With the New Jersey Turnpike as a backdrop, a coalition of activists and local officials gathered yesterday to protest a $4.7 billion plan that would rebuild and widen the turnpike over an 8.1 mile stretch from Exit 14 in Newark to the Holland Tunnel. Work would include replacement of the Newark Bay Bridge.
The project, supported by Governor Murphy and a range of construction unions, has drawn widespread criticism.
“While we in JC and Hudson County are trying to make our transportation system safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and suitable for the year 2050 and beyond, this project wants to take us back to 1950 and the discredited, discarded, bankrupt transportation concepts of that era that got us into this mess in the first place” said Tony Borelli, Vice President of Bike JC.
The city councils for both Jersey City and Hoboken have passed resolutions opposing the plan. The mayors of both cities have, likewise, come out against it.
Representing Mayor Fulop, Barkha Patel, Jersey City’s Director of Infrastructure, noted that “Billions of dollars have been invested into highway expansion projects across the country in the name of increased capacity and these projects have resulted in worsened conditions almost immediately after being completed.”
“This is one of the worst ideas in Hudson County in recent memory” said Ward E Councilman James Solomon.
“If you need to find something to do with five billion dollars, I have some suggestions” quipped Ward F Councilman Frank Gilmore.
John Reichman of Empower New Jersey, which includes 135 groups across the state, listed numerous road widening project from California to Connecticut that have been cancelled. “All over the country, people are beating back highway projects.”
Said Doug O’Malley of Environment New Jersey. “This is fight for the quality of life for Jersey City residents.”
Hudson County Commissioner William O’Dea said “Phil Murphy should just come one day and just walk…and after he walks about a mile and sees the impact it’s going to have on existing properties, on a public housing site…on Ferris High School…I think he would realize that’s it, kill the idea.”
In August, a group representing building trades condemned the votes of the Jersey City and Hoboken city councils, writing that “Road expansion will reduce congestion and pollution from vehicles idling as well as grow both the local and regional economies.”
In September, Congressman-elect Rob Menendez proposed a compromise plan that would incorporate a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane and designated truck-only entrances and exits for Greenville and Bayonne.