Major federal grant will improve conditions on Hackensack Avenue in South Kearny

The Town of Kearny has received a $3 million federal grant to implement the redevelopment of Hackensack Avenue, a stretch of roadway that serves as the primary entranceway to Kearny Point, the $1 billion redevelopment of the former WWI and WWII ship-making facilities in South Kearny.

The announcement event was hosted by Kearny Point and featured speakers including John Fleming, assistant secretary for economic development; Alberto Santos, mayor of Kearny; Linda Cruz-Carnall, regional director of EDA’s Philadelphia Regional Office; and executives from Hugo Neu, the company behind the redevelopment of Kearny Point.

Formally announced at the event, the United States Economic Development Administration’s Public Work program approved federal funding to implement new infrastructure and traffic improvements to fully transform Hackensack Avenue into a “high-performance green street.” Once the improvements are integrated, the new, widened roadway will accommodate all travelers — including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians — as well as implement several significant environmental improvements to reduce the incidence of flooding and limit nonpoint source pollution of the Hudson-Raritan watershed.

“Kearny Point is the type of true public/private partnership that the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration is eager to invest in,” Fleming said. “Coupled with this EDA grant, the added-investment incentive provided by the Opportunity Zone program will help to attract new business to Kearny Point, generating economic opportunity throughout the region.”

The planned improvements at Hackensack Avenue will provide bold environmental updates to mitigate against future storm-related flooding. Green infrastructure improvements will include the installation of permeable materials and native-plant bioswales, along with smart sponge technology, to assist with high-performance stormwater management and treatment of runoff.

The project will rebuild the roadway’s underground water-distribution system, stormwater system, gas distribution system piping, underground sanitary sewer conveyance system and much of the overhead electric services along with electric, telephone and cable conduits.

“Reconstruction of Hackensack Avenue will promote our goals of supporting the growth of businesses along this busy corridor while at the same time enhancing safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists as well as motorists,” Santos said. “It will also promote our town’s stormwater-management plan to expand pervious surfaces in order to reduce stormwater entering our strained sewer system.”

The reconstruction of Hackensack Avenue is intended to support Kearny Point’s goals of enhancing regional economic development, providing opportunities for small business growth and entrepreneurship, and incorporating the highest levels of environmental sustainability, green infrastructure, ecological restoration and historic preservation. Since the first phase of the redevelopment, which included the renovation of the historic Building 78, Kearny Point has already attracted more than 250 businesses to the reimagined campus.

In addition to Kearny Point, the roadway will improve public access to nearby properties located on the southern portion of the peninsula, including the Hudson County Emergency Services at the USS Juneau Memorial Center and the Hudson County Correctional Center.

“The transformation of Hackensack Avenue will strengthen both pedestrian and biker safety while improving access to Kearny Point and stimulating critical local economic growth,”  U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a chief architect of the Opportunity Zones legislation, said in a statement“Federal investments in modernizing New Jersey’s infrastructure will not only safeguard the area from future storm-related flooding, but will also lay the foundation for the economic revitalization and improved quality of life that this community deserves. Thank you to all of the stakeholders involved for your hard work in making this project a reality for Kearny Point.”

The street will be reconstructed to include a 32-foot road, a 12-foot sidewalk along the west side of the right-of-way and a 28-foot promenade along the east side. Portions of the redesigned streetscape will also feature seating pockets for pedestrian gatherings, a promenade with a protected bike path, and lush, native green planting beds.

The improved portion of the Hackensack Avenue right-of-way will also include plantings, street trees and pedestrian-scale light poles. Plans include approximately 22,200 square feet of native grass and forb species, 58 shade trees and 67 pedestrian-scale decorative street light poles.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.