Washington Street Curb Bumpouts: What Are They + Why Are They Here?

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By now you have either heard, felt, cursed at, or maybe even tried to completely ignore the seemingly never-ending construction happening on Washington Street. The $17 million Washington Street Project first began in early summer 2017 and is expected to continue on through the spring of 2018 {though recently it has been temporarily halted and will begin again shortly}. Yes, it’s a headache, but the project encompasses resurfacing and repaving of the street, traffic signal improvements, watermain replacements, lighting, the building of a microgrid, ADA compliant curb ramps, and most recently — curb extensions {aka – bumpouts}.

Bumpouts, {not to be confused with the Snooki-inspired hair poof enhancer you know and loved circa 2010, or the awesome pushup bra by On Gossamer} aren’t exactly easy to miss. Intended to improve pedestrian safety and visibility while being ADA compliant, the extended curb corner bumpout installation process will continue for many more months, leaving some residents embracing the new additions around town, while others… well, not so much. But, regardless of personal opinion, they’re hereee, so we figured we’d introduce them to, and explore what they are, why they’re here, and what you need to know about them.

Pros

As the Washington Street Project’s website states, a motivation for the project was based on information regarding car accidents and crashes from 2010-2013. According to the data, 17 collisions between vehicles and pedestrians occurred on Washington Street, with a significant amount of them occurring when the vehicle was making a turn.

It is thought that curb bumpouts at intersections will lead to improved visibility of pedestrians crossing at designated crosswalks, and will also shorten the crossing distance as a whole. {This is also likely to help the elderly, those with strollers or young children, and others who might take a bit longer crossing the street.} Bumpouts also force drivers to slow down a bit — and when it comes to prevent collisions, that’s a good thing.

Cons

As with anything new, there is also the downside, the inconvenience, and the frustration, and some residents are not pleased {or maybe are just curbing their enthusiasm – sorry, had to}. One argument against the addition of bumpouts cited in a recent op/ed on NJ.com is that they make turning off Washington St. on to already narrow side streets even more difficult {especially larger vehicles like delivery trucks – who already have a hard time around town, fire trucks, etc.}.

Congestion is another common concern, as are the potential implications for cyclist safety.

According to resident comments in another recent NJ.com article, others are concerned about things like what this might mean during snow-plow season {no, please no snow talk, yet}, the high cost of the project largely funded by taxpayer dollars, and argue that in large part, speed limit enforcement and/or reduction could improve safety just as much.

Another concern among residents is the overall safety and inconveniences posed by the ongoing project. On September 26th, the contractor, Underground Utilities Corporation, knocked over a utility pole, which struck a pedestrian standing nearby. Luckily, there were no major injuries reported, but as a result, the project was suspended temporarily for a safety review, though work is expected to begin again shortly.

 

How do you feel about the new curb bumpouts, or The Washington Street Project in general? Let us know in the comments!

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Erin is a freelance writer and lives in Hoboken with her husband and daughter. A proud Jersey Girl, she grew up in Central New Jersey but always had a love for Hudson County, with her father having grown up in Jersey City, and her grandfather proudly worked at Maxwell House for decades. Her words have been featured across many outlets including BRIDES, Allure, TeenVogue, The Today Show, Byrdie, and more. Erin also owns local Etsy shop GrandeGifts, and in her spare time can be found binging on all things Bravo.


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