The City of Hoboken has now revealed that the Washington Street Redesign—initially scheduled for completion in July of 2018, then slated for September 2018, then pushed back again to February 2019—will now be extended through May 2019.
“The Washington Street Project, including the installation of pedestrian countdown timers, curb extensions, electrical work, and more is scheduled to continue over the coming months. The project is 95% complete on Washington Street between Observer Highway and 11th Street,” says the City, via a press statement.
“Paving of Washington Street between 11th and 15th Street will resume in the spring. Paving is not possible during the winter months due to the cold weather.
The contractor for the project, Underground Utilities Corporation, anticipates completion for the project this spring. The City continues to work with the contractor to expedite the project’s progress.”
This revelation about the sliding completion date came about yesterday, following a back-and-forth with City of Hoboken personnel.
Can you remind us when the May 24 deadline was announced?
Thanks so much.
— hMAG (@hMAG) January 14, 2019
According to Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, the contractor had made it clear to the City Council that the project would carry on through May. That information, however, was never officially released by the City until today.
“Currently, crews are performing work related to the project at the intersection of Washington Street and 11th Street and Washington Street and 13th Street, including the installation of new traffic signals, rain gardens, ADA compliant sidewalks and curb extensions as weather conditions permit. The final intersection improvements have been completed at 12th Street, 14th Street, which included the installation of ADA ramps,” says the City.
“All of the water infrastructure upgrades have been completed for the project, including replacement of the 100 year old water mains and targeted service lines. Future updates for the project will be sent out through the City’s Nixle communication service on a weekly basis.”
The city’s main thoroughfare, Washington Street was named as the best downtown in North Jersey, as recently as 2014. However, a lapse in maintenance while debating the Hoboken Washington Street Redesign left the street in desperate shape.
“It wasn’t coordinated,” said Hoboken restaurateur Eugene Flinn, back in August 2018. “It’s taken way too long, cost more money and there have been hidden problems along the way. Meanwhile, the City underestimated the effect this project would have on small business.”
While the street is currently paved through 11th Street, corrective work continues on lower portions that were thought to have been completed.
With this mechanical piece of equipment workers are breaking up the corner of 8th and Washington streets in Hoboken, NJ, for the second time in a week and for the fourth or fifth time in the last couple of months. It must by now be the most expensive corner in the world. pic.twitter.com/KRmDrv1OFN
— Hugo Kijne (@HugoKijne) January 14, 2019
According to the City, the contractor poured sidewalk last week in the instance above, but due to the extreme cold it did not cure properly. In this case, the improper cure is the responsibility of the contractor.
However, the looming question remains as to who will be paying for the extended work. Per the contract, liquidated damages will be assessed from the contracted completion date until the actual completion date to cover the additional expenses incurred by the city—to the tune of $5,000 for each day after the contracted completion date (September 21, 2018). In a conversation with Hoboken Communications Manager Vijay Chaudhuri, the City will hold forth to that contractual agreement.
Dave Carney owns The Madison Bar & Grill, on the corner of 14th & Washington—in a location that has still yet to be repaired. The redesign project, not the mention the years of neglect preceding it, have had a significant impact on his business.
“Hoboken is implementing lots of what NYC does,” says Carney, who grew up in Hoboken. “The problem with this is NYC’s population swells during the day so businesses can take advantage of that Hoboken is still a bedroom community—8 million people versus 60k at full capacity. I’d like to know what it dips to during a work day.”
Other factors have combined to turn the screw on businesses like Carney’s, and Hoboken’s once-thriving hospitality industry has faced challenge after challenge.
“Simultaneous with this construction they raise parking prices and deal with water main breaks—the only news Hoboken has going on, all negative,” says Carney. “My business is flat 2017-2018—that’s not good considering everything else does not wait to catch up: rent , insurance, taxes, minimum wage, etc.”
Flow is everything for a business like Carney’s—water flow, traffic flow, and foot traffic flow. The tourniquet on Hoboken’s main artery is proving to be debilitating to some businesses, and outright fatal to others.
Says Carney, “Don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”