Ongoing environmental projects in Jersey City were highlighted at today’s Journal Square Community Association meeting, in particular the Essex-Hudson Greenway project.
JSQCA November Meeting https://t.co/5ywuP0FD8F
— Journal Square Community Association (@JSQCA) November 14, 2020
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
Debra Kagan, Executive Director of the NJ Bike & Walk Coalition (NJBWC), discussed the ongoing efforts move the project forward. The current iteration includes an elevated bike and walking path – similar to the Highline in New York City.
Kagan also noted that such a project could spur economic development. A similar effort in Miami generated $50 million in economic activity, she said. It also increases the housing value of nearby homes from four to 20 percent.
The NJBWC began working on it in 2014 and secured support from the towns it runs through one by one.
The greenway would connect eight towns in Essex and Hudson Counties running from Montclair to Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearney, Secaucus, and Jersey City.
The Open Space Institute (OSI), a national conservation organization, has also been a strong supporter of the project, as has the Sept. 11th National Memorial trail group.
That trail is 1300 miles long and would link 9/11memorials in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. They also want to connect the Essex-Hudson Greenway to the larger East Coast Greenway, which seeks to run from Florida to Maine.
Kagan noted people have been working on the project for almost twenty years since the Norfolk Southern railroad abandoned the tracks formerly known as the old Boonton line in 2002.
“People have been talking about this project since the early 2000s … Having open space is rare sometimes and critical,” Kagan said.
Unfortunately, the railroad wasn’t interested in selling for some time.
However, this past summer, the OSI made a deal with Norfolk Southern. The counties can now purchase the old train line. However, the option to buy it expires in January if it’s not renewed.
If the deal goes through, the two counties would jointly own the nine miles of railroad connectivity, which would provide new space for recreation and transportation, Kagan said.
Additionally, the greenway would contain 175 acres of green space for the roughly 500,000 residents of its eight municipalities. The enhanced tree canopy will reduce heat, serve as a space for wildlife.
The design also incorporates strategies to address flooding in the area and enhance internet connectivity by laying new cables underneath it.
She said they are currently working to arrange the money to purchase the rail line and the structure to govern it and see the project come to fruition, which comes with a hefty price tag: $65 million.
Kagan added that if people use it regularly to get around the area, it could reduce car use by 30 percent.