Hudson Place Pedestrian Plaza: Better for Business, and Safer for People

Imagine stepping off your bus, ferry, or train at Hoboken Terminal and onto a new pedestrian plaza at Hudson Place. From spring to fall, you can shop at the downtown farmers’ market, and enjoy expanded outdoor seating at adjacent restaurants and bars. A pop-up holiday market brings cheer to the cold winter months. Year-round, Hoboken has a new, safe, and welcoming civic space at its namesake transit hub.

Hudson Place Pedestrian Plaza

Year-round, Hoboken has a new, safe, and welcoming civic space at its namesake transit hub.

It’s possible, if Hudson Place is closed to traffic between Hudson and River Streets. Creating the Hudson Place Pedestrian Plaza improves safety for the tens of thousands of pedestrians who use mass transit at Hoboken Terminal, and creates a better environment for the local businesses that depend on foot traffic. It improves transit access and traffic flow on the surrounding streets, provides safer space to drop off and pick up transit riders, and increases bicycle and vehicle parking. It is the result of a yearlong study of traffic patterns, pedestrian volumes, sidewalk infrastructure, and development plans for southeast Hoboken. Continues…

What’s Involved in Upgrading a Century-old Subway Signal System?

Subway systems like PATH and the New York City Subway need ongoing maintenance to maintain service for the enable more frequent and reliable subway service. A multi-year effort is underway to overhaul the signal systems used on both systems, and since both operate 24/7, the work is often squeezed in during nights and weekends when passenger demand is lighter. In 2014 and 2015, PATH service between Exchange Place in Jersey City and the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan was suspended on some weekends from 11PM Friday-5AM Monday, and in 2016 PATH service between Hoboken-33rd Street service was suspended for 17 weekends between August and December.

These service suspensions allow crews to install a brand new, federally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) signal system that will increase safety and permit trains to run more frequently. They are also enabling repair of infrastructure in the tunnels damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Diagram of PATH routes designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects

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Towers & Transit: Real Estate Projects Should Help Pay for Transportation Improvements

The Wall Street Journal article PATH Strains Under Housing Boom examines an important issue: the interplay between transit capacity and real estate development, with a focus on PATH ridership growth as neighborhoods in Jersey City and Hoboken served by the subway connecting NY & NJ continue to experience strong growth.

Port Authority chairman John Degnan noted that the agency is looking to the cities served by PATH, and the real estate developers who build new projects in close proximity to PATH stations, to help fund capacity upgrades.

“Mr. Degnan said the Port Authority planned to seek capital contributions from cities and developers that benefit from projects that increase the PATH’s capacity and expand the system. That would mark a shift in how the Port Authority pays for PATH improvements.”

This approach is being used in cities around the world – Hong Kong is often cited as a model – as well as in New York. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration issued bonds backed by future tax revenues from a special district to expand the New York City Subway to the new Hudson Yards neighborhood taking shape on Mahanttan’s far west side.

7 Extension - 34 St Hudson Yards exterior

The 7 Train extension to Hudson Yards was funded by New York City using bonds backed by future tax revenues from the new Hudson Yards neighborhood.

More recently, SL Green, the city’s largest commercial landlord, agreed to fund $200 million in subway upgrades in exchange for approval to build a 1,500 foot tower next to Grand Central Terminal.

The response from local elected officials quoted in the article is concerning. It doesn’t serve residents of the region well when mayors readily punt responsibility to the Port Authority simply because it has been an easy target for criticism in recent years. One official even called the situation, “a brewing crisis” but let’s be clear: the rising crime and hollowing out of urban centers that reached its peak in the 1980s and early 1990s was a crisis. The need for cities and transit agencies to work together to fund transit infrastructure that supports urban cores that are once again growing is not a crisis. It’s an opportunity that demands committed leadership.

Joy, Reflection Mark Opening of WTC Hub and Subway-PATH Connection

A few weeks before the opening of the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, PATH invited journalists and members of the PATH Riders Council for a behind-the-scenes tour.

WTC Transportation Hub at night

WTC Transportation Hub at night

The new Transportation Hub is the fourth station to occupy the site. The first, built in 1909 as the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad’s Hudson Terminal, was replaced by a new station in 1971 under the original World Trade Center twin towers. After that station was destroyed on September 11, 2001, a temporary station opened in 2003. In October 2013, the West Concourse – the first portion of the new Hub – opened, connecting the Transportation Hub and Brookfield Place (formerly known as the World Financial Center). Platform A opened to regular PATH service in February 2014, followed by Platform B in May 2015. Continues…

What’s the Best Use of Street Space in an Urban Area?

Hoboken, Inc. reports that the fate of a much-anticipated Trader Joe’s supermarket in the north end of Hoboken may come down to 24 on-street parking spaces.

That’s right: street parking spots. The thing that may prevent or hinder Trader Joe’s, along with its good jobs, affordable food options + the enormous positive effect it has on property values? The loss of some street parking.

Trader Joe's is planned for the ground floor space in a mixed-use development at the corner of 14th Street and Willow Avenue.

Trader Joe’s is planned for the ground floor space in a mixed-use development at the corner of 14th Street and Willow Avenue.

Roads and streets existed long before cars, and the notion that a public good should be made available for free or below market prices to a single class of private users is a pretty unfair distribution of public resources. The idea that a small reduction in on-street parking could be an obstacle to the addition of a much-desired and much-needed business shows just how much we miss the mark when parking is considered the highest-priority use of street space in an urban area. Hoboken, Inc.:

Street parking spots are some of the worst allocations of city resources. If residents or the city really wanted more parking, we should increase the price of a Hoboken resident parking permit, which currently stands at an insanely undervalued $15 a year. Such a low price encourages everyone to have a car parked on the city streets – which we all subsidize.

Parking is not a guaranteed right, and the street space used for on-street parking can accommodate so many other uses that benefit a larger number of people. In this case, providing adequate access for deliveries to a new Trader Joe’s would benefit thousands of Hooken and Hudson County residents who would shop at the store, be employed directly by the store, or be employed as a result of the store’s presence. There’s no way that 24 parking spaces can provide equivalent benefits to as much of the population. They only directly benefit a maximum of 24 vehicle drivers at a time, and indirectly benefit a maximum of 96 vehicle passengers, assuming every vehicle using these spaces carries four passengers in addition to a driver.

If you live in Hoboken​, please attend the City Council special meeting – April 26, 7PM at City Hall, 94 Washington Street – to support the conversion of these parking spaces to create a delivery zone for the proposed new Trader Joe’s. We need a new supermarket to support the growing north end of the city, and the City Council needs to hear voices that support equitable use of public resources.

UPDATE: You spoke, and the City Council listened. Enough residents spoke at the April 26, 2016 meeting to convince the City Council to vote to approve a resolution to convert parking spaces to accommodate deliveries. The new Trader Joe’s is scheduled to open in May 2017.

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