New Jersey Gov. Murphy announces Essex-Hudson Greenway acquisition

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Governor Murphy announces the Greenway project with Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Ed Potosnak, and Open Space Institute CEO Kim Elliman at Branch Brook Park on September 15, 2022. (Photo: Edwin J. Torres, NJ Governor’s Office)

NEWARK, New Jersey – Governor Phil Murphy today announced the acquisition of a nine-mile former rail line, which will be converted into a new State park connecting eight Essex and Hudson County communities – Jersey City, Secaucus, Kearny, Newark, Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, and Montclair. As a result of this once-in-a-generation project, these communities will benefit from expanded access to green, open space; increased transportation and recreation opportunities; and improved air filtration and stormwater management. Governor Murphy was joined by state and local elected officials, environmental advocates, and critical project partners who helped bring the acquisition to fruition.

“For far too long, many of New Jersey’s most diverse communities have not enjoyed equitable access to our state’s open spaces and their accompanying health benefits,” said Governor Murphy. “While connecting these communities to our natural environment and economic opportunity, the Greenway will also bolster resilience in one of the state’s most densely populated regions. Its acquisition testifies to my Administration’s dedicated work and the shared vision of the partners who are making this new destination a reality.”

“The Essex-Hudson Greenway will be a game-changer for the East Coast Greenway and equitable transportation in northern New Jersey,” said East Coast Greenway Alliance Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano. “Its development will greatly improve one of the most treacherous stretches of our Maine-to-Florida route. This new greenway will provide an equitable and safe path for commuters and recreational use, as well as countless economic, environmental and health benefits for the region. We are so grateful for the hard work of our many partners in the region, including Governor Murphy, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, Open Space Institute and the September 11 National Memorial Trail, for making this project a reality.”

The Fiscal Year 2023 budget agreement includes $20 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to begin the remedial and structural work necessary to transform the abandoned rail line into a usable transportation corridor and recreational space. The entire line will remain closed to the public for an initial period of 6-12 months, after which the line will be opened to the public segment by segment as work on individual sections is completed over the next several years. 

The sequence of the development and opening of the Greenway, as well as the design for amenities, transportation options, and connections to local community resources, will be informed by a strategic master plan for the Greenway. The DEP is currently procuring a consultant to support the development of the master plan and is leading an interagency working group and engagement with local elected officials, community members, and other stakeholders.

“In this old, abandoned rail line, the Murphy Administration sees an opportunity to improve the quality of life, environment, and economy of the region—and we are seizing it,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. “Alongside Governor Murphy and our many partners, the DEP is excited to continue the work of delivering a transformative Greenway that better connects our communities, provides innovative recreation and transit options, and contributes to the dynamic towns and cities all along its course.”

“NJ TRANSIT is pleased to have helped facilitate this important bi-county initiative,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “The Essex-Hudson Greenway will offer complementary and environmentally-friendly mobility spanning two counties and eight municipalities in one of the most densely populated regions in northern New Jersey.”

“For far too long our families have had to deal with the negative impact of an abandoned rail line. From illegal dumping to being an inviting space for negative activities, the rail line has tainted homeownership, backyards, new developments, new elementary schools and the first countywide park system in the country,” said Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz. “It is truly historic to see this project finally coming to fruition, which will bring an end to a decades long public nuisance. Today’s announcement shows that New Jersey will continue to fight for environmental justice. I am grateful Governor Murphy sees the value in this project and I look forward to being a partner in this endeavor, which will be a game changer for open space.”

“Repurposing an abandoned rail line into a state park and a multimodal transit corridor for walking, hiking, and biking will be good for the environment, good for public safety, good for the small businesses in these densely populated communities and for our regional economy, and good for our constituents’ physical and mental well-being,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, a longtime advocate for our state’s park system. “The pandemic illustrated the importance of preserving and expanding our open spaces, especially in urban areas. I am grateful to the Governor for making this critical step happen, which will ensure the Essex-Hudson Greenway finally becomes a reality that will be cherished by our children and their children.”

Together, let's grow the Greenway

Recent record-setting funding for design and construction goes directly to building the East Coast Greenway - as it should. The East Coast Greenway Alliance needs your support to continue our advocacy work that is fueling completion of the Greenway. The Alliance has a sustained track record of turning every dollar donated to our nonprofit into $100 in public infrastructure investment. Invest today and support the growth of the East Coast Greenway from Maine to Florida.