Activists hold rally in opposition to NJ Turnpike expansion project in Hudson County

The groups are demanding that the project be stopped and that the funds be reinvested in public transportation.

Naomi Yané

May 28, 2024, 10:28 AM

Updated 15 days ago


Activists held a rally Tuesday night ahead of a New Jersey Turnpike Authority listening session about the first stage of a turnpike expansion project in Hudson County.
The $11 billion expansion project has some residents in an uproar and is being met with strong opposition from environmental activists and people who live in adjacent communities. The rally was hosted by the Turnpike Trap Coalition, Empower New Jersey, local activists and elected officials.
They are demanding that the project be stopped and that the funds be reinvested in public transportation.
"Hudson County and Essex County are very transit-dependent and yet we're putting $11 billion into widening eight miles of a highway that just feeds into our communities and then into the bottleneck that is the Holland Tunnel, and we don't think that makes sense,” says Emmanuelle Morgen, of Hudson County Complete Streets.
Phase 1 of the project involves expanding the Newark Bay Extension with two wider bridges between Bayonne and Newark. But activists say a wider span means more cars and more pollution – particularly for communities of color that sit adjacent to that 8-mile stretch of road.
"Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds, from the Weequahic Park Association, has lived in Newark for 20 years.
“We're constantly bombarded by air emissions…nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, carbon dioxide, all sorts of particulate matter. We're just bombarded by it," she says.
Lisa Navarro, supervising engineer for the Turnpike Authority, broke down myths and facts about the project and said that the almost 70-year-old bridge is past just simple repairs.
"The extension is at the end of its life and it's our responsibility as the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to address it before something goes wrong," Navarro says.
Laborers who are in support of the project say it will mean more jobs for the region.
"From beginning to end of this project it's 25,000 jobs…they're middle-class jobs. They're not giant high-paying jobs. It’s just middle-class jobs for people that live here and just want to make a living,” says Todd Heuer, of Hudson County Building Trade.
The Coast Guard is the lead federal agency that will give the final green light for the project if it meets environmental standards. The public comment period is open until July 11.

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