Hudson County ferry study focuses on Jersey City’s Bayfront in latest virtual session

0

The Hudson County Division of Planning’s ongoing ferry study, which revealed six potential sites in November, focused on Jersey City’s Bayfront as a potential site in their latest virtual session last night.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

Bayfront, Bayonne’s Newark Bay, South Harrison, Hoboken, South Kearney, and West New York are being reviewed as possibilities for the Hudson ferry, which would likely go to Manhattan.

Kevin Force, the project manager for the Hudson ferry study, said they have been coordinating their efforts with NJ Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

He explained that Bayfront on Jersey City’s west side is a prime candidate for a ferry stop since 8,000 housing units are being developed, with 35 percent marked as affordable housing.

There will also be space for offices, retail, a school, and 19 acres of open space for recreation.

“We felt it might be a good opportunity to see whether it’s a good idea to look at a ferry stop on the Hackensack River,” Force said.

Bayfront is a 103-acre redevelopment site on Hackensack River currently owned by Jersey City. It would create a new downtown as a focal point for the west side. Bayfront would be made into a major transit hub with a Hudson Bergen light rail stop.

The site plans call for public access to the waterfront: it was previously an industrial site that was contaminated, which has since been addressed.

“It’s a good time to bounce around some ideas. We’re definitely trying to increase transportation on the southern and western ends of the city,” Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley said on the call.

“I am, of course, partial to locations at Bayfront and Port Liberte, especially with the future expansion of the light rail into the Bayfront area.”

“Denise Ridley and I are working together on our common border … “I’m very excited to see this study being done,” began Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey.

Prinz-Arey noted she has been speaking to Hudson County Planning Chief Francesa Giarratana about a ferry study’s merits.

Prinz-Arey added that the Hudson Mall site should be included in the study while they are reviewing the site.

“We’re limited to six sites for the study,” Force replied. He added the six sites will be narrowed to three that will be studied closely.

“Keep Bayfront …That’s going to be a really major development,” Prinz-Arey continued.

“Would the Communipaw Avenue bridge need to be raised each time the ferry went through?” Natalie Cook asked.

Force said the six sites under consideration are being studied since they would not cause a bridge raising, which backs up traffic.

“It goes up at inopportune times each day,” Cook said, noting even small boats cause the drawbridge to be raised.

Force explained they are looking to connect different modes of transportation and facilitate bike use.

“For each of our potential landings, we look at the connection of bike access and routes,” Force said. He added to ensure a new ferry is bike accessible they will reach out to Bike JC for their input.

“It’s much easier to bring your bicycle onto a ferry than a crowded path train,” Force said.

“Were any studies done on the environmental impact?” Martina Downey asked.

Force said they are in touch with the Hackensack Riverkeeper and the Hudson Riverkeeper for assistance.

When asked, Force admitted there’s no ferry operator identified as of yet.

“We’re hoping that if we show favorable findings, potentially a public or private operator might be interested,” he said.

There will be additional public meetings until the outreach period ends in February.

In March, there will be a public comment period on the site. The final report will be released in June.

“We’re still in the data collection and analysis phase. We’re working through our ridership demands data and concept routes,” Force said.