The Jersey City Council okayed the first reading of a measure to make St. Pauls Avenue between Tonnelle and Liberty Avenues a one-way street at last night’s meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I care about the safety of residents around St. Pauls [Avenue]. I do not support another pilot run of [a] St. Pauls one-way. The majority of residents I’ve spoke with have voiced opposition to the one way [via] many phone calls and emails,” stated Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano, who represents the neighborhood where the streets are located.
“There are other options that residents favor that can be implemented: curb extensions, refuge islands, speed bumps, [a] left turn lane on Van Winkle [Avenue]. Residents have requested for a law enforcement presence to enforce traffic laws – that’s one of the problems in this city why we’re having so many problems – we do not have a real traffic division in this city, we did away with the motorcycles.”
Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh said he would vote yes on introduction with the expectation of hearing more from city engineers prior to second reading, to which Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore agreed.
Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise thanked Department of Infrastructure Director Barkha Patel for her community outreach on this issue, as well as Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea for following through on plans to make Lincoln Park a one-way.
Council President Joyce Watterman reiterated that the first reading is to prompt a discussion and to get all stakeholders at the table before the final vote.
“It took three years to do this, and so with that in mind, we have to keep an open mind because she [Patel] did go to the community, community input is in here, but at this time there’s like a discrepancy like we haven’t done anything,” she said.
“So we’re voting yes for introduction, but we have to sit down – what can we live with? That’s a big difference than what we all agree on. What can we live with because there have to be a change on St. Pauls Avenue because the people are not safe there.”
The introduction was approved 6-1(1), with Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera voting no and Boggiano abstaining. Ward E Councilman James Solomon was absent.
The majority of those who spoke about the local legislation during the public portion were in favor of it.
“Speaking to long time residents on my block, they all talk about how not too long ago, they would sit on their stoops and watch their children play. In recent years, this has all changed, trucks come barreling down our street, shaking our homes, despite clear signage that says ‘no trucks allowed,'” explained Sumit Galhotra.
“Reckless drivers speed with no regard for the lives of our children, our parents, or our pets. A local cafe here shuttered and one local area resident summed it up, saying ‘I stopped going there, that street is a traffic sewer,’ showing how traffic also hurts local businesses.”
However, some still expressed dismay about the proposal, such as Mary Miraglia, a resident of the nearby Canco Lofts at 50 Dey St.
“I had to laugh when an earlier speaker said this is about community, because apparently to them, community only means three blocks. I want to emphasize: the traffic problems that exist on St. Pauls Avenue are the same problems that all of us in the area have,” she said.
“And during the period of time when the demonstration for the one-way street was going on, our whole neighborhood was a nightmare. People were driving on the sidewalk, driving down the middle of the street, crossing every which way in front of other cars, honking their horns, every intersection along Tonnelle Ave was totally jammed up.”
Still, Safe Streets Jersey City President Jimmy Lee and one of their board members, Colin DeVries, spoke in favor of the plan.
“We have a hit-and-run epidemic in this city with at least 10 documented cases having occurred in Jersey City since the start of 2023. We need to use every tool, every idea, everything we have control over, to break this pattern of violence,” stated DeVries.
“As evidenced by the city’s annual Vision Zero report released today, the city’s hard working team of traffic engineers have done a great job doing what is within their power to reduce deaths to zero on city streets in 2022 for the first time. And serious injuries dropped from a high of 36 in 2021 to just eight in 2022. This is tremendous progress, we cannot let up.”
I live on Liberty Ave.(which is a one way heading north) near the stretch of St. Paul’s Ave. that is being considered to become a 1 way. Where am I supposed to go to reach other parts of Jersey City by car. I need access to St. Paul’s Ave to go east to doctor appointments, food shopping, Newport Mall, city hall etc. and west to get gas, access to Pulaski Skyway, Rt. 1-9, NJ Turnpike, Rt. 440. You have your speed bumps, marked crosswalks with lights, and pot holes to slow cars down. Your experiment was a nightmare! Leave St. Paul’s a 2 way street.