"It goes right to the Light Rail," said Turner. "What we [hope] is for people to get out of their cars and use mass transportation."
The staircase at Pershing Road has been in the works for the past two years, and many North Hudson residents have been eagerly awaiting the opening.
"I'm happy, I live at The Galaxy and I literally just took the bus and [now] walking down the stairs to take the Light Rail," said Gina Jackson of Guttenberg, who was one of the first local residents to use the stairs. "The only thing you need is an elevator."
Jackson travels from Hoboken to New York City every Wednesday and now she can hop on the Light Rail to get to the PATH Station.
"[I've] got to go to Pilates and I'm tired of paying $12 to park in Hoboken," said Jackson.
"We appreciate everyone's patience," said Turner. "When you build something that has never been built before it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience, but eventually it's going to get there."
The staircase at Pershing Road was a joint venture between the Weehawken Town Council, the Planning Board, the State Department of Community, New Jersey Transit, and Roseland Property Company.
Roseland Property designed and built the staircase as part of their development projects along the Weehawken waterfront.
"We have been developers in Weehawken since the inception of the waterfront," said Carl Goldberg, managing partner for Roseland Properties.
"Mayor Turner and the council told us from the onset they wanted to enhance access to the waterfront."
The project cost about $1.6 million and was completely funded by Roseland Property.
"This came at no cost to the taxpayers," said Turner.
Mayor Turner and the council requested that they build the staircase, so that residents atop the Palisades Cliffs have not only access to the waterfront, but to public transportation hubs like the NJ/NY Waterway Ferry Terminal and the Weehawken Light Rail Station.
"We want to enlarge access to mass transit," said Turner. Currently residents can take the Liberty Place staircase from Boulevard East down to Pershing Road, where the town shuttle bus and New Jersey Transit busses can pick up and take riders to the Ferry terminal or the Light Rail.
The new staircase at Persian Road now gives pedestrians a second way to access the Weehawken Light Rail Station. A sidewalk walkway starting from the top of Persian Road at 48th Street, allows pedestrians to safely walk down the hill to the staircase.
Over the tracks
The steel grate staircase comes down about 11 landings onto a bridge that extends over the Light Rail tracks, which leads to the station. Commuters can then take a second set of stairs down to the platform, which was built by NJ Transit.
"We built the extension above the light rail cables and over the tracks," said Turner. "It's really an engineering feat."
Originally, the design included a ground level walkway, where pedestrians would have to actually cross the tracks. However, due to the potential dangers Turner and the Town Council urged for the walkway to be suspended above the tracks.
The walkway is about 30 to 35 feet above the ground, and stretches just over the electrical cables, which run the Light Rail system.
According to Turner, the township engineers, NJ Transit and the Department of Community Affairs all conducted numerous inspections in order to make sure the walkway would be safe over the tracks.
"Roseland did a great job building these stairs at no cost to the taxpayers," said Turner. The staircase will be open to the public from 6:30 a.m. to midnight daily, and the town shuttle busses run every 15 to 20 minutes back and forth from the ferry terminal. The last shuttle leaves from the ferry terminal at 10:15 p.m.
Security on Pershing Road
In addition to the new access to mass transportation, Weehawken is also taking on new security measures at Pershing Road.
New state of the art camera equipment has been placed all along the road and the new staircase, which will help police better monitor the area, and freeing up man power to patrol more areas of the town.
According to Sergeant Pat Cannon, there are four cameras set up along Pershing Road; one at the top of the hill by 48th Street, one monitoring the staircase, and two others further down the middle of the road and at the bottom of the hill.
The cameras are Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) equipped, which can have officers zoom in even on the faces of the ferry drivers along the Hudson River. The footage is then monitored at police headquarters, who will dispatch officers where needed. Officers can also access these images in their patrol cars equipped with wireless computers.
"All officers can control these cameras once the system is totally up and running," said Cannon. "If [dispatch] see something going on it can be brought up on the laptops."
In the past, Pershing Road has had problems with vandalism to cars and illegal dumping. With this new camera system headquarters will be able to monitor the area 24 hours of the day. The image is also held for 30 days in case officers need to reference the footage. The cameras were financed with Homeland Security Funding through the County Law Enforcement Working Group. Comments on this story can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.