Gov. Murphy announces purchase of rail line for Essex-Hudson Greenway

The purchase will fulfill a long-sought plan to turn a former railway into a linear state park

The Greenway will stretch through Jersey City and Secaucus and end in Montclair. File photo.

The dream of creating a miles long state park that stretches through Hudson and Essex County may come to fruition after the governor of New Jersey announced the acquisition of the rail line needed to make it reality.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Sept. 15 the acquisition of nine miles of abandoned rail lines formerly owned by the Norfolk Southern Railway Company to turn into what is dubbed the Essex-Hudson Greenway, which will stretch from Jersey City to Montclair.

“This land now belongs to the people of New Jersey, and together we’re going to make it a place for all of our residents to enjoy,” said Murphy at a press event. “This will be a gem of our state park system.”

The official stamp follows years of advocacy to acquire the rail line and transform it into a green corridor. Murphy said that the corridor will include green space, recreation space for biking and walking, as well as multiple access points for NJ Transit’s light rail and buses.

He continued that the greenway will improve access to open space, attract people across the state and across the region that will “unlock new opportunities for local economic growth,” and have environmental benefits such as reducing highway congestion and greenhouse emissions, and improve air quality.

The Greenway will go through Jersey City, Secaucus, Kearny, Newark, Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, and Montclair. The governor’s office said that the fiscal year 2023 budget includes $20 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to begin the remedial and structural work needed to transform the rail line.

The entire line will remain closed to the public for an initial period of 6 to 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.

“This represents a revolutionary and transformational investment in green space, in transit infrastructure, that’s gonna help move North Jersey towards a brighter future,” said Assembly Raj Mukherji.

The groups that advocated for the project included the Open Space Institute, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, and the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance. They warned last year that inaction would close the window on creating it, but had their calls answered when Murphy announced plans to purchase the space last November.

Kim Elliman, the President and CEO of the Open Space Institute, applauded Murphy for moving forward with the project. “With this project, the governor is setting a national precedent on improving the quality of life for urban and suburban residents,” he said.

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.