The road not yet ahead
Proposed NJ Turnpike extension may ease traffic going to Holland Tunnel
by Ricardo Kaulessar
Reporter Staff Writer
Jun 07, 2009 | 1924 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE ROAD NOT YET AHEAD – The 12th Street Viaduct in Jersey City, which leads into the Holland Tunnel for cars going into Manhattan, could see a companion road in a few years if the N.J. Turnpike builds a turnpike separator.
THE ROAD NOT YET AHEAD – The 12th Street Viaduct in Jersey City, which leads into the Holland Tunnel for cars going into Manhattan, could see a companion road in a few years if the N.J. Turnpike builds a turnpike separator.
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Ever driven to the Holland Tunnel only to get caught in a traffic backup?

If the answer is no, is that because your alternate route to the tunnel went through downtown Jersey City residential streets?

For years, residents and politicians have studied how to prevent the onslaught of cars from morning and afternoon rush hour speeding through neighborhoods, in order to cut down on potential accidents and traffic jams.

Downtown City Councilman Steven Fulop has tried to heed the complaints of his constituents on mitigating the increase of vehicles detouring past their homes.

He has also considered and pushed for various initiatives to take automobiles off those one-way streets.

One of the most significant ones he would like to see is a proposed N.J. Turnpike extension or traffic separator down 11th Street in downtown Jersey City linking to the ramp on Jersey Avenue to Newport and the waterfront. This separator would take traffic off the road going to the Holland Tunnel to ease congestion.

“Hopefully, we will have a report back from the Turnpike this summer,” Fulop said. “In five years, we think they will build something that will benefit the residents.”

A Turnpike Authority spokesperson said last week he would look into any current reports on the separator, but did not return a call before press time.

But Fulop hopes that the Turnpike would consider moving the separator from the Hamilton Park area. The ramp on Jersey Avenue takes drivers off the 12th Street Viaduct to go to the Newport Mall and Sixth Street. Fulop hopes for an exit point further north to ensure that no traffic goes through that area.

A separate connection

The separator is one of many ideas that have been recommended to deal with the traffic going to and from the Holland Tunnel through local streets. Other ideas include changing the direction of the one-way roads every few blocks, stop signs at every intersection and speed bumps and strips.

The proposed Turnpike extension, known unofficially as Exit 14D, would cut down on delays that come from the daily amount of vehicles that transverse the Turnpike to the Holland Tunnel.

According to Turnpike Authority counts of traffic traveling that route daily to New York during rush hour in 2008, there were 20,300 cars Manhattan bound and 14,700 New Jersey bound (Jersey City waterfront and other local destinations). Also, the Turnpike Authority found in the same traffic counts that 3,400 Manhattan bound cars get off at the 14C – Montgomery Street exit to make a nearly one-mile trip through Downtown as a “back door” entry to the Holland Tunnel. And 13,600 cars exit at Montgomery Street to go to the waterfront and other nearby locales.

Addressing the increasing traffic into New York and to the downtown Jersey City waterfront is not a new development. Governor Thomas Kean in the 1980’s announced a transportation plan for more bus, car and rail options to unclog traffic going to the waterfront and to Manhattan.

The N.J. Turnpike Authority acquired rights in the 1980’s to undeveloped land over which the separator will be built.

The separator is also mentioned several times in the new Circulation Element of the city’s Master Plan.

Seeing the path of certain intentions

Interested in seeing the separator become a reality is Jamie LeFrak, one of the principals of the Newport Associates Development Company, the builders of Newport and other residential housing in downtown Jersey City:
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“But once that happens, it’s like that old adage, if you build it, they will come.” – Tom Gibbons
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“From our perspective as the largest owner of homes in Hamilton Park (the Lincoln and Roosevelt apartment buildings), the separator would reduce the number of cars which use the Hamilton Park neighborhood as a back door to the Holland Tunnel and the Waterfront, thus reducing traffic impacts in a residential neighborhood which was never designed to handle the number of dangerous cars which pass through.”

Having mixed reactions about the Turnpike separator is Tom Gibbons, a Hamilton Park-area resident.

“I think for the short term it will alleviate the traffic because people going downtown will be able to get there quicker,” Gibbons said. “But once that happens, it’s like that old adage, if you build it, they will come.”

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonrreporter.com.

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