Jersey City joins a county-wide coalition that includes Hoboken and numerous community groups
Seven members of the Jersey City Municipal Council are co-sponsoring a resolution rejecting a plan to widen a section of the New Jersey Turnpike.
The project would widen the Turnpike Extension and replace elevated structures in phases: first, between Exit 14 in Newark and 14A in Bayonne, including replacement of the 65-year-old Newark Bay Bridge; second, between 14A and Columbus Drive exit in Jersey City; and third, re-doing the elevated roadway from Columbus Drive to Grand Street.
“At this time, the expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike does not appear favorable to the residents of Jersey City,” said City Council President Joyce Watterman. “It is undeniable that one of the many hardships Jersey City residents face is the amount of vehicle traffic that comes through our city on a daily basis. Our roads are simply too congested to accommodate an increase in traffic. I understand that while this expansion is concentrated on the Turnpike, I am convinced that our residents will bear the brunt and disruption this expansion can cause, therefore I am against the Turnpike expansion.”
Co-sponsoring the resolution are Councilmember-At-Large Daniel Rivera, Councilmember Mira Prinz-Arey of Ward B, Richard Boggiano of Ward C, Councilmember Yousef Saleh of Ward D, Councilmember James Solomon of Ward E, and Councilmember Frank E Gilmore of Ward F.
The plan is also opposed by the Hoboken City Council, which passed a resolution in opposition to it last night, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and a coalition of community groups including EmpowerNJ, Safe Streets JC, Bike JC, Sustainable JC, Journal Square Community Association and the Harsimus Cove Association.
Opponents argue that the project will have a harmful environmental impact and worsen traffic throughout Jersey City. In a public statement released earlier this year, Barkha Patel, director of Jersey City’s Department of Infrastructure, writing on behalf of Mayor Fulop agreed, saying the project – whose cost is estimated at $4.7 billion – will only exacerbate existing traffic, pollution and noise.
“While I understand that infrastructure upgrades along the turnpike and bridges are very necessary, the lane expansion in Jersey City is a short-sided solution to try and fix traffic issues,” said Mira-Prinz Arey, Ward B Councilmember. “The Turnpike Authority should consider how best to include much needed public transit options to any work moving forward. There are opportunities here to address aging infrastructure with innovative transit solutions. Public transportation improvements will do more to stimulate economic development and create good jobs than expanding highways.”
“I stand with my fellow Councilmembers and agree that the expansion is wrong for Jersey City,” said Richard Boggiano, Ward C Councilmember. “Our great city is already overburdened by traffic and the negative consequences of the congestion it brings. The expansion is not right for our City, our environment, and the direction our State is moving towards.”
“I believe the turnpike expansion should be off the table,” said Yousef Saleh, Ward D Councilmember. “There are other ways to improve the Turnpike such as more access for buses and better enforcement of aggressive driving that causes crashes and ultimately leads to the backing up of traffic. I believe the Turnpike Authority can spend the money in other ways. I also believe the Turnpike Authority should conduct a study, a climate impact test and cost-benefit analysis before going ahead with any highway expansion projects and present the results to the community for feedback before making any decisions.”
“Taxpayers should never pay more money for worse outcomes,” said James Solomon, Ward E Councilmember. “This is a classic example of wasteful spending; the Turnpike Authority could and should invest the billions of dollars this project would cost in expanding access to public transportation across the state, ensuring more people have a green alternative to cars in the midst of the climate crisis. Instead, the Turnpike authority has chosen a plan that will pollute our air and clog our streets—and that is completely unacceptable.”
“This expansion of the turnpike lanes will stagnate the traffic flow causing an unwelcoming headache for Jersey City drivers and residents,” said Frank Gilmore, Ward F Councilmmember. “The idea that this expansion will increase the traffic flow fails logically and logistically seeing that the traffic will essentially have the same points of egress.”