Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that the State of New Jersey will allocate $65 million to purchase the rights of a former rail line to create a nine-mile Essex-Hudson Greenway that would link Jersey City, Secaucus, Kearny, Newark, Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, and Montclair.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“This project has been years in the making, and I am proud to be the Governor to advance this dream to being a reality,” Murphy said today.
“This new park will be a crown jewel of our state park system, providing much-needed recreational space to New Jerseyans and out-of-state visitors, while revitalizing and protecting environmentally-sensitive areas. Residents of our state’s two largest cities, and the suburbs beyond and in-between will benefit from access to a multi-use trail, and the natural beauty of the Meadowlands.”
Outgoing Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31) praised elected leaders and activists for staying on the course on this years-long endeavor.
“It’s difficult to express how excited I am to have played a roll in preserving nearly 9 miles of open space that will provide access to the river, play an important role in addressing environmental justice issues, and preserve a transportation corridor between Jersey City and Montclair,” he said.
Open Space Institute President and CEO Kim Elliman also expressed great enthusiasm about today’s announcement.
“We commend Governor Murphy, all the local leaders and elected officials who recognized the extraordinary potential of the Greenway, and our coalition partners – New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance – who have been key partners in growing support for the Greenway. We are proud of the role we played to negotiate the deal, bring stakeholders together, and generate public and private support for the initiative,” she said.
In July 2020, the Open Space Institute (OSI) reached a preliminary purchase and sale agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway for the property in Essex and Hudson Counties for the purpose of the Greenway.
“Governor Murphy’s announcement on the provision of funding for the Essex-Hudson Greenway is a monumental step for the future of northeastern New Jersey,” said Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, a longtime advocate of the Greenway.
“Upon its completion, the EHG will serve as a blueprint for future environmentally friendly infrastructure projects nationwide, while helping our local communities rebound from the financial challenges we experienced due to the pandemic.”
Local community leaders have been calling for the creation of a linear park on the former rail line property to create a safe, off-road trail to ride a bike and walk; ease traffic and offer active transportation options; create alternate commuting options; provide close-to-home, easy access to the outdoors; and bring much needed green space to urban communities that are traditionally and negatively impacted by infrastructure development.
“This Greenway project has been a major campaign of ours for nearly a decade and we are thrilled that the State has taken this critical step in making this dream a reality that will offer so many benefits to all our residents,” added Debra Kagan, executive director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition.
“ … This Greenway will bring enhanced quality-of-life to the entire region, provide access to open space to underserved communities, and be a landmark of development that promotes healthy communities.”
The proposed Greenway follows the right-of-way of the eastern portion of NJ Transit’s former Boonton Line.
Passenger service was discontinued on this portion of the line in 2002. Following termination of NJ Transit’s commuter service, limited freight service continued until the last rail customer ceased operations in 2015.
Spanning an average of 100 feet or more in width throughout its route, the project has the potential to offer significant benefits, especially in light of the current health, environmental and fiscal crises.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti.