HAMILTON PARK NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
334 Eighth Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Position of the Hamilton Park Neighborhood Association on Bergen Arches Best Uses Study, October 23, 2002
Mr. Dave Behrend
Manager of Public Affairs
One Newark Center, 17th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
The results of the Bergen Arches Study are now available, and have caused the Hamilton Park Neighborhood quite a bit of concern. The Study designated 3 possibilities of "Best Uses" of the Arches for transportation. We are encouraged that the light rail option ranked in one of these three options, but are concerned that it was not ranked the highest. We are further concerned about how the ranking was done, as well as what the next phase of development will be.
At the original task force meetings there were five factors to be weighted in ranking possible uses of the Arches. They were 1)Accessibility, 2) Mobility, 3) Feasibility, 4)Environmental Consideration and 5) Stakeholder Interest . It was never explained that even though there were 5 criteria, that these 5 criteria were not given equal weight in terms of ranking.. The factors were weighted so that stakeholder interest, what might be called community support, had a maximum value of 50 points, and environmental criteria had 100.These factors were weighted in total number of points that they could achieve much lower than the mobility (200 points), and accessibility (200) points. This has meant that the process of moving people from the NJ Turnpike to jobs on the waterfront has been given much more weight than the effects it will have on the existing residents. Our "stakeholder interest" facet has been given much less importance than the movement of the suburbanites to the waterfront. Further, 10 of our 50 "stakeholder' points are from the business community, probably waterfront developers, who probably don't live here, and won't be effected by our pollution problems. Further, it does not seem to weigh in our elected officials opinions, who we would like to believe would represent our concerns about this project.
Secondly, in the analysis of the three "Best Uses" two of them harm our Jersey City neighborhoods. Whether you are speaking about the residents of Hamilton Park, or the Holland Gardens, or even Newport, the air quality and the traffic situations are already intolerable in all of Downtown. A highway use, whether designed for cars, or busses would exacerbate an already bad condition.
The air quality monitors around the Holland Tunnel already have measured unacceptable levels of carbon monoxide, particulates, and ozone. Any highway will increase the amounts of each of these pollutants. No matter how many experts claim that the new cars brought in will not increase pollution it is simply against common sense. More cars will come, more waterfront buildings will be designed for moving people in cars, and more pollution will result. Any claims that this will not happen are ludicrous. The people in our neighborhoods already have an abnormally high amount of pulmonary problems. They cannot tolerate any more environmental air pollution.
A second area of concern with the highway proposal is the amount of traffic that will be generated. Simply the volume of traffic that will be coming from these approaches cannot be tolerated on the existing street grid. Thinking that all the traffic that will be coming off this highway could be absorbed on Washington Boulevard is not realistic. Washington Blvd. was not designed to be a highway. It is often at a standstill now without the highway. What will end up happening is that vehicles will exit the "channeled" access to the waterfront, and start to use the existing road grid to get to the waterfront. They can and will exit as soon as they are able to turn on local streets whenever traffic is backed up. Busses currently come down Coles and Monmouth Streets to avoid blockages on the turnpike. How many more busses, or cars would be added to our already over taxed street grid?
The use of the Arches as a highway, whether for busses, or cars is not feasible for environmental reasons. It is also short sighted in terms of long term planning. For how long will a two lane highway be big enough. When will it have to be widened to meet an even bigger demand. What will happen then? Will we start knocking down buildings to widen the road? A rail line can be expanded to meet future needs without killing the existing population. The line is already being built. We could coordinate this new spur with the existing and proposed system. This coordination would bring vision into our transportation planning system Roads are not forward thinking solutions. The Bergen Arches Study was done because of new "people" trips that they anticipate will develop in the future. People trips do not have to be roadway trips? Additional people can be moved in non polluting trains.
We petition you for your support in the use of the Bergen Arches only as a light rail line. This really is the only viable long term option to our transportation needs. When the future decisions are made we would hope that local concerns from the HPNA, the Downtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, and the other citizen groups who see rail as the only possible uses of the Arches are what determines the eventual use of the Arches.