Public Hearing in Union City to Help Address Concerns of Affected Municipalities, Businesses & Commuters
(UNION CITY) — Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) and Assembly Transportation Committee member Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. (D-Hudson) issued a multimedia package Tuesday in which they discuss their concerns over a plan by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to close the northbound lanes of the Pulaski Skyway for repairs for two years, starting in February 2014.
The multimedia package consists of a video of Wisniewski, the chair of the transportation panel, and Ramos discussing their concerns with the proposed DOT plan and a transcript and audio of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments from Wisniewski and Ramos is appended below:
Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee Chair:
“The Pulaski Skyway is an elevated roadway over the Passaic River and the Hackensack River and serves as a vital artery for commuters to and from Manhattan and from Hudson County and Essex County in New Jersey.
“Built in the 30s, it’s a roadway that has largely not had any major structural repairs done to it for it’s entire life, so it really needs to have some drastic steps taken to improve its safety and improve the structure. The concern that the committee has, and that many members of the Legislature have, is that the current Department of Transportation plans call for the complete closure of the roadway in one direction.”
Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. (D-Hudson), Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee Member:
“The concern there is mostly the educational process that hasn’t taken place in the public thus far. I think that needs to take place — what the alternate options are to go forward.
“I think we haven’t been communicated those issues at this time, and I think we really want to vet that out a little bit further. Maybe there is an alternate plan out there that they haven’t thought of yet, and hopefully, that’s the goal of this hearing.”
“This is a roadway that serves as a vital link for people going to and from work; it’s a vital link for business people going to and from appointments during the day. All of that traffic is not going to disappear, it’s going to go on local roads, it’s going to create traffic problems elsewhere.
“We need to understand what steps the Department of Transportation is taking to make sure that those problems are minimized. We want to understand the cost benefit analysis. The department says they may save up to $100 million in closing the roadway in this fashion.
“My concern is that the cost on businesses and families may exceed that amount and so there may actually not be any real saving.”
“When Hurricane Sandy came, and New Jersey Transit was out for a couple of weeks; when the PATH station in Hoboken was out for a couple of months, we really saw the impact that that had on businesses in Hoboken and Jersey City — the negative impact it had on businesses in Hoboken and Jersey City — because it altered travel patterns.
“We don’t want to see that happen, right now, with the negative impact on those businesses, on those commuters, going to and from Hudson County and other parts of our state.”
First opened to vehicle traffic in 1932, the Pulaski Skyway is listed on the New Jersey and national registries of historic places. The 81-year old, 3.5-mile elevated roadway has 108 spans, including two 550-foot spans over the Hackensack and Passaic rivers and carries more than 67,000 cars daily.