As the state Turnpike Authority looks to rebuild the Newark Bay Bridge and expand the number of lanes that head in and out of Hudson County, the leaders of the two cities in the shadow of the extension have emerged with differing positions on the project.
The next meeting to discuss those opinions, however, will likely not be between the two mayors, but rather between Bayonne mayoral hopeful Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski and Jersey City’s Mayor Steve Fulop.
While Ashe-Nadrowski, the City Council president, has clashed with Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis on many issues, it appears that her criticism for this one is more about his handling of the matter than his opinion itself.
Both Ashe-Nadrowski and Davis, after all, support the $4.7 billion project’s plan to rebuild the Newark Bay Bridge, which they’ve lived with as the continuously under-repair singular roadway residents use to head west.
But while Fulop tweeted and made headlines with his position against the project as it currently stands, Ashe-Nadrowski said she fears Bayonne’s stake in the project may get lost. She said she requested meetings with Fulop, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and expects to meet with Fulop next week.
“I get it, that’s great, the mayor of Jersey City doing what’s right for Jersey City, but Bayonne needs to be heard,” Ashe-Nadrowski said in an interview. “We cannot let other towns dictate because it affects Bayonne drivers.”
She said she hopes that the two cities can find a compromise through which both can benefit.
Fulop has said doesn’t like that the plan would add lanes to the roadway, which he sees as an invitation for more traffic in Jersey City as drivers exit.
“Instead, the investment here for NJ should be in mass transit as we have plenty of needs on that front,” he tweeted.
He and Davis have communicated about their differing positions for a while now, said Jersey City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.
“While this has been a long process, Mayor Fulop welcomes Council President Nadrowski’s interest in this project as of yesterday,” Wallace-Scalcione said.
Ashe-Nadrowski said she supports green transit infrastructure, but that Bayonne residents don’t have mass transit options to fall back on to travel west or south into the rest of New Jersey. The bridge is their route out of Hudson County, and they need it in proper working condition, she said.
“To say that residents who live in Bayonne on a peninsula with limited mass transit options are not going to need cars is just not realistic,” she said.
The highway will also be increasingly important for Bayonne as it develops the former Military Ocean Terminal and welcomes in facilities that require trucking, like a new UPS distribution center, she said.
“I understand the need to review the project’s community impact, but Bayonne needs to lead the conversation and have a voice in the process,” Ashe-Nadrowski said in a press release.