According to Jacob Delemos, the spokesman for Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, the county received a grant of approximately $230,000 to conduct a feasibility study of whether the pedestrian crossing footbridge can be constructed at the site.
"Right now, it's just a lot of preliminary work," Delemos said. "The study will go to see if we can solicit proposals from engineering firms."
Delemos said that the grant to conduct the feasibility study came from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Association, a group for which Janiszewski serves as chairman.
Delemos also said that the area in question, near the popular Columbia Park shopping plaza, is heavily traveled by both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
"There were definitely some pedestrian concerns at the site," Delemos said. "It's a heavily traveled portion of Kennedy Boulevard and we're looking to see if anything can be done to create a safer environment at that intersection."
Vehicles coming off state highway Route 495 onto Kennedy Boulevard also cause problems for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic, as well as the traffic entering and leaving the Columbia Park shopping center.
The study will enable county officials to determine possible costs, as well as the route of the crossing, either above ground or under ground.
A similar pedestrian crossing has been tentatively slated to be built across Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City, in the middle of the St. Peter's College campus.
"We're looking at every avenue possible," Delemos said. "We're seeing if it can be done, if the funding is there. The study will determine the best course the county could take."
Delemos said that any extensive pedestrian footbridge crossing would need approval from the administrations of both North Bergen and Union City.
"Although Kennedy Boulevard is a county road, we will certainly have the input of the mayors [Union City's Brian Stack and North Bergen's Nicholas Sacco] concerning the project," Delemos said.
Delemos said that the county engineer, Bob Jasek, and his staff of engineers, have been examining the site for several years as a possible site for a pedestrian crossing.
"Since there were concerns from residents, the county engineers looked into it and made a recommendation," Delemos said. "They have given their direction which way the county should go."
Delemos said that the first series of proposals from prospective engineering firms will be accepted this week. "Again, everything is strictly preliminary," Delemos said. "We want to see something get done at the location, but we have to wait to see when the study comes out. It would be an extensive project and we would review the best avenue, whether it's an overpass or an underpass. But it's something that we're taking very seriously. There are lot of things that have to be taken under consideration. This is only the first step."
Delemos said that if a pedestrian crossing is approved to be built, it would approximately take two years for construction.
Part of the study will determine the source of funding for the project as well.