The project, approved by an 8-1 council vote in 2016, will replace old water mains, add safety features like bump outs, timed pedestrian crossing signals, ADA compliant ramps, and repave the patched and pothole covered road.
The Hoboken City Council approved a 29-day extension for the Washington Street Redesign project at its Feb. 7 meeting, moving the end date to Aug. 21.
According to Assistant Business Administrator Patrick Wherry, the contractor asked for the extension due to the suspension of work that occurred in September after a woman pushing a baby carriage was almost hit by a falling traffic light. The woman was not injured.
This incident triggered the city to undergo a safety analysis to ensure the safety of pedestrians, workers, and vehicles.
“The contract permits excusable, non-compensable time-extensions,” said city spokesman Juan Melli. “Each request for an extension is evaluated individually, and the contractor is entitled to any time extensions that they are contractually obligated to receive.”
The council also approved a change order for a total of $10,985. This is the thirteenth change order approved to Underground Utilities, the city’s contractor on the project. The original contract was awarded for $17,563,235. The new total contract amount for the project is $17,872,186.
Wherry said these overages of the contract amount could potentially continue because of unforeseen field conditions that were not known at the time of the design, such as below-ground oil tanks. Test pits, field surveys and a review of records and drawings were performed prior to construction.
“I would prefer a crossing distance that is shorter and safer for my family and children.”—Mayor Ravi Bhalla
So far, milling and paving has been completed from Observer Highway to First Street. However, the original schedule showed milling and paving completed from Observer Highway to Eighth Street by the end of January.
“Paving requires warm weather and asphalt plants typically close for the winter in mid-December and reopen in March,” said Melli, who added that the contractor plans to begin milling and paving again in early spring. “Almost all other work has continued during the winter months, including the construction of sidewalks, ramps, rain gardens, and drains and the installation of water mains, valves, service lines, electrical conduit, and traffic signals.”
During the past two weeks contractors have continued work, including electrical work for traffic signals from Newark Street to First Street, and up to Seventh Street. They also installed curb extensions and sidewalks at Fourth Street, completed water main tie-ins along Seventh and Eighth streets, and dug test pits along Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh streets.
Will plans change?
During the meeting, Council President Ruben Ramos asked if they could reconsider bumpouts north of Eighth Street.
A bumpout is the term used for corner concrete extensions which minimize the distance at a crosswalk between corners.
In the past, members of the public and the council expressed concern about whether emergency vehicles and large trucks could make turns without jumping the curb.
Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher suggested that the city present the project to the City Council again, as it has been two years since the project was approved and she feels the city and public may need a refresher on the work ahead and may have a different perspective moving forward.
“I am open to suggestions,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla, when the Reporter asked if the city would reconsider bumpouts on northern Washington Street. “As of yet, I have not heard a compelling argument for the elimination of curb extensions at any uptown intersections. To the contrary, our data shows that 86 percent of residents ranked pedestrian safety as their top concern and 70 percent said that adding curb extensions should be a priority. As a resident residing just two blocks from Eighth Street and Washington Street, I would prefer a crossing distance that is shorter and safer for my family and children.”
Ramos said at the meeting, “I think it’s the will of the council and the public to see that discussion happen going north of Eighth Street.”
Fisher said in the infrastructure subcommittee they have spoken about Fourteenth Street, as 18-wheelers turn there and may have difficulty..
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.