Abandoned railroad tracks set to become NJ’s newest hiking and biking trail

The deserted tracks of the Rahway Valley Railroad in Union County are set to become a multi-use trail community thanks to a $1.5 million injection from a federal program devoted to “non-traditional” transportation tasks.

The Union County Board of Commissioners introduced in early June that the state Department of Transportation had chosen its Rahway Valley Rails-to-Trails venture to obtain funding by way of the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program.

“The Rahway Valley Rails-to-Trails project is paving the way for a brighter future, where safe and accessible multi-use trails bring people together, boost local businesses, create jobs and unlock the beauty of Union County,” mentioned the President of Commissioner Sergio Granados. in a press launch.

Plans embody changing a piece of railway tracks to strolling and biking trails from Kenilworth to close by Roselle Park. But advocates additionally plan to create a community of trails across the county utilizing different deserted rail strains.

The federal Transportation Alternatives program is run by the state, in partnership with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization.

“The Rahway Valley Rails-to-Trails project is a great example of how this program can be used to create multi-use trails that provide safe transportation options and connect people to jobs, boosting the local economy,” mentioned the director of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. director David W. Behrend mentioned in a press release.

The Rahway Valley Railroad operated in northern New Jersey from 1897 till its closure in 1992. At its peak, the railroad was almost 12 miles lengthy, together with the 7.1-mile-long mainline and three department strains, in accordance to a National Parks Service historic account. . The railroad handed by way of Roselle Park, Kenilworth, Union, Springfield, Summit and Maplewood.

Rahway Valley Railway Station on thirty first Street North in Kenilworth served as a turn-of-the-century hub. The station has even served as a backdrop for a lot of movies, in accordance to the Borough of Kenilworth web site.

However, site visitors on the Rahway Valley Railroad was declining within the Nineteen Eighties. The Delaware Otsego Corporation ultimately deserted the road in 1992. In 1995, the State Department of Transportation bought the Rahway Valley Railroad with a plan to rehabilitation of the road. However, a long time have handed with none change.

Today a lot of the outdated Rahway Valley Railway is overgrown. Some of its traces are nonetheless seen below tall grass and weeds.

But the railway line will not be fully forgotten. Residents and elected officers labored to increase funds for a venture that may remodel the outdated railroad right into a trail system that connects current greenways and parks to the Watchung Reserve.

“There are all these other trails in other counties, why should I put bikes in the back of my car and go to another town to have safe trails?” requested Michael Dury, president of Union County Connects, a nonprofit group that advocates for a Union County trail system.

“Trails come in many forms, but the ones we were interested in were the ones that were hidden in plain sight, which was the old rail system,” Dury mentioned. “A lot of them are no longer in use and that coincides with a big need we have.”

Union County is the third most densely populated county within the state with roughly 575,345 residents, in accordance to the newest census knowledge.

“This is desperately needed in Union County,” Dury mentioned.

The Rahway Valley Rails-to-Trails venture goals to create secure multi-use trails from the deserted part of the Rahway Valley Railway that runs by way of Kenilworth and close by Roselle Park. The new pathways, designed for pedestrians and cyclists, will join communities, companies, commerce and recreation alternatives.

“It’s a great way to stay active and promote healthy lifestyles,” mentioned Jay Robaina, Roselle Park Councilman and co-founder of Union County Rails-to-Trails, a bunch created to talk about transformation. Union County’s inactive rail strains right into a community of public trails.

“A project like this will provide transportation, create open spaces, access to parks, schools, businesses, transit centers,” Robaina mentioned. “And I hope this is just the beginning.”

Union County Connects and Union County Rails-to-Trails intention to convert different deserted rail strains within the county, together with 3.5 miles of the inactive Central Railroad of New Jersey line. The rail hall, which stretches from Elizabeth to Cranford, is at present owned by Conrail.

The deserted North Shore department of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad, which additionally runs from Elizabeth to Cranford, is one other line being thought-about for future trail use. The department of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad has been discontinued for the reason that Nineteen Eighties.

“How fantastic would it be to turn this into something that could connect our families?” Robina requested.

The Rahway Valley Rails-to-Trails venture acquired $1.5 million in federal funds to convert the outdated rail line right into a multi-use trail for pedestrians and cyclists.

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jackie roman may be connected to jroman@njadvancemedia.com.

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