We are writing to you as the residents and small business owners of Jersey City opposed to the Administration’s closure of Barrow Street between Christopher Columbus Boulevard and Bay Street in Downtown Jersey City.
This dramatic change came to our attention via a social media announcement on June 22nd, 2023, one day before the closure. 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 (there was no signage on Barrow Street northbound at all).
While we understand there is a need to protect pedestrians, and a desire to increase the protections, this is not the way. Such a massive change to Downtown Jersey City traffic patterns and parking was done with no plans in place to mitigate traffic or replace the lost parking spaces and delivery zones, in an area that is already suffocated. This will assuredly deflect the safety issues elsewhere, and increase risks to the “Vision Zero” program.
This change, without plans in place to ease the flow of traffic or assist at the adjacent intersections that will now dramatically increase in terms of vehicular usage, immediately damages the quality of life in and around Jersey City, and threatens to have a short and long term economic impact. Barrow to Erie is a key route in, out, and through Jersey City. By cutting this major thoroughfare you will be driving traffic onto roads and into neighborhoods and school zones that can’t safely or sufficiently accommodate the flow. This will adversely impact residents, business owners, and property owners everywhere Downtown.
Traffic will be forced to travel on feeder streets, which will have negative consequences for the people who live, travel, or walk on those streets. Navigational Apps will not stop because of this, but funnel traffic elsewhee into our community that is not prepared to be a major passageway. Thus, this closure also will not allow for safe streets, and have the opposite impact as its intentions.
We are all very upset, fear for and see the economic impact on our businesses, and the quality-of-life effect on our community. The Plaza already has significant problems that have not been addressed, including access, parking, and delivery options, as well as a growing homeless population. This not only ignores that, but amplifies the issues.
As the residents and businesses most directly impacted by this decision, we implore the City to revisit the alternatives and place this decision on hold; to work together with the community to find an equitable solution, not to use our livelihoods and quality of life as a test program. A decision such as this requires the need for higher levels of control at critical intersections that will be impacted, that are already overwhelmed. These controls are not in place, nor are there plans.
While this decision was made to create one safer intersection, the collateral damage on all surrounding streets, intersections, and public crossings will offset any positive impact. Increased traffic, lower visibility, and more frustrated drivers will create more harm than good. Dangerous surrounding intersections will become more so.
Barrow Street is crucial for our residents’ daily lives and businesses to survive. Our economy only works if people can visit us and support us, and this will further discourage folks that cannot walk to the area of the Pedestrian Plaza from visiting it. Reducing parking and increasing traffic is a recipe for economic disaster and further alieniates areas such as West Side, The Heights, Greenville, and Bergen Lafayette, who already voice complaints that Downtown is inaccessible, or shown favoritism. This matter negatively impacts all of Jersey City, not just a small stretch of Downtown.
Moreover, this decision was made without the “pilot” of less restrictive measures suggested by our community which have long been ignored, such as a traffic light, crossing guards, or a more permanent barriers funneling pedestrians to use proper crossings. Closing Barrow between select hours (ie 7pm – 5am) could be a solution that allows deliveries and parking for the affected businesses, with less impact on traffic. The City of Jersey City has installed posts and chains connecting them in surrounding areas to control pedestrian flow, but lacks those chains at this critical intersection, basically encouraging jay-walking and subjecting pedestrians to dangerous conditions. In addition there are no parking lots or garages being built to accommodate the residents and customers that come to live, dine and shop in downtown Jersey City.
In summary, by cutting this major thoroughfare you will be driving traffic onto roads that can’t accommodate the additional congestion, in areas which the City has already acknowledged the need for greater safety measures at (ie Bay and Marin). Further, there are 12 parking spaces being taken away and no alternatives are being given, nor are accommodations being made for businesses that need accessibility for delivery vehicles to and from. Nor is there a handicapped parking for those who are disabled going to doctors appointments, to shop, or eat on the Plaza.
The city has chosen to undertake this in summer months, as a “pilot,” when traffic is at its lowest (and already bad), schools are out, and many residents are traveling. In other words, when the impact will be at its lowest. It is not the right time to conduct a “pilot” as the results will be unreliable and inaccurate, and the voices against it will be muted.
The potential for irreparable economic harm done to the affected community alone, while still suffers from the effects of Covid on our businesses, is enough to call for an immediate injunction on this project until proper studies can be done, plans put in place, and public feedback be solicited. The potential negative impact on quality of life and overall safety only furthers that need.
We implore the City to reopen Barrow Street immediately, and suggest that the City of Jersey City review the alternative options suggested to increase pedestrian safety while avoiding the negative impact to our neighborhoods and businesses. This project can be re-visited when adequate safety and traffic flow measures are put in place to truly measure the impact and handle the increased traffic. It should not be a priority.
Robyn Grodner – Morlees
Paul Kermizian – Barcade
Cammy O’Callaghan – Grace O’Malley’s and Keyhole
Sonia Zayas and Vanessa Vega – Sensory Kids
Brian Kulbacki – Departed Soles Brewing Company
Lindsay Gomeringer – Pet Shop Bar
Will Kelly – Skinner’s Loft
Peter and David Park – P&K
Carmen Mendiola -143 Newark Ave
Giovanni Galo – Balkan Barber Shop
Michael Lee – Natures House
Kevin Seabrook – Caldwell Banker
Manan Shah – Oliva
Khoa v Tran – Nail Tek-201-650-6451
Belaid Heraz – Fussy Friends
Kevin Hunt – Ela
Vicente Hichez – Vincente
Ahmad Islam – 99cent Dream
Roshni Desai – Drs Savoy, Siegel & Desai Optometrists
David Lee – Kimchi Guys