Hoboken’s Main Drag Set for Ambitious Complete Streets Overhaul

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer has unveiled a plan to transform Washington Street, the Square Mile City’s main drag, with a two-way protected bike lane, super-sized curb extensions, and bus bulbs. The plan also includes expanded loading zones, new seating, bike racks, and bioswales for stormwater runoff.

Washington Street in Hoboken will feature a protected bike lane and expanded pedestrian space under a plan released this week. Image: The RBA Group
Washington Street in Hoboken will feature a protected bike lane, bus bulbs, and expanded pedestrian space under a plan released this week. Image: The RBA Group

The final design concept [PDF] was released at a meeting Tuesday night, capping nearly a year of public meetings and planning by the city and consultant The RBA Group.

Combined with other projects underway, a protected bikeway along the Washington Street commercial strip from the PATH station to the city’s northern edge could transform cycling in Hoboken. At its southern end, the Washington Street plan connects to Observer Highway, a four-lane street soon to receive a road diet and half-mile two-way protected bike lane [PDF]. Planning for that project dates to 2010, and the city says contracts for construction will go out to bid soon.

At the intersection of Washington and Observer Highway, the two-way bike paths will meet at a “T” intersection featuring dedicated space for cyclists to queue up before turning onto Washington. The path continues up the east side of Washington with a concrete buffer between cyclists and parked cars until 8th Street.

The remaining seven blocks, between 8th and 15th Streets, will have a protected bike lane only for northbound traffic, however, while southbound cyclists would use shared lane markings. The change was made in part to maximize on-street parking. South of 8th Street, Washington has parallel parking. The design north of 8th creates more space for angled back-in parking.

Today, there are 555 parking spots on Washington Street; the consultant estimates the redesign will result in a net loss of 2 or 3 percent of those spaces. The street will also feature larger loading zones, which the city is adding to cut down on double parking. Changes to signal timing are expected to boost average motorist speeds from 6-8 mph to 8-12 mph.

The proposed design for the intersection of Washington Street and Observer Highway, where two bi-directional protected bikeways would meet. Image: The RBA Group

The Washington Street redesign also features bus stops along the protected bike path, including some where the bus shelter is located in the parking lane between the bike lane and moving lanes.

Curb extensions will cut crossing distances by nearly half, from 50 feet to 26 feet, at intersections. The added sidewalk space will be used for new seating, bike racks, and bike-share stations.

The entire project is estimated to cost $14 million. Final design and additional pre-construction work, such as coordinating with utilities, is expected to take up to a year. The city will be applying to New Jersey DOT and the federal TIGER program to help fund construction, which is expected to take an additional 12 months.

The project will rely in part on bonds issued by the city, which must be approved by the City Council. “I look forward to working with the City Council,” said Zimmer in a statement, “and hope they will fully support this important project so it can be completed as quickly as possible.”