Both Hoboken and Jersey City officials have recently spoken out against a $4.7 billion project to widen the New Jersey Turnpike between exits 14A and 14C in Jersey City, an area that feeds into the Holland Tunnel. Governor Phil Murphy has called for the updates to help repair damage, while opponents say this construction will cause pollution, traffic congestion, and further problems. Despite vocal public opposition to this project, Governor Murphy recently commented that he’s still in favor of the plan. Read on for what we know about the public opposition to the widening of the New Jersey Turnpike.
The Vocal Opposition
Governor Phil Murphy has called for a $4.7 billion project to expand the NJ Turnpike between exits 14A and 14C. This project has a goal of lowering traffic congestion by creating more space as well as repairing years of damage. While the project is aiming to be beneficial to those living in Hudson County and commuting via the Holland Tunnel, many are speaking out in fear that it will have the opposite impact.
Per Patch, multiple Hoboken officials came forward at the Hoboken City Council meeting on August 10th to oppose this widening project.
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Wednesday’s resolution, which was sponsored by Councilmembers Ramos Jr., Jabbour, and Quintero, is titled: “Resolution opposing the expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike extension in Jersey City and supporting its repair and funding public transportation, bikeways, walkways, and safe street projects.”
Among many points, the resolution points to the lack of effectiveness that other highway widening projects have previously had, a lack of transparency on behalf of the NJTA as to the cost/benefit analysis of this project, concerns relating to Greenhouse Gas emissions, and a desire to see this major funding get funneled into other transportation projects.
The measure passed in an 8-0 vote, with one Councilmember being absent.
“Be it further resolved that the Council of the City of Hoboken urges Governor Murphy to direct NJTA to halt any further work on the Turnpike Expansion and to immediately undertake a comprehensive climate and economic analysis of the best ways to improve transportation in Jersey City,” the resolution reads.
Via a press release sent on August 11th, Jersey City Councilmembers are also vocally opposing this plan.
“Council President Joyce Watterman, Councilmember-At-Large Daniel Rivera, Councilmember Mira Prinz-Arey of Ward B, Richard Boggiano of Ward C, Councilmember Yousef Saleh of Ward D, Councilmember James Solomon of Ward E, and Councilmemeber Frank E Gilmore of Ward F are co-sponsoring a resolution rejecting the plan,” the press release reads. Mayor Fulop has also publicly opposed this project.
“At this time, the expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike does not appear favorable to the residents of Jersey City,” said City Council President Joyce Watterman. “It is undeniable that one of the many hardships Jersey City residents face is the amount of vehicle traffic that comes through our city on a daily basis. Our roads are simply too congested to accommodate an increase in traffic. I understand that while this expansion is concentrated on the Turnpike, I am convinced that our residents will bear the brunt and disruption this expansion can cause, therefore I am against the Turnpike expansion.”
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“While I understand that infrastructure upgrades along the turnpike and bridges are very necessary, the lane expansion in Jersey City is a short-sided solution to try and fix traffic issues,” added Mira-Prinz Arey, Ward B Councilmember.
Fund for a Better Waterfront, a Hoboken-based non-profit, is also speaking out against the Turnpike expansion. “The outcome if this toxic proposal were to move forward can only be more of the same: increased asthma rates for the many children that live and attend school adjacent to the Turnpike, cut-through traffic that congests and endangers local streets, and acceleration of an already fast-burning climate change fire,” the website reads.
Many other Environmental Groups also oppose the Turnpike widening, per TapInto. These groups include: BlueWaveNJ; Clean Water Action NJ; Delaware Riverkeeper Network; Don’t Gas the Meadowlands Coalition; Environment New Jersey; Food & Water Watch; and the New Jersey Sierra Club.
Governor Murphy’s Response
In the wake of this controversy, Governor Murphy has responded by saying he still believes repairs to the Turnpike are necessary — and he remains in support of the project.
Per NJ.com, Governor Murphy appeared on News 12 on Monday to speak out in favor of the plan, citing it as “quite ambitious” but “needed.” He also mentioned that this is where the world is naturally heading.
“There’s not one magic wand here in terms of where the future will take us,” Governor Murphy stated. “But the combination of electric vehicles, green buses, railcars, all of which are working safely and on time, that makes you a lot cleaner, better environmental New Jersey.”
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