New Jersey Planning to Buy Former Rail Line to Create First State Park Since 2006

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced the acquisition of the former rail line and intent to create new nine-mile linear state park & transit-way connecting Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus and Jersey City on Friday, November 12, 2021. (Edwin J. Torres/ NJ Governor's Office).

(The Center Square) – New Jersey plans to buy about nine miles of a former rail line to create the first new state park since 2006.

The state plans to transform the former Boonton Line running between Jersey City and Montclair into a greenway, crossing the Passaic and Hackensack rivers. The 155-acre property passes through Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Kearny, Newark and Secaucus.

The state plans to spend about $60 million to acquire the land, but the project’s total cost is “not yet available,” Michael Zhadanovsky, a spokesperson for Gov. Phil Murphy, told The Center Square.

“For far too long our families have had to deal with the negative impact of an abandoned rail line,” Senate President Pro Tempore Teresa Ruiz, D-Newark, said in an announcement. “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.”

The Essex-Hudson Greenway Coalition – a group consisting of the Open Space Institute, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance – has urged the state to buy the abandoned rail line from Atlanta-based Norfolk Southern Railway.

“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,” Murphy, a Democrat, said in an announcement. “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.”

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The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. A taxpayer sensibility distinguishes our work from other coverage of state and local issues.