According to numbers obtained from the U.S. Census count, Guttenberg, being the most densely populated community in New Jersey, holds 56,012 people per square mile (although that is an average; actually, the town is two tenths of a square a mile in area and holds fewer than 10,807 people in total). Union City, ranked second, holds an average of 52,977 people per square mile. West New York, which falls third on the list, holds 44,995 people per square mile, and Hoboken holds 30,239 people per square mile.
And some of these towns have only begun to host redevelopment projects. Union City is now looking into areas to designate as redevelopment zones and West New York and Guttenberg are just starting to see their waterfront communities flourish.
While many people already consider Hoboken to be overdeveloped, at least three new residential complexes are on the horizon.
Unfortunately, the more people there are in a community, the more cars there are bound to be.
According to the 2001 Urban Mobility Report issued by the Texas Transportation Institute last week, New Jersey drivers spend an average of 34 hours a year sitting in traffic jams. And nobody believes that statistic more than Hudson County drivers.
"We have more cars and more people," said Director of the Union City Parking Authority James Madonna last week. Much of the problem stems from the county's close proximity to New York City and people commuting back and forth through these towns, he said.
"The commuters are the ones creating the problem," said Madonna. "When traffic is backed up getting on the Holland or Lincoln tunnels, they come onto the city streets."
During peak rush hours, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., it is not uncommon to see police directing traffic in and out of Hoboken.
However, trying to drive through Bergenline Avenue, which runs from Union City through West New York and Guttenberg into North Bergen, or Hoboken's Washington Street, around 2 p.m., is not always easy either.
"The truth is, everybody is in love with their car," said Hoboken Parking Authority spokesman Anthony Amabile, who recently met a Hobokenite who moved into the town close to two years ago with both of his cars.
"We have more cars than we should have here," said West New York Police Director Joseph Peliccio, who added that his city has been concentrating on double parking on its town's busy streets. "But we have to handle it. Can we do a better job? We can always do a better job."
"[Double parking] was a lot worse four years ago in West New York," added Peliccio. "[Double parking] creates an inconvenience to other motorists."
What about the parking?
Another situation created by the large population in the area is parking. Many people find themselves walking five or more blocks from their houses just to get to their cars.
Much of Hoboken's mayoral election was based on the parking problem this year.
"We have a need for more parking," said James Madonna. "But the question is, 'Where are you going to put it?'"
Union City, which does not have waterfront property, has very little open space left to generate parking spaces. And with the municipal tax rates so high in these communities that building parking lots is far less cost effective then building apartment complexes and office space.
However, West New York just completed a new parking lot on 52nd Street, and Hoboken has seen more than 3,000 new private and public parking spaces in the past eight years.
Other efforts to alleviate the parking situation in these towns include permit programs. Hoboken has about 14,000 residents registered in their resident parking program. Union City, which only began its permit program a few months ago, already has close to 4,000 residents enrolled.
Many of these programs are free and only allow those cars with permits to park on the street for more than four hours at a time.
West New York initiated their permit program a couple of years back when they found many cars remaining in the town until seven or eight o'clock at night.
"We were getting many commuters that would park their cars and get on the bus to go to New York," said Director of the West New York Parking Authority John Mirabella. "In the mean time we had no parking. We are trying to stop that from happening and create more parking spaces."
These programs also include special permits for visitors and businesses in the area.
"You just do the best you can to eliminate the problem as best you can," said Madonna. "This is one of the unsolveable problems at this point in time."
Amabile said that mayors Brian Stack in Union City and Anthony Russo in Hoboken have been in touch with regional transportation agencies to try and help the municipalities solve these problems.