The Greenway is an approximately nine-mile, 100-foot-wide linear corridor spanning Essex and Hudson Counties through eight municipalities (Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, Jersey City). The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection acquired this property from Norfolk Southern on August 19, 2022. The Department of Environmental Protection’s vision is to convert this blighted corridor into a thriving recreation and transportation corridor traversing two of the most densely populated Counties in New Jersey – and in the nation.
With over 7,850 residents per square mile – approximately 1.5 million people in the surrounding area – the Greenway seeks to provide outdoor recreation and alternative transportation opportunities to over 16 percent of New Jersey’s population. In this heavily developed region, the Greenway is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Greenway represents a unique and potentially transformative opportunity to create a linear multi-modal recreational and transit corridor enabling seamless walking, biking and transit opportunities between Montclair and Jersey City, while serving as a catalyst for environmental improvements and economic development in the adjacent communities. It stands to become a destination unto itself as a place for exercise, recreation and access to the great outdoors. The Department of Environmental Protection anticipates that the project will spur new enterprises and support existing businesses in areas in need of economic growth and redevelopment.
The Greenway will connect residents to parks, schools, hospitals, and business districts, in addition to offering commuters a way to bypass some of New Jersey’s most congested roadways. The Greenway passes near the Newark light rail and NJ Transit’s Frank R. Lautenberg Secaucus Junction train station, which provide direct access to New York’s Penn Station. The Greenway passes through overburdened communities (as defined by the New Jersey Environmental Justice Law, N.J.S.A. 13:1D-157) that suffer disproportionately from lack of access to open space, health concerns, and social determinants of health.
NJDEP is committed to deep, robust community engagement to learn how members of host communities want to use and interact with this new public open space, how it can best serve community needs, and other methods to ensure equitable distribution of the myriad environmental, public health, and economic benefits promised by this transformative project.
Recognizing the interest of the public in utilizing the space in the immediate future, NJDEP is undertaking development in discrete phases to prioritize early access and a sense of community ownership. Engagement for this project seeks to achieve the following objectives:
Focus on Assets: Take an assets-based approach to framing engagement questions and activities, building on local strengths and aspirations for where investments should happen, rather than concentrating on barriers to implementation.
Share Decision-Making: Promote community understanding and influence to determine how and where the community wants to begin investment in the Greenway, what they want to build, and what the Greenway should connect to (e.g. more amenities along a smaller stretch of greenway, or a longer, connected stretch with limited amenities).
Keep It Fun and Make the Plan Come Alive!: Make participation in the engagement process an enjoyable, interactive experience, engaging local businesses, places, and stories.
Reconnect to Previously Engaged Entities: Integrate and build on information shared in past studies, conversations with the stakeholders and municipalities, and with other state entities.
Connect to and Include Many (New) Voices: Focus efforts on closing historic gaps in outreach and engagement, especially with BIPOC residents, businesses, youth, and environmental, cultural organizations and welcome participation.
Be Transparent and Accountable: Value the contributions of community members, demonstrate the impact of community feedback on greenway investment and ensure community feedback drives and benefits from greenway investment outcomes.
These objectives will be accomplished through key stakeholder meetings, public workshops, pop-ups/tabling in existing events, regular communications with stakeholders and the broader public, community leader conversation, surveys, and trail tests.
View upcoming events and find additional information on our Greenway Linktree.
A: The newest addition to the State Park system, the Greenway is a nearly nine-mile-long former rail corridor passing through eight New Jersey communities (Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City).
NJDEP’s vision is to convert this blighted corridor into a thriving active linear open space and transportation corridor traversing Essex and Hudson Counties two of the most densely populated areas in New Jersey – and the nation.
Once developed and opened for public use, the Greenway will serve as a multimodal, walking, biking, and transit corridor providing new, safe, and equitable opportunities for outdoor recreation and open space enjoyment, improvement of regional transportation and stormwater performance, and spurring equitable economic growth and redevelopment to the residents of its host communities and the State as a whole by enabling seamless connections from Montclair through Newark and to Jersey City.
A: When completed, the Greenway will pass through eight municipalities in Essex and Hudson Counties: Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus, and Jersey City. A map of the greenway can be found here.
A: NJDEP acquired the Greenway from the former rail operator, Norfolk Southern, on August 19, 2022.
A: Because of the paucity of options for acquisition of significant open space in this highly populated region, the Greenway represented a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a truly transformative project that will provide sorely needed open space opportunities while serving as a catalyst for economic development while increasing community members’ quality of life – improving environmental, individual, and public health. When presented with the option to purchase this exceptional asset after years of hard work and dedication from many organizations and individuals, including, but not limited to, the Open Space Institute, the New Jersey Bike Walk Coalition, the 9/11 National Memorial Trail, and Norfolk Southern, NJDEP was compelled, consistent with its mission to provide high-quality open space opportunities to all areas of the State, to act and remains grateful for the opportunity.
