The New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers has named the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza in Jersey City the “Municipal Project of the Year.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“On behalf of the society, we commend Paul Russo, PE, on his outstanding work on the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Project and his first place honor,” NJSME Executive Director Matthew Halpin said in a statement.
“The administration’s innovation has created a transformation of the area, which now allows for the community to enjoy more open space, offers ADA accessibility and pedestrian safety, all while delivering an aesthetically pleasing plaza to the city.”
The $6.7 million renovation, which cut the ribbon in July, raised the existing roadway to meet the new trench drainage system, which also provides curb-less ADA accessibility to the plaza.
Hydronic excavation was used for the footings of the decorative poles, which support the programmable LED string lights that illuminate the plaza, leaving a distinct and welcoming impression on customers and passive users.
“After careful consideration, in 2015, we took a chance to establish a safe space for pedestrians where we could foster community and stimulate our local economy. To receive this award from the state-level seven years later further confirms that our vision has become a reality and a major success,” added Mayor Steven Fulop.
“This plaza permanency project included more tree plantings, ADA accessibility, built-in seating, bicycle racks, better lighting for improved visibility, and steel bollards near active portions of the roadway to ensure the safety of pedestrians as part of Jersey City’s commitment to Vision Zero.”
The Pedestrian Mall was first closed to vehicles in 2015 as a pilot program to limit traffic and create a pedestrian destination. The plaza was expanded to a second block in 2018.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the plaza was lengthened to Grove Street between Montgomery Street and Christopher Columbus Drive, as well as 1st Street and Newark Avenue.
The expanded outdoor capacity helped restaurants and small businesses stay afloat and safely reopen sooner.
“This was a significant undertaking because we really wanted to make sure we met all the community’s needs and wants within the design, especially for our local businesses who stand to benefit in a major way from the permanency project. We also did not want to disrupt the active area during construction,” added Russo.
“After years of creating a place where residents and visitors know they can go year-round to enjoy the outdoors, the restaurants, the shops, and the overall ambiance, we are very proud to have delivered on this special project and to take home an award in the process is an added bonus I am grateful for.”
Presented at this year’s New Jersey League of Municipalities in Atlantic City, the award for Municipal Project of the Year was accepted by Jersey City’s Engineering team.