But the project is noisy, dusty, and frustrating for residents and visitors. Check out Max Ryazansky’s images to get a true picture of the chaos this has been created on Hoboken’s main drag.
Construction or Destruction?
Michael Landi, co-owner of Acai Ya Later at 203 Washington says that in summer customers didn’t want to sit outside because of the jack hammering. He has noticed a 50 percent drop in revenue since the construction work traveled up Washington Street to his area off the corner of Second Street. He specializes in smoothie bowls, and Indian-summer weather should have been great for business. “Business was booming when construction was on First Street over the summer,” he says, grimly surveying the empty tables. “It doesn't look like they will be finished anytime soon.”
Construction, which has been underway since February, has made its way up Washington from Observer Highway and will continue up to 15th Street.
Vincenzo Bove owns the Koro Koro Rice Bowl Café at 201 Washington. “Obviously it’s affecting us, the traffic, the parking,” he says. “However, this is necessary, and at the end it’s going to look much better. You have to sacrifice to make it work for the betterment of the community. Of course we want it to be faster, but it is what it is.”
Washington Street storefronts serve as the loading zones for incoming deliveries. Construction has been an inconvenience for delivery drivers who bring goods to these local businesses.
Nancy Guajardo, manager of The Brass Rail at 135 Washington, says that their takeout delivery drivers have had trouble maneuvering around the construction. She says she was blindsided the day that construction started outside the restaurant.
Summer was particularly bad for the Brass Rail
“I came in one day, and I was like, “Oh OK, half of the sidewalk is missing,” she says. “We weren’t even warned. We pay for a permit to have the patio because that’s where we make our money. No one can sit outside if we have no sidewalk. Of course it was gorgeous that day.” Guajardo says that they complained, and a temporary sidewalk was built to accommodate them, but the trouble wasn’t over yet.
After the work started outside the restaurant, the basement flooded. “That was the cherry on top of the whole situation,” says Guajardo, who went back to city hall, and a few days later the problem was fixed, when they located the underground leak on the corner of Second Street. “Luckily we had no major damage, but we lost a lot of business.” Guajardo sees it as a citywide problem and suspects that people will look to other towns for fun and dining. “We want to welcome people in,” she says, “but we are keeping people out because who wants to drive in Hoboken?”
You Can’t Get There From Here
Parking, which was already limited, is shut down along the active construction area. Bus routes have been altered to avoid the work as well. When it comes to pedestrians, for the most part, Hoboken residents are city folks who are used to navigating construction. Though several people grimace at the disruption, many see the necessity.
“This is better than having a water main break,” says Felix Ayala, who works in the area at Giannone Wine & Liquor Co, which is not on Washington Street. “Preventative measures are a lot better than reacting after the damage is done. I would rather this than someone losing a life,” he says, recalling the sinkhole and water main break last spring. “They’re doing the right thing.”
However, the work can also be a danger to pedestrians. A few months ago, a woman who was pushing a baby stroller across Washington and Fourth Street was struck by a falling traffic light. Her injuries were described as minor, and the baby was not harmed.
The rough terrain also affects the elderly or physically disabled people, but once complete, Washington Street will include ADA-approved handicap curb ramps at every intersection.
“When they’re done it will all be worth it,” Bove says. But, for some, the sounds of construction machinery pounding the pavement drown out that sentiment.—07030