TRANSFORMATIVE CLIMATE COMMUNITIES
Plans for Safe and Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure Advance in Hudson County
Emmanuelle Morgen / Hudson County Complete Streets
In a historic moment on August 31st, 2023, Hudson County leadership, including County Executive Tom DeGise, Chief of Staff and uncontested County Executive candidate Craig Guy, Commissioners Aponte-Lipski, O’Dea, and Romano, and Hudson County Complete Streets (HCCS) representative Talya Schwartz, as well as numerous other organizations and officials, launched the Hudson County Vision Zero Action Plan. With this initiative, representatives formed a task force to examine current traffic safety conditions and make recommendations for improvement, including making the county more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.
The creation of the Vision Zero task force directly results from the collaborative efforts of the county’s transportation planners and elected representatives, HCCS, and the NJ Bike & Walk Coalition. HCCS hopes that through this coordination, our organization and partners will be able to advance safer and more sustainable design of our county’s roads.
On September 14th the Hudson County Board of Commissioners voted to apply for the federal Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant Program. The county seeks to redesign Route 139, an approximately 3-mile capped highway traversing residential neighborhoods in Jersey City. The grant, if awarded, would allow Hudson County to re-envision the roadway in a way that benefits local communities instead of the cut-through traffic that it currently prioritizes. This decision by the board is another notable example of progress resulting from the public-private partnership between Hudson County, municipal government, and nonprofit community groups.
These two government actions – the launch of the Hudson County Vision Zero Action Plan and the vote to apply for a Reconnecting Communities grant – both inclusive of our community-based organization, represent a positive shift towards greater public engagement in the local transportation decision-making process.
Additional recent examples of HCCS’s engagement with and participation in the process are as follows:
• 7/27/23 – HCCS board members Emmanuelle Morgen and Talya Schwartz spoke publicly at the Port Authority Board of Commissioners Meeting
• 8/1/23 – Bike JC, a member group of HCCS, hosted a bike repair station and JC Bike Bus information table at National Night Out in Arlington Park, Jersey City
• 8/8/23 – HCCS board members Johan Andrade and Emmanuelle Morgen attended a Port Authority Bus Terminal Stakeholders meeting and provided a follow-up letter with recommendations, including for a robust, secure bike parking system
• 8/11/23 – Bike JC Light Up Community Ride
• 8/12/23 – Bike North Bergen Community Ride to NYC Summer Streets
• 8/23/23 – The City of Hoboken Town Hall voted in favor of a resolution for the county to install a cycle path on the 14th Street Viaduct. HCCS and Bike Hoboken board members Chris Adair and Emmanuelle Morgen, along with two additional members of the community, attended the Hoboken City Council meeting to speak for a protected bike lane on the viaduct. The council voted in favor of the resolution. On Oct. 3, the Union City Board of Commissioners followed suit with a vote in favor of a protected cycle path on the Viaduct. We seek the same from Jersey City in the coming months.
• 8/27/23 – Bike Hoboken Community Ride
• 9/15/23 – HCCS and Bike JC board members, in cooperation with the Jersey City Department of Transportation, organized a Jersey City Park(ing) Day as part of a national movement to prioritize pedestrians over car storage and promote a new petition for a Bergen Avenue bike lane on the southwest side of Jersey City.
Hudson County Complete Streets’ achievements throughout the Transformative Climate Communities grant period include:
• Requested and received a commitment from Hudson County Chief of Staff Craig Guy to extend the bidirectional Bergen Avenue multi-use cycle path north to the Journal Square PATH station, a major transit hub
• Requested and received a commitment from NJ Transit’s Paul Wyckoff to support increased service on John F. Kennedy Boulevard if the County provides the dedicated bus lanes
• Organized the JC Bike Bus stats – 100+ kids, 35 volunteer marshals, 20 schools, 11 routes
• Requested and received Hoboken City Council’s vote on a resolution for a protected cycle path on the 14th Street Viaduct
• Emmanuelle Morgen was awarded the Street Equity Hero award by the Tri-State Transportation campaign at the TSTC 30th Anniversary gala on Sept. 27th
• Collaborated with County and local government on the application for a federal funding grant (Reconnecting Communities planning grant) to mitigate the divisive effects of a 2-mile high-speed capped highway within Jersey City
• Organized bike rides with elected representatives and local transportation planners to demonstrate the experiences and perspectives of people on bikes, scooters, and other personal mobility devices
• Advocated in favor of congestion pricing publicly and in private meetings with elected representatives
• Organized more than 25 community events, including group bike rides, free bike repair events, private bike tours, the Jersey City Ward Tour (the largest bike tour in New Jersey), and more
• Hired a creative professional video company to create a promotional video for Hudson County Complete Streets’ Mission Statement
Throughout the past five months, we have been highly grateful for the support of our mentors at Rutgers, particularly Leigh Ann Von Hagen, Gregory Woltman, and Jennifer Fogliano. We appreciate their assistance with grant administration challenges, encouraging us in our advocacy, and making excellent suggestions and connections. The Transformative Climate Communities grant has been instrumental in the growth of our young nonprofit, and we imagine it will continue to have a significant positive impact for months and years to come as we put our funding purchases to use!