A: Unfortunately, the Greenway is closed to public access while under development. Due to the legacy of industrial pollution in the vicinity, its prior railroad usage, and the dilapidation of existing infrastructure, the Greenway is not currently suitable for public use.
A:NJDEP, in collaboration with a team of highly experienced engineering and design consultants, is in the process of developing a comprehensive Master Plan and development timeline. However, recognizing the need to satisfy the public interest in utilizing the space, NJDEP intends to undertake development in discrete phases to prioritize early access in parallel to the broader master planning process.
NJDEP’s approach to the first phase of development will be to include the largest feasible contiguous portion of the Greenway appropriate for immediate development and public use to maximize value delivered to the public upon completion and prioritize initial investments in stormwater infrastructure, remediation, safety and security and basic supportive public amenities. This phased approach would work in parallel to the development of the comprehensive Master Plan with further improvements and amenities subsequently incorporated into the Greenway in accordance with the finalized Master Plan.
NJDEP aims to open the first segment of the Greenway by the end of 2025.
For more information on phased development, see our Greenway Phased Development & Engagement Strategy.
A: Pursuant to NJDEP’s purchase agreement, Norfolk Southern was required to remove all tracks and ties from the former rail corridor. This work concluded in Spring 2023.
On April 4, 2023, NJDEP retained three consultant firms to assist the State with planning and design activities, including assessment services, development of planning and design documents, community and stakeholder engagement, and to facilitate the creation of master plans for its urban parks initiatives. The selected firms are assisting NJDEP with the commencement of robust community-focused stakeholder engagement, and develop recommendations for phased development, stormwater management, and remediation of historic industrial contamination through a series of Mini-Bids focused on safety and security needs assessment; stakeholder engagement and phased development; remedial investigation and design; and stormwater infrastructure. This work will be complete in Fall 2023.
For more information on the work being done, see our Greenway Phased Development & Engagement Strategy.
A: The Department is committed to deep, robust community engagement, and development of the Greenway will be no exception. Community engagement is vital to the success of the Greenway and fully understanding how members of host communities want to use and interact with this new public open space, how it can best serve community needs, and other methods to ensure equitable distribution of the myriad environmental, public health, and economic benefits promised by this transformative project.
NJDEP, with the assistance of its retained consultants, began its first stages of multi-faceted community engagement process in May 2023. This initial approach focuses on determining the appropriate first stages of development, safety and security, assessment of community vision for the Greenway and immediate investment in beneficial stormwater infrastructure.
For more information on engagement, see our Greenway Phased Development & Engagement Strategy.
A: The best way to stay informed on developments with the Greenway is to check the Greenway’s website regularly. It will be updated with significant developments with the project. If you would like to join the Greenway’s mailing list, enter your email address in the box above.
A: Emergencies on the Greenway should be directed to local law enforcement. The Greenway is currently an undeveloped corridor that is closed to public access. While NJDEP does periodically patrol the closed land, emergencies should be directed to local law enforcement by calling 9-1-1. To later report incidents on the Greenway to NJDEP, call 1-877-WARNDEP (1-877-927-6337).
A: NJDEP is engaging and coordinating with representatives from the communities along the Greenway. Individuals may find that local officials will be able to quickly respond to general inquiries. In instances where more information is required, NJDEP will work with local representatives to provide necessary information and periodically update this FAQ.
For general questions and suggestions, please fill out this Greenway comment form.
A: NJDEP is exploring safety and security measures for the Greenway, which will be a focus of formal stakeholder engagement beginning Spring 2023, and State Park Police have begun periodic patrols of the area. NJDEP is working closely with the local municipalities to address concerns and is in the process of installing appropriate signage. Presently, the Greenway is closed to the public and any personal vehicles on the Greenway are trespassing and will be addressed through appropriate means.
A: NJDEP is working closely with the local municipalities to address concerns and is in the process of installing appropriate signage. Presently, the Greenway is closed to the public and any personal vehicles on the Greenway are trespassing and will be addressed through appropriate means.
A: Norfolk Southern issued encroachment letters prior to NJDEP acquiring the Greenway. NJDEP is in the process of addressing encroachment issues with the nine municipalities and impacted residents.
If you would like more information on the encroachment letters and to discuss next steps, please complete this Greenway comment form or call 609-940-4400.
In Spring 2023, DEP collaborated with an Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Policy at Rutgers University on a graduate studio focused on the Greenway. The studio aimed to support DEP's efforts on the Greenway through research, initial designs, and preliminary recommendations. The 19 graduate students focused on the following concerns, paying particular attention to equity considerations related to Greenway development:
View the studio's Story Map to explore their findings by clicking this link, or the image below (opens in new tab).