Jersey City is a hot spot to live right now. With housing prices booming in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Jersey City is this little town on the other side of the Hudson that has extreme close proximity to Manhattan, at about half the price as Williamsburg. Some say that Jersey City is on route to become the next Brooklyn too. Those who live there believe it’s already the place to be.
As Jersey City continues to grow in size (thousands of new residential units hitting the market over the next few years, starting now), the current residents worry about the city’s infrastructure–mainly the PATH system. If you’re a commuter from Jersey City and going into Manhattan every day, you’re already watching multiple trains go by on the platform before there’s any sign of space for you to fit onto a PATH car. The same on your trip back to Jersey City. This is already an issue. What’s going to happen when a few thousand more people are trying to get on that same PATH train? I can assure you that that won't start driving in or taking an Uber. Sure, maybe some of them will take the ferry…but the biggest problem with the ferry is the expense. At $8 each way, an Uber ride doesn't look too bad.
With the PATH system operating at near maximum capacity during commuter hours (240,000 people per work day), the future of PATH travel from Jersey City to NYC is not looking very good. That's not even taking into consideration the the unreliability of the train system, and the fact that the tunnels need repairs. If I were a Hoboken resident, I'd be concerned with this as well.
So, what can be done? There’s a potential solution that could be game changing, revolutionary and legen–wait for it–dary. Let’s quickly travel up the Hudson River about 80 miles to Poughkeepsie where you’ll find a bridge unlike any other in the world. It’s the world’s tallest (212 feet over the river) and longest (1.28 miles long) pedestrian walking bridge–connecting two sides of the Hudson River. The bridge’s original use was for railroad and this new design was absolutely brilliant.
Although, there’s no current foundation for a bridge like Poughkeepsie's, this idea is far from far-fetched. With the way our country is moving towards a green, eco-friendly, Tesla-esque future, a walking bridge could be a solution to more than just a Jersey City commuter nightmare. Yes, a walking bridge would provide a Brooklyn Bridge-like experience from the Jersey side, but it would also symbolize a movement that is part of the biggest topic in the world right now–climate change. Even the Pope is concerned about it! Given the opportunity to walk, run or ride a bike to work every day from NJ... people would jump all over it. Would it be a motivating factor for people to walk or ride a bike to work? Absolutely!
To better understand the real problems that we're facing with commuting to NYC from NJ, read through the following list:
1) The PATH trains are already overly crowded (240,000 commuters per day and increasing)
2) More residents are coming--tens of thousands of new apartments are being constructed in downtown Jersey City and Journal Square
3) The state of NJ brilliantly decided to extend the World Trade Center PATH train line to Newark Liberty International Airport to give a potential 35 million people annually (and their luggage) access to the PATH commuter rail--crowding the PATH train even more. Plus, the new extension is going to cost $1.5 billion--don't want to get started on that though.
4) The PATH train infrastructure needs repairs (from Sandy and old age--over 100 years old), but the state cannot shut thePATH train down for long periods of time. The older the train line gets, the more unsafe it is for travelers.
5) In the event of any catastrophic event (9/11, blackout, hurricane, etc), there needs to be a safe evacuation route for people to leave Manhattan. Adding a pedestrian bridge that does not rely on power and does not sit under water, could be a powerful tool used in an event of that nature.
Now, let’s just make a list of some of the benefits that could come out of a walking bridge connecting Jersey City to lower Manhattan:
1) Relieve commuter nightmare from the PATH and bus system
2) Symbolize an environmentally friendly movement
3) Potential revenue for Jersey City and NYC from solar/wind/hydro energy, advertising sales, etc
4) Would cut down on the driving traffic and automobile pollution
5) Would increase property values in Jersey City
6) Would make commuting into NYC more enjoyable, therefore more attractive
7) If this happened under Steve Fulop’s mayorship, it would elevate Fulop’s status to kingship
It’s time for Jersey City, NYC, New Jersey and New York state to start thinking about the current & worsening commuting problem, and take action. Even if a walking bridge were to get approved and funded, it would still be a multi-year project. This is a project that needs to happen now. We, the people of NJ to NY, challenge you, Mayor Steven Fulop, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Phil Murphy and Governor Andrew Cuomo, to make this a reality to solve the worsening problem of the commuter traffic nightmare that’s only just begun. Let's build a bridge and solve this problem together!