The Jersey City Council decisively voted down making a portion of St. Pauls Avenue, between Tonnelle and Liberty Avenues, a one-way street at Wednesday’s meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The measure passed on first reading last month by a tally of 6-1(1) last month, with Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera voting no and Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano abstaining.
Boggiano, who represents the area where the potential one-way would go, spoke against the concept prior to public comment.
“The Office of Infrastructure has done a great job, I do appreciate their work. The community and the council members have been working together on this issue. Everyone is in agreement that safety is important for the residents, but this is not a vote against safety,” he began.
” .. We’ll install the following traffic safety measures: speed humps, curb extensions, sharrows, chicanes, pedestrian islands. Most residents on the city survey, a private survey, said they do not want any one-way, including the one-block one way. According to the traffic study, three out of the four residents are against the proposed one-block one way.”
He continued that this area is not included in the city’s high-injury study and urged the council to vote this down.
Arnold Bettinger, a former Ward C councilman and Democratic committeeman, agreed with Boggiano’s assessment.
“I humbly ask you to vote no in changing the traffic pattern of St. Pauls Avenue and rerouting this traffic onto Van Winkle, which would cause a hardship for those residents, along with increasing traffic onto Kennedy Boulevard and causing congestion on Newark Avenue,” he said.
The prior ordinance before the council was related, asking them to consider installing a
southbound left turn lane on Tonnelle Avenue at Van Winkle Avenue, though that was voted down 0-7(1), with Ward E Councilman James Solomon abstaining.
Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera was absent.
Vik Aggarwal, the Brunswick Towers Condo Association president, noted that they have 146 units and approximately 400 residents. He indicated that first responders and garbage trucks need to have the ability to turn around on St. Pauls Avenue to access their building.
“Given the conversation to put center islands and curb extensions, this creates a safety issue. As everyone knows, every extra minute it takes to get to a fire, get in an ambulance, caused deadly outcomes.”
He also said that in the 20 years he’s lived here, he’s never felt unsafe crossing St. Pauls Avenue. The vice president of the same condo association, Robert Gilmore, said he agreed with Aggarwal wholeheartedly, as did another building resident, Elizabeth McNierney.
Sean Kilby, a 12-year resident of Journal Square who commuted there for a decade prior, pointed out that St. Pauls Avenue has been the main access point to and from highways.
“The approach here is treating the road like some side street that’s being abused, not as the main access road it actually is. We’ve heard a lot about community safety as it relates to the proposed changes to St. Pauls and I commend the city planners and traffic departments for taking initiatives to make our city safer,” he stated.
“While changing the street to a one way may make a small section of St. Pauls marginally safer, and improve the property values of a few owners, the impacts to the surrounding neighborhood will be detrimental to both the safety and property values of the others.”
Some still spoke in favor, including Safe Streets Jersey City President Jimmy Lee, who also did so last month.
“There’s two things that will happen: the first is traffic will fill up the extra space and no one will move any faster. The second thing, and what we’re effected by here, on St. Pauls and all throughout Downtown Jersey City, is cut through traffic,” he declared.”
“The cut through traffic will increase if capacity is increased. There are many reasons to implement the one-way for St. Pauls. Of the many proposals already explored, it is the only proposal that can deter illegal cut through truck traffic that is damaging homes, and importantly, will be the strongest measure to meet the safety needs of the children of P.S. 31 and residents of the neighborhood.”
Ayla Schermer, the president of Bike JC, further contended that St. Pauls Avenue is unsafe for pedestrians, scooterists, people in wheelchairs, and “all vulnerable road users” alike, citing a viral Twitter video of a young child’s bike getting struck by a car.
While he was not injured, she argued that he is “extremely luck to be alive,” but we can’t count on everyone being so lucky.
After about two hours of public comment, the council voted the measure down by a tally of 0-7(1), with Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore abstaining and Rivera absent.