This Green Lane Through Towns and Suburbs Will Embody New Jersey’s Best | Opinion

By Brendan W. Gill

I recently had the long-awaited and long-awaited opportunity to stand alongside Governor Phil Murphy and a coalition of elected officials, community leaders and civic organizations as the Governor announced that New Jersey would buy the Essex-Hudson Greenway lot – a 9 – a 100-foot-wide linear park and shared-use trail connecting Montclair to Jersey City would be created.

Over 10 years ago, I first heard of what was then called “The Iron and Ice Trail” and I was committed to making this idea a reality. Of all the obstacles and challenges we faced along the way, acquiring the entirety of the land to ensure the Green Lane would operate continuously from Montclair to Jersey City was perhaps the most critical. I am grateful to Governor Murphy for having had the foresight to recognize Essex-Hudson Greenway as a unique opportunity and to take this crucial step.

When complete, the Essex Hudson Greenway will pass through eight municipalities in Essex and Hudson counties and will become the newest addition to our state park system. It will connect neighborhoods, expand green spaces, strengthen local businesses, provide much-needed transportation alternatives, provide new recreation spaces for underserved communities, and will be, in Governor Murphy’s words, “a crown jewel in our country. state park system, and one of the first five “developments, during his time as governor.

However, we still have a long way to go. We cannot afford to distract or wait another 10 years before we can deliver the essential benefits of this project to our communities. We need to channel the momentum of this historic moment to maintain the same sense of urgency regarding the planning and construction phase of the greenway, and we need to be meticulous in our planning on issues ranging from stormwater overflow and stormwater flooding. flood mitigation, trail safety and maintenance.

As with all large companies, this project would not have been possible without the contributions of key partners, supporters and stakeholders. We wouldn’t be where we are now without the diligent efforts of the Open Space Institute, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, the National September 11 Memorial Trail, local businesses and environmental leaders, cycling enthusiasts. and walking, civic groups, religious organizations, public health advocates, park supporters and hundreds of supporting entities. In addition to statewide public support, members of the New Jersey federal delegation to Congress – including Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill – have expressed support for this project. of transformative heritage.

The old Boonton Line rail tracks connect to the DB Draw Railway Swing Bridge over the Hackensack River. This area has been purchased and is expected to be part of the Essex-Hudson Greenway between Jersey City and Montclair.Reena Rose Sibayan | The Jersey Journal

Additionally, according to President Biden’s recently signed $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, the Green Lane will serve as a model for future environmentally friendly infrastructure projects across the country. He will embody the ‘Build Better’ focus on our nation as we improve our infrastructure, provide new opportunities for small businesses, and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Equally important, the Green Lane will serve as an example of our state’s new commitment to environmental justice by reducing pollution and providing fair mobility options to people who have traditionally been victims of major transportation projects close to their communities. .

Since we started the effort to build the Essex-Hudson Greenway almost a decade ago, our understanding and appreciation of the need for this type of green infrastructure in Essex and Hudson counties have grown exponentially. While the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us how essential open public spaces are for densely populated communities like ours, what might have seemed visionary 10 years ago is now a pressing public health issue and quality of life.

The Essex-Hudson Greenway will improve the economy and the health of our communities in the short term, and deliver untold benefits to the environment and to future generations. It will be a game-changing historic infrastructure project that allows New Jersey to take its place as a leader in the national movement toward environmental responsibility and the promotion of a healthier lifestyle.

I remain as committed to this project as I was ten years ago and look forward to continuing my work for another big day in New Jersey’s future – the opening of Essex Hudson. Greenway.

Brendan W. Gill is commissioner general of the Essex County Board of Commissioners and a member of the board of directors of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition. He is also the father of a child aged 12 and 9 and lives with his wife in Montclair.

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