The Hoboken City Council passed an amended version of the Washington Street redesign plan at last night’s meeting, despite infighting on the board between 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo – who also took some shots at Mayor Dawn Zimmer – and Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla.
“My decision is if we are going to move forward (with the Washington Street redesign), we should move forward with a design that doesn’t include bike lanes,” Zimmer.
Ilmar Klaussen, a Hoboken resident, took out his tape measure to explain the predicament from his point of view.
“I don’t how many tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money you spent on these engineers proposing these things that if you took out a tape measure you see that it doesn’t work.”
It was Russo who repeated what the mayor said and truly questioned the efficiency of T&M Associates, who are responsible for the design and engineering plan for Washington Street.
Russo mentioned the idea of sharrows instead of bike lanes: “we are looking at 140-space increase if we have sharrows in driving lanes,” said Russo.
“Those are the things that we could have done, they could have been presented to the council in a very different way if in fact the mayor was being truthful and she supports no bike lanes.”
Jaclyn Flor, the vice president of T&M Associates, began with a presentation of the two designs that were introduced at the special meeting held on February 8th, reminding council members and the public that both uptown and downtown had one way-protected bike lanes on each side.
Flor also reiterated, that despite the design change, the goals are still the same: “safety, improved roads, improved aesthetics, increased mobility and transit access.”
The new Class II Redesign included a proposed cross section for downtown with parking on each side, 11 foot travel lanes, and a turning lane in the middle for left turn movements.
It also proposed a cross section for uptown, including parallel parking on one side with an 11 foot travel lane, center turning lane for right turns and a 14′ travel lane with 60-degree angle parking.
With the downtown proposed intersection configuration, the curb extensions or “bump outs” remain the same elevation of the sidewalks, but was pulled back six feet from the original proposal.
“Once the council moves forward with implementing some revised parking strategies that can address some of the concerns that came from the business community about double parking and the need for more turnover and the need for more loading, only at that time do we reconsider revisiting,” said Flor after completing her presentation.
The proposed Class II bike lanes include 8-inch parallel parking with 6-inch buffered bike lanes on both sides, and 11-foot travel lanes.
For uptown, there will be 8-inch parallel parking with an 11-inch travel lane on the east side of Washington Street and 60-degree parking, a 14-inch travel lane and 6-inch buffered bike lanes on each side.
On the resolution, it was 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, Councilman-at-Large James Doyle and Hoboken City Council President Jennifer Giattino that voted yes.
Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla then proposed an amendment to preserve the 21 parking spaces and maximize angle parking.
“Whereas the city council wishes to preserve approximately 21 parking spaces moving north,” he explained.
“Remove protected bike lanes from Washington Street Design and add Class II Bike lanes on Washington Street, except for 8th street moving north, where the plan shall include sharrows in lieu of Class 2 bike lanes in order to preserve parking in this area, which will preserve angle parking, in a manner that preserves and increases parking.”
The vote for the amendment was 8-1, with Giattino being the only one voting against.
“I personally am not comfortable with nine council members, who are not engineers, sitting here designing Washington Street,” she said.
This morning, Zimmer issued a statement regarding the city council’s vote on the project.
“I look forward to working with the city council going forward to try protected bike lanes on other less commercial and busy streets,” the mayor said.
“It will also be important to implement new parking policies that will ensure that the Class II bikes lanes from Observer Highway to 8th Street, on the traffic side of the roadway that the council preferred, to protected bike lanes, can become a usable and safe bike lane for bicyclists on Washington Street.”