State Director, Environment New Jersey
State Director, Environment New Jersey
Jersey City – The Turnpike Trap Coalition, a coalition of more than 20 community, neighborhood and environmental groups based in Jersey City and EmpowerNJ held a rally this afternoon in Mary Benson Park, in the shadow of the Turnpike Extension, against the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s plan, approved by Governor Murphy, to spend more than $4.7 billion to expand the Turnpike for eight miles between Newark and Jersey City, from Exits 14 and 14C of the Turnpike. The event was preceded by a mass eight mile bike ride along the curve of the Extension through Jersey City to visualize the impact of building an entirely new highway through the City, and the event included support from Jersey City Mayor Fulop, Jersey City Councilors and Hudson County Commissioners.
“Governor Murphy’s Turnpike expansion makes no sense and would be a disaster for Jersey City and the entire region. Despite its exorbitant $5 billion cost, it will make traffic congestion worse, not better, pollute our air, increase greenhouse gas emissions, prevent needed improvements to public transportation and unduly burden environmental communities that are close to the highway. This special interest boondoggle is a lose-lose-lose proposition in every respect,” said John Reichman, EmpowerNJ.
The expanded Turnpike will still dead-end at the Holland Tunnel access roads so traffic congestion won’t ease and all the additional vehicle traffic from the expanded highways will simply clog local Jersey City streets. NJTA has not even conducted a traffic study showing the impact on Jersey City streets despite already spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the project. The NJTA has refused all attempts by Jersey City officials or any group to have any substantive discussions about their plans.
“The Turnpike expansion is fiscally irresponsible, flies in the face of our climate goals, will bring more traffic to Jersey City, will increase air pollution, will take money away from needed infrastructure projects and won’t accomplish its purported purpose of easing traffic congestion. NJTA’s posture is my way or the highway. Gov. Murphy needs to re-examine his support of this project — this project will be a disaster for Jersey City residents,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.
There is tremendous and growing opposition to the project. The Jersey City Council unanimously passed the attached resolution opposing the Expansion. So did the Hoboken City Council. Mayor Fulop opposes the project as does a vast majority of Jersey City residents. Despite this opposition, Governor Murphy has given his support for the project last month without addressing, much less rebutting, any of the reasons cited above demonstrating that the project makes no sense.
“This project is bad for the climate, bad for our health, and bad for the safety of our city streets. Among environmental justice impacts, highways increase risks for asthma and cognition problems, with children and teenagers especially vulnerable. Follow the science. Build mass transit and for the economy of the future instead,” said Jimmy Lee, President, SafeStreetsJC.
“Our neighborhood is located between Exit 14C and the Holland Tunnel. Like most neighborhoods in Jersey City, we are considered an overburdened community under the New Jersey Environmental Justice Law. We oppose widening the Turnpike extension because the induced demand and ensuing bottleneck would worsen congestion and air pollution in our community, hurting our health and our quality of life,” said Eleana Little, former Harsimus Cove Association President.
“The Turnpike expansion plan is not the answer for Jersey City. It is the pinnacle of inefficiency.
You do not fix a bottleneck by widening the bottle, when you are left with the same neck. Satellite navigation software already diverts massive amounts of traffic off of the bridge, and the infrastructure downtown is ill equipped to handle an influx of more cars using local streets to circumvent the extension approach,” said Eric Hofmann, Village Neighborhood Association President.
“As a parent, I oppose the $4.7 billion plan to add lanes in order to expand the NJ Turnpike extension. This structure extends over the Mary Benson field and playground where the estimated 680 children that attend PS5 spend their recess every day. Our community has already had to deal with lead paint raining down onto the playground during a repair project to the extension in recent years. I am concerned that thIs project will bring back those dangerous conditions to the playground and surrounding areas. The children in urban areas have an increased exposure to pollutants and this plan will further impact their health and safety in a negative way. Furthermore the expansion does nothing for improving access to NYC. The funds should be spent on more effective transportation solutions,” said Catherine McElroy, PS5 PTA President.