Morristown, NJ

Unused NJ Rail Line to Become State Park

Morristown Minute

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Morristown Minute

Gov. Murphy has pledged $65 million to revitalize nine miles of unused rail lines into a state park stretching from Montclair to Jersey City.

Governor Murphy announced a $65 million commitment to fund the Essex-Hudson Greenway, a new state park that plans to redevelop nine miles of unused rail lines from Montclair to Jersey City. The train tracks became irrelevant after the Midtown Direct train line was created in 2002 and has since decayed into ruin with graffiti and litter scattered across the old tracks.

The train tracks will be removed, and the new linear state park will feature pedestrian and bike trails. Communities along the former Boonton rail line have campaigned for years to have the area revitalized into a linear state park. In November of 2021 New Jersey finally heard the community’s pleas and pledged to take action.

The 135-acre park will open in stages, the first stage to open in a “few years.” The tracks and new state park begin in Montclair and passes through Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City.

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Rendering shows Montclair's future portion of the Essex-Hudson GreenwayCourtesy of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects/Open Space Institute

The new park aims to provide green space to urban communities as well as connects urban areas to the suburbs. The park also offers commuters an opportunity to leave the car at home and travel by foot or bike to other parts of New Jersey, potentially decreasing pollution and lessening traffic. The park also offers the potential for economic benefits as park visitors will have the option to visit restaurants and shops along the trail.

The land was purchased by New Jersey for $65 million from Norfolk Southern Railroad. The linear park will use portions of the trail for stormwater mitigation to curb the recent increase in flooding in surrounding communities. New Jersey’s Governor also proposes that the new park will help maintain or even increase the property value of nearby homes along the trail.

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An artist rendering shows the future Greenway in Newark.Courtesy of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects/Open Space Institute

NJ Rep. Mikie Sherrill said she plans to help the state secure further funding to complete the project. Governor Murphy recognized the rough conditions of the former rail line saying the purchase was a “gem” but a “rough cut one.”

The deal to purchase the old rail line was set to expire in January of 2022, but funding came through in time to solidify the state's purchase.

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