” supposed to be finished by January 20th, 2018, according to the official project website.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I’m no fan of Zimmer, but this is what happens when a councilperson blindly votes for a project but has no real grasp on it. Like it or not, the project, as it is unfolding, is EXACTLY as it was laid out to the public by the Zimmer Administration. It was a bad plan when it was proposed and it remains a bad plan. The corner bump outs are a hazard. But Councilman Ramos voted FOR the project. Now that the public is finally getting to see the reality of the insane plan, he can’t distance himself from his affirmative vote. The time to act was before he voted to give Zimmer the go ahead. Just because election season is in full swing and Ramos has decided that he needs to bash Zimmer in order to make DeFusco look good doesn’t excuse his past ignorance.

    • I don’t think the much needed Washington Street revitalization was ever a bad plan. I think Councilman Ramos knew that when he voted for it repeatedly. It is still a good plan. but his personal motivation is now purely political gamesmanship, as his horse in the race, Michael DeFusco, is by all accounts not doing well including his own poll and he needs to kick up a fuss to pretend is is still a viable and relevant candidate.

  2. This statement from Councilperson Ramos is a bit of a political stunt.
    The reality is that the Washington Street redesign was approved by the council in 2016 after 3 years of discussion and design. When Mr. Ramos says, “The curb bump-outs are now causing a whole different set of safety problems for people along Washington Street, both in cars and on foot,” I am curious to what he is referring. In the design phase of the project turning templates were performed for all vehicles including Hoboken fire trucks and curb bump outs are designed to accommodate their turning radiuses. Curb bump outs are better for pedestrians as they shorten the distance that the pedestrian must cross, making it easier for handicapped, elderly and children. Curb bump outs also allow pedestrians to be more visible to cars. Most people I know are looking forward to the new safety features that Washington Street will incorporate. It would be a shame if pedestrian safety was sacrificed for political gain.

  3. This doesn’t seem like something that all of a sudden would reveal itself to be a problem once it was off of paper and into reality like he said. Guy is just bringing this up now for the election. Kind of turns me off to him right off the bat if this is the best criticism he’s got.

    I don’t follow the day to day politics of Hoboken but even I was aware of the various plans and process that went into Washington, and to me it seemed fairly open to debate and compromise. What a gigantic pain in the ass it must have been to get this project off the ground. I appreciate the website and constant updates.

  4. Bump-outs cause delivery truck to have to pull into intersections to make deliveries making intersections even more dangerous. Also vehicles turning at a bump out end up further into the adjoining lane making a collision between vehicles more likely. Mary A has outlined in the Hoboken Reporter numerous reasons in her editorial as to why these bump-outs were rejected in other crowded urban areas.

  5. I am the newest elected member on the Millburn Township Committee. I invite any Hoboken resident to take a stroll through our town to see how Complete Street Project has had negative consequences on our town, please read our FB page Millburn Complete Insanity. You will hear first hand from our residents how they feel about our “oversized” bump outs and extreme street diets. This project while intended for pedestrian safety has had unintended effect of spilling traffic into our adjoining neighborhoods, never before seen traffic, and devastating effects on our long tern merchants. The are no bike paths and wait to you see our Flexible Parking on concrete!

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