The controversial closure of a section of Barrow Street that crosses the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza will remain in effect through the end of the year.
According to a notice yesterday from Jersey City Department of Infrastructure, Barrow Street between Christopher Columbus Drive and Bay Street is to remain closed under a “pilot” that went into effect on June 20.
“The city plans to activate” the street “with a mural, seating and enhanced lighting” says the single page document. The mural is to be painted on August 29 and 30. The installation of furniture and lighting are to follow.
Limited access is to be given to emergency vehicles, maintenance, loading and unloading. Those needing access are told to contact the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District.
The closure became the latest flashpoint on the Pedestrian Plaza, with business owners and some residents squaring off against Mayor Fulop, Ward E Councilman James Solomon, and the Harsimus Cove Association.
Mayor Fulop ordered the closure with Ward E Councilman Solomon’s support.
The sudden move immediately drew the ire of local businesses, who complained in a letter to the Jersey City Times that “no businesses or residents impacted by this closure were contacted or notified directly, no community input was solicited, and the public was given minimal, insufficient notice.”
In response, a Harsimus Cove resident supporting permanent closure wrote that “traffic on Erie Street has been awful for a long time with idling cars trying to enter the Holland Tunnel bringing poor air quality to the neighborhood.” At its July meeting, the Harsimus Cove Association endorsed permanent closure of the street. Mayor Fulop retweeted the announcement approvingly.
Protesting businesses were threatened online with boycotts.
The decision to close Barrow Street was, apparently, done without the benefit of traffic data, something usually gathered before major changes to traffic signage and routing.
The Jersey City Times asked the city for any analysis of traffic on the affected sections of Barrow and Erie streets and was told that the “Office of Engineering Traffic & Transactions conducted their search, and no responsive records were located.”
In the case of other major changes to traffic, studies have been done. In February, a traffic study was conducted before the city council designated Mallory and Lexington avenues a “multi-way stop control intersection.” In 2022, the city performed an extensive three year study prior to making a recommendation to close a portion of St. Pauls Avenue to eastbound traffic, a proposal that was ultimately voted down by the city council.
Both City Council President Joyce Watterman and Solomon have met privately with the local businesses to hear their concerns.