The long-awaited walkway between Hoboken’s train station and Jersey City’s Newport section opened on Sept. 7 and is getting more and more foot traffic every day.
But the walkway across the Long Slip Canal closes each night at 9 p.m., and residents are crying foul.
N.J. Transit announced on Friday that a ribbon-cutting event will be held this Monday, Sept. 21 at 2:30 p.m. N.J. Transit said they will likely address the limited hours at the meeting.
Attendees for the event include Gov. Jon Corzine, Sen. Robert Menendez, and Jamie LeFrak, managing director of LeFrak Organization, a New York City development company that built most of Newport and owns a portion of the walkway.
The Long Slip Pedestrian Bridge runs over a narrow body of water beside the Hoboken Train Terminal Light Rail station. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) contributed over $6.4 million to the bridge construction.
“They just cannot limit the hours.” – Helen Manogue
Long Slip Canal, as it was known in Hoboken’s industrial days, is located on a portion of the southern waterfront behind the tracks of N.J. Transit’s trainyards.
The walkway runs along the back of a development site that N.J. Transit has proposed. They envision 36 acres of development including a 70-story commercial tower and residential high-rise towers. Some Hoboken residents believe that project would be out of scale with the rest of the area.
The bridge posts hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. between April 1 and Oct. 31, and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. between Nov. 1 and March 31.
While some residents complained that the hours will inhibit their ability to shop and exercise later in the night, one activist said the closure is against the law.
Helen Manogue, a community activist who has spent years fighting for public access to the waterfront, said she has contacted the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to let them know public access cannot be limited on the waterfront.
“We made it clear to the [DEP] that we really feel that something must be done,” Manogue said last week. “They just cannot limit the hours that people can be on the walkway.”
She said the time limitations, if allowed by the state, would set a precedent for many other waterfront land owners along the 18.5-linear mile stretch from the George Washington Bridge to the Bayonne Bridge.
Manogue is president of the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy, a group dedicated to making sure citizens to have complete access the waterfront.
She has called the state and sent a letter to Menendez. So far she has not gotten a response.
The portion of the walkway area that closes is owned by LeFrak, and N.J. Transit officials said Friday that the developer will most likely address the issue at the ribbon-cutting.
Representatives from the development firm were unavailable for comment last week, but they are reportedly concerned about liability and safety on the walkway.
“I can understand the concerns about liability,” Manogue said. But the Land Owner’s Liability Act, she said, greatly “reduces the risk” of liability “specifically for waterfront property.”
The walkway was funded by taxpayer dollars, she said, and should be made accessible.
Otherwise, “It’s $6.4 million wasted,” she said.
Manogue called the concerns about safety “fear mongering” on the part of a developer who may be looking for leniency in building their next project.
“We’re doing our best to get this accomplished,” she said.
In the meantime, Hoboken resident Chris Pickering has one request: “Can you leave it open ’til the time BJ’s closes?”
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at email@example.com.