There is currently an out-of-service rail line which runs from Montclair to Jersey City, dubbed both the “Ice & Iron Greenway” and the “Essex-Hudson Greenway”, that has not been used since 2002. This rail line is known as the “Old Boonton line,” and is owned by Norfolk Southern Corporation. The 11-mile corridor, running from Montclair through Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, and Kearny before reaching Jersey City, is an excellent opportunity for a greenway or rail trail that would provide recreational and commuting options, connect people to communities, parks and other destinations along the route, increase property values, ease local congestion on roads, and provide a safe, off-road place for people to ride and walk.
However, due to poor maintenance and lack of use, the right-of-way has become a blighted area full of garbage, graffiti, and a place where individuals congregate outside of view of the police. This situation creates an eyesore for communities and local residents who live along the line and hurts their property values.
What Is a Greenway?
Greenways connect neighborhoods with business districts, parks, places of employment and other communities, and they provide residents with a unique and safe off-road option for recreation and mobility. Instead of driving across this congested area, residents and visitors would use the Greenway to walk or ride a bike. At this time, there is nothing else like this Greenway in highly developed northeastern New Jersey.
The Essex-Hudson Greenway would also co-align with the September 11th National Memorial Trail, a trail system that links the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 National Memorials. The September 11th National Memorial Trail serves as a memorial to those who lost their lives on that tragic day.
The Greenway will also accommodate, at its eastern end, the East Coast Greenway, a long-distance, urban, shared-use trail system linking 25 major cities along the Eastern Seaboard between Calais, Maine, and Key West, Florida. This green travel corridor will provide bike riders, runners, walkers, and other active-transportation users with an off-road way to explore the Eastern Seaboard.
Due to its historic usage as a freight line carrying iron and ice from western New Jersey into New York City, the trail is alternatively known as the “Ice & Iron Greenway,” and incorporating it into the other trail systems in the area will highlight New Jersey’s history and provide interpretative tourism opportunities.
What We Can Do
Norfolk Southern as a railroad owner has received numerous federal public subsidies, including preferential tax treatment for this particular corridor, yet is giving little back to the communities that the corridor traverses. At the present time, the right-of-way is showing signs of neglect, garbage accumulation, and evidence of crime and drug use. These negative qualities serve to detract from the property values of the adjacent landowners and tenants, both commercial and residential.
Along with our community partners, we are actively campaigning to make this greenway a reality. To stay informed, please sign up for updates and for calls to action here.
In October 2017, NJDOT released the Routing Study which they conducted, with NV5 as the consultants, for the East Coast Greenway Meadowlands Connector- the section of the greenway from the Hackensack River to North Newark. The overwhelming choice for this route was the Essex-Hudson Greenway/Old Boonton Line right-of-way.
Read the executive summary Essex-Hudson Routing Study Executive Summary.
Sierra Club of New Jersey published our article on the greenway on page 4 of their January – March 2018 newsletter.
Plans and Studies
Belleville, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Newark, Kearny, Jersey City, Hoboken.