Jersey City, NJ

Essex-Hudson Greenway: $65 Million in NJ Funding Will Create New State Park

Carolyne Volpe Curley / West Essex Now

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Abandoned Booton lineEssex-Hudson Greenway Coalition
"Today is an extremely exciting and moving day. We are thrilled to announce that after decades of fighting for the Essex-Hudson Greenway, the State has officially announced it will secure purchase rights for the 9-mile former Boonton Line! Thank you, Governor Murphy, Community leaders, supporting organizations, and residents for making the greenway a reality!" ~ Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition

November 12, 2021

Today the Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition announced that, after decades of local advocacy and three years of direct negotiations with state officials, the State of New Jersey has agreed to secure purchase rights to nearly nine miles of the former Norfolk Southern Railway, spanning through eight municipalities Essex and Hudson counties in one of the most highly populated regions of northern New Jersey.

Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition

The following advocate organizations worked together to create the initiative:

Agreement

In July 2020, the Open Space Institute secured the rights to purchase NJ Transit’s decaying eastern section of the Booton railway line from Norfolk Southern Railway Company, which has not been used for seven years, for $65 million.

NJ Transit Boonton Line

  • 2002: Passenger service discontinued; freight service continued
  • 2015: All trains ceased operating
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Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition
  • The track spans an average of 100 feet in width
  • As it presents a public safety hazard, the area is not currently open to the public.

Essex and Hudson Greenway Route

Jay Watson, Senior Director for Statewide Land Protection & Community Relations at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said that the Greenway plan is “creating a green swath through these densely developed communities." The Greenway will cross above both the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers and pass through eight municipalities in this order:

  • Montclair
  • Glen Ridge
  • Bloomfield
  • Belleville
  • Newark
  • Kearny
  • Secaucus
  • Jersey City
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Governor Phil Murphy at Bloomfield Library Nov. 12 2021Office of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

NJ State Park

Joined today by state and local officials at the Bloomfield Library, NJ Governor Phil Murphy affirmed that the state will purchase the 135-acre property where the long-abandoned and decaying Boonton line rail stretches from Montclair to Jersey City.

Once completed, the Essex-Hudson Greenway will be New Jersey’s first state park since 2006.

“This project has been years in the making, and I am proud to be the Governor to advance this dream to being a reality. 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. I am grateful for our partners across government including in the Legislature, Essex, and Hudson counties, and our federal delegation for their efforts in support of this project.”~ NJ Governor Phil Murphy

Diverse Landscape

The new park will pass through existing parks and wetlands, as well as urban, suburban, and industrial areas, including the scenery of the Meadowlands.

State Funding

Funding for the Greenway State Park will be provided through a collaborative effort including:

  • NJ Department of Environmental Protection
  • NJ Transit
  • NJ Legislature
  • NJ congressional delegation
  • American Rescue Plan
“I am so proud of the Essex-Hudson Greenway project and the broad coalition that’s come together to support it. In this densely populated area of our state, building a bike and hiking trail along out of use rail lines will link together communities, improve quality of life, expand our state park system and revitalize our towns. During COVID, we realized the value of our outdoor spaces. This greenway will allow communities to come together and provide business opportunities along the trail. I can’t wait until this is completed. I know my family and many others in the region will treasure it.”~ Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill

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Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition

Commuting and Traffic Impact

From the beginning, the Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition has envisioned an off-road trail where residents can walk and ride bikes. The Greenway could foreseeably:

  • Offer walking and cycling commuting options that will reduce car and bus trips
  • Reduce carbon footprints
  • Ease traffic jams

Murphy Administration Emissions Reduction Plan

If successful in encouraging car-free transportation, the Essex-Hudson Greenway will play a part in the administration's goals of reducing overall emissions:

  • 2030: 50% reduction
  • 2050: 80% reduction
“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. 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.” ~ Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill

Economic Impact

Along its route, the Greenway is expected to bolster local economic development by:

  • Enriching local businesses
  • Enhancing real estate values

Flooding Impact

Through planning, surveying, and environmental assessments, the Coalition believes that stormwater runoff in towns along the Greenway will be improved.

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Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.Office of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

“Preserving open space and creating recreation opportunities for our residents has been an ongoing initiative of my administration. We thank Governor Murphy for supporting the Greenway project and making this longtime vision become a reality. Essex County is one of the most densely populated and developed areas on the East Coast and opening this nine-mile stretch will be a tremendous benefit for our residents.” ~ Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Recreational Opportunities

The Greenway Park will include walking paths and bike lanes which will encourage healthy mental and physical living for all ages. Those expected to take full advantage of the trail include:

  • Cyclists
  • Hikers
  • Runners
  • Walkers

Wide Public Support

For years, local community groups have been calling on officials to transform the former rail line property into a safe, much-needed greenspace and the initiative for creating the Essex-Hudson Greenway has been widely popular among North Jersey residents. Over 130 state, county, and local entities have publically expressed their support for the open space project including the following Essex businesses and organizations:

The full list of supporters is found here.

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Further Information

Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition

Essex County, NJ
Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.; Essex County Executive
465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ 07102
973-621-4400
“Essex County is a great place to live, work and play, and there are many recreational opportunities available here. Our park system is the oldest in the country and our 17 parks and five reservations provide a tranquil and peaceful setting for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of our busy streets. For those who seek more organized activities, we have ice skating and roller skating rinks, a minor league baseball stadium, a 15-acre zoo and three golf courses. I encourage you and your family to “Experience Essex” as you discover the treasures of our historic park system.”

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Carolyne Volpe Curley, a Certified New Jersey Press Journalist since 2012, has appeared on nationally televised productions and interviewed by the international press. Volpe Curley publishes West Essex NOW, a hyperlocal news site covering Essex County, NJ. Volpe Curley graduated from Lafayette College in 1986, with a BA in both English and Government, and a minor in Women Studies and Religion.

Essex County, NJ
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