Opposition remains for a $4.7 billion Turnpike expansion in Jersey City and Bayonne, based on public comment at this morning’s New Jersey Turnpike Authority meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Use the $4.7 billion to repair the bridge and extension and spend the rest on public transportation. Hudson and Essex counties have the worst air in the county. Bringing more cars in will make it worse,” said attorney John Reichman, who is representing Empower NJ.
While the NJTA Board of Commissioners approved a $28 million widening project for Parkway service areas, the eight public speakers of the day were more interested in the expansion plan, which was also mostly panned at their prior meeting.
“I want to be clear that we have decades and decades of research, that through the damage to our cities and our communities, about widening highways. We make our air dirtier, we harm our children’s education, and we clog our streets with more and more cars that are going to end up in the same bottleneck they currently are in,” said Ward E Councilman James Solomon.
” … I’ve got to be honest, this idea to widen the Turnpike through my city, and our city, is one of the worst in recent memory,” he said, also noting that the city is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars already on how to alleviate traffic from the Holland Tunnel.
The three-stage proposal would widen the extension to four lanes in both directions – replacing exit 14 in Newark and 14A in Bayonne.
The next phase would widen 14A to Columbus Drive in Jersey City to three lanes, while the final phase would replace elevated structures from Columbus Drive to Jersey Avenue.
Another Jersey City resident, Talia Schwartz, said that while she has a car and frequently sits in Holland Tunnel traffic, said the authority needs to come up with a more efficient proposal.
“This authority isn’t really thinking about how to reduce congestion of look at other alternatives other than just making more highways, which we know is not realistic to carry out. But I did want to give you a little bit more insight as to why I’m opposing the expansion,” she began.
“One is I have two kids, one with asthma, we used to live very close to the tunnel and now we’ve moved a little bit further away and his asthma actually gets better every time we leave this area … so I’m very invested in improving the air quality in the city and the region.”
While he didn’t call into the meeting, Mayor Steven Fulop has previously come out against the NJTA’s Turnpike widening plan as well.
Opponents of the plan have dubbed it the “NJ Turnpike Trap” and have set up a website explaining their point of view.