Jersey City’s Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza awarded the Municipal Project of the Year

by PDM STAFF

Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza in Jersey City | File Photo

JERSEY CITY, NJ – The New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers (NJSME) awarded Jersey City’s Newark Avenue Plaza the Municipal Project of the Year. The plaza is considered one of New Jersey’s premier shopping, dining, and community events destinations.

“After careful consideration, in 2015, we took a chance to establish a safe space for pedestrians where we could foster community and stimulate our local economy. To receive this award from the state-level seven years later further confirms that our vision has become a reality and a major success,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “This plaza permanency project included more tree plantings, ADA accessibility, built-in seating, bicycle racks, better lighting for improved visibility, and steel bollards near active portions of the roadway to ensure the safety of pedestrians as part of Jersey City’s commitment to Vision Zero.”

According to City officials, the existing roadway is now raised to meet the new trench drainage system, which also provides curb-less ADA accessibility to the plaza. The hydronic excavation was used for the footings of the decorative poles, which support the programmable LED string lights that illuminate the plaza, leaving a distinct and welcoming impression on customers and passive users.

The Pedestrian Mall was first closed to vehicles in 2015 as a pilot program to limit traffic and create a pedestrian destination. The plaza was expanded to a second block in 2018. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the plaza was lengthened to Grove Street between Montgomery Street and Christopher Columbus Drive, as well as 1st Street and Newark Avenue. The expanded outdoor capacity helped restaurants, and small businesses stay afloat and safely reopen sooner.

Paul Russo, Director of the Division of Engineering, said the City met all the community needs and wants within the design, especially for local businesses that benefit significantly from the permanency project. Added Russo: “After years of creating a place where residents and visitors know they can go year-round to enjoy the outdoors, the restaurants, the shops, and the overall ambiance, we are very proud to have delivered on this special project and to take home an award in the process is an added bonus I am grateful for.”

According to Barkha Patel, Director of the Department of Infrastructure, the City has added several other pedestrian plazas in other areas throughout Jersey City to help local restaurants and small businesses survive, especially during COVID, with expanded outdoor space to entice more people to shop local.

“In a densely populated City like ours, pedestrian plazas and open spaces are critical public infrastructure to support not only economic vitality but also the overall health, well-being, and resilience of our communities,” said Patel.

The award was presented at this year’s New Jersey League of Municipalities in Atlantic City and accepted by Jersey City’s Engineering team after years of careful planning to create a unique design that meets community needs.

“On behalf of the Society, we commend Paul Russo, PE, on his outstanding work on the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Project and his first place honor. The administration’s innovation has created a transformation of the area, which now allows for the community to enjoy more open space, offers ADA accessibility and pedestrian safety, all while delivering an aesthetically pleasing plaza to the City,” said Matthew Halpin, NJSME Executive Director said of Jersey City’s efforts.

In Jersey City, 2022 is the “Year of Open Space,” emphasizing the community’s need for open spaces and the opportunity to innovate and create them.

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