The City of Hoboken recently presented the final stages of a Complete Streets Redesign plan to modernize Washington Street and improve bicycle and pedestrian safety. The plan includes new pedestrian traffic signals, redesigned bus shelters, and a plethora of cycling infrastructure improvements. Other notable improvements include new sidewalks and crosswalks in conjunction with curb extensions to upgrade pedestrian safety on street corners.
The plan, which is estimated at a cost of $14 million, was prepared by the RBA Group in collaboration with the City of Hoboken, the US Department of Transportation, and the New Jersey Dept. of Transportation. Other outreach activities include stakeholder interviews, a community survey, and public workshops. This interactive approach lead the redesign plan to conclude, “The City of Hoboken Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan takes a bold step forward in articulating a community-led vision for bicycle and pedestrian friendly streets.”
According to the community survey 86% of respondents listed pedestrian safety and accommodations as their top priority, while retail and restaurants and streetscape and landscape design rounded out the top 3 highest priorities. Of the 661 respondents, 61% were aged 30-49, while the 18-29 demographic age range constituted 27% of the total. The pedestrian outreach program and subsequent participation played a significant role in the formulation of the plan and in its physical design.
The new design details of the plan are expected to increase mobility and access to transportation by providing dedicated bicycle facilities and parking. Additionally, skid resistant retroreflective crosswalks provide improved pedestrian visibility, and “Portal” style bus shelters improve transit access and offer an economic benefit. The innovative design outlined in the plan aims to make Washington Street into a complete, green, and smart street.
The City of Hoboken stands to benefit greatly from the implementation of complete streets, as its benefits include the following:
- Safety, access & mobility
- Public Health
- Environmental Quality and Sustainability
- Aesthetics and Livability
- Economics Vitality & Prosperity
These physical and environmental benefits are quantifiable in the economy as well. Bike lanes installed in New York City resulted in a 49% increase of property values on 9th Avenue compared to a 3% increase on all of NYC during the same period. Increased property values and the prospect of more retail and office rents provide extra future economic benefits on Washington Street.
The complete street redesign details specific concept design plans for downtown and uptown Hoboken. The concept plan for downtown provides 25 foot wide sidewalks with 8 feet of bike lanes protected by a concrete buffer. While parking is available on both sides of the road, the travel lanes are reduced to one in each direction. This differs from the concept plan for uptown, which is more auto friendly in relative terms. While the uptown design provides a 5 foot wide bike lane and concrete buffer, the sidewalk width is reduced to 18 feet on each side. Other key differences include angle parking and a bike share lane. The emphasis on automotive traffic in the uptown area of Washington Street allows delivery trucks and other large vehicles to easily enter and exit Hoboken. In contrast, the downtown redesigns are wholly dedicated to pedestrian and bicyclists. While each concept plan improves bicycle and pedestrian safety while increasing transit access, the application of complete streets differs in the context of other transportation factors.
The Washington Street redesign plan aims to address existing infrastructure, including its safety and operational issues. The RBA Group along with the NJDOT and the USDOT and the City of Hoboken believe this implementation will result in enhancing the character of an already vibrant streetscape. Key issues that the study focused on include pedestrian safety, sustainability, traffic circulation, open space, parking, bicycle facilities, wayfinding and signage, and funding opportunities. Through an innovative design concept, Washington Street will continue to host a number of city events and play a key role in pedestrian mobility in Hoboken.
The next steps for the redesign plan are evaluation of public feedback and the presentation of the final concept plan to the City Council of Hoboken. Implementation is dependent upon how the citizens and city council members decide to pay for the project, which is estimated at $14 million. When this transaction is approved, Washington Street and its residents will embark on yearlong construction project that promises to foster both community involvement and economic prosperity.
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