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NJTPA's Harrison Streets Project Needs Your Input & Participation

Oct 08, 2023
Proposed Street Graphic Harrison NJ by NJTPA

 In the bustling town of Harrison, New Jersey, street planning and transportation challenges are not a new phenomenon. With a unique layout that places a traffic light on almost every corner, navigating Harrison presents its own set of intricacies especially during the morning and evening rush hour not to mention during Red Bulls Arena games and events.

The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) has embarked on a project it has called “Harrison Streets For All” and is asking for input from Harrison residents and business owners via an online survey and with live scheduled events on the streets of Harrison. A full schedule is below.  The scheduled times are not exactly convenient for the hard working residents of Harrison NJ.

NJTPA Committed to Improving Transportation

NJTPA, as stated on their official website, is deeply committed to improving transportation infrastructures across North Jersey. They aim to foster economic growth, enhance safety, and ensure that the region's diverse communities are well-connected. Their projects often involve introducing sustainable transportation methods, such as bike lanes, to promote eco-friendly travel alternatives. But in places like Harrison, where space is already at a premium, the introduction of such lanes might be more problematic than progressive.

Narrow Streets and Lack of Parking

Bike lanes, in general, aim to promote a more sustainable mode of transport, offering a safe path for cyclists, reducing traffic congestion, and lowering carbon emissions. However, in the context of Harrison's narrow streets, the installation of bike lanes would require the removal of already scarce parking spots. This would make an already lack of parking problem worse and has implications for public safety.

Public Safety v. Critical Lack of Parking Crisis

If streets become even more congested due to fewer parking spaces, emergency response times could be impacted. Narrow streets and lack of parking already pose challenges for emergency vehicles per Harold Stahl; the Town of Harrison’s Public Safety Director. The act of removing parking to make way for bike lanes would be catastrophic for residents. Residents who work late are faced with no parking spots on the street and take to parking on yellow zones leading to concerns about safety, especially during late hours. The Harrison Police officers used to employ discretion allowing the yellow zone late-night parking so long as the vehicles were moved by 8 a.m. but the Harrison Police Chief David Strumolo recently announced that the Harrison Public Safety Director had pointed out that parking in yellow zones posed a safety concern because Fire Engines may be impeded by cars parking in yellow zones.

Sustainability & Promoting Health

It's a delicate balance to strike. While the intent behind introducing bike lanes aligns with broader goals of sustainability and promoting healthier modes of transport, the unique circumstances of Harrison require careful consideration. A one-size-fits-all approach may not be effective in Harrison. Innovative solutions that account for the town's layout, the needs of its residents, and the overarching goals of sustainability are essential.

Redevelopment Promises Made But Not Fulfilled

When the Harrison Redevelopment Agency was formed by the Town of Harrison over twenty years ago, promises were made to Harrison residents to build an interchange onto Route 280 connecting Cape May Street directly to Route 280 to alleviate traffic in town.  Residents were also promised a new Jackson Street Bridge to improve traffic flow in and out of Harrison to the neighboring City of Newark.  In addition, residents were promised that the “Manhattan Transfer Station” on the Boonton train line now operated by NJ Transit that used to exist on South Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. where Bank of America is now would be re-built and reopened.  Last but not least, Green Spaces in the form of Parks and a multi-level Community Center were to be built for the benefit of all Harrison residents next to the Path Station in the former PSE&G gas works plant.  As outlined in an article entitled Harrison Missing 4 of 5 Redevelopment Promises on Your Harrison, only one, a New Harrison Path Station, was fulfilled. The Green Space, a Park and Community Center, is at risk from an EPA plan to dewater and encapsulate in cement dioxin-laden sludge from the Passaic River in the former PSE&G gas works plant. You can read more about the plan in the article Mayor Fife Legacy: Green Space Unfilled Promises & EPA Toxic Sludge.

Anselmo Millan Underground Parking Garage

In 2018, then-Councilman Anselmo Millan proposed the building of an underground parking garage at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Park in the center of town on Harrison Avenue between South Frank E. Rodgers Blvd and South 5th Street. Harrison’s Mayor James Fife did not move forward with the proposed project which would have alleviated the current lack of parking in the Town of Harrison. The Anselmo Millan Underground Parking Garage is an ideal project for the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) to fund and build as a part of its mission of improving traffic infrastructure. NJTPA could also spearhead the Route 280/Cape Mayor Interchange, a new Jackson Street Bridge, and Manhattan Transfer Station in Harrison NJ.

NJTPA Seeks Your Input

The NJTPA is seeking the public’s input through an online Survey and three Pop-Up Booth Chat events.  The survey can be accessed through the link above.  The Pop Up Booth Chat events are scheduled as follows: 

  • Tuesday, October 10, 2023, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Hamilton Street and North 5th
  • Thursday, October 12, 2023, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the corner of Harrison Avenue & Hiram Place
  • Tuesday, October 24, 2023, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Path Station Plaza on South Frank E. Rodgers Blvd.

There will also be a Walkability Workshop on Thursday, October 26, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. There was no location indicated on NJTPA’s Harrison-specific website. It is noted that the Town of Harrison is primarily a working-class community with residents leaving early in the morning and coming home late at night after 6 p.m.  None of the Public outreach sessions are after 6 p.m. and/or on a weekend.

In conclusion, as the Town of Harrison and the NJTPA grapple with these transportation challenges, collaboration, community input, and innovative thinking will be key. Only by acknowledging the unique constraints and needs of the town can effective and inclusive transportation solutions be realized. Rather than bike lanes, NJTPA should consider building the Anselmo Millan Underground Parking Garage which would provide much-needed parking in the northern part of Harrison and improve the quality of life of residents and improve public safety by alleviating the necessity of parking in yellow zones overnight and on weekends.

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