Thursday, January 18th, 2018
COUNTY PURCHASING ABANDONED NYS&W RAIL RIGHT OF WAY FOR LINEAR PARK
The Morris County Board of Freeholders has signed an agreement to purchase an abandoned 4.4-mile railroad right-of-way in Pequannock and Wayne from the New York Susquehanna and Western Railway for the creation of a long-planned recreation, hiking and biking trail that will connect to the NJ Transit Mountain View rail station.
The county governing board approved the $4.2 million agreement with NYS&W in late December, voting for it unanimously at the board’s Dec. 27 meeting. Federal funds are financing the project.
The new trail, which would be a total of 4.8 miles, would run from River Drive in Pequannock, near Route 23, connect to the township’s Aquatic Park, and extend into Wayne at Mt. View Boulevard, just a short distance from the train station. It eventually will tie into Passaic County’s Morris Canal Greenway.
The trail will be managed by the Morris County Park Commission. The anticipated 10-foot-wide trail will be similar to the Commission’s very popular Traction Line, which runs from Morristown to Madison, and gets heavy use by with walkers, joggers, and bicyclists.
“This will be an incredible new addition to the county park system for the northeast section of our county,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “It will offer great new recreational
opportunities, connecting parks and greenways, and also will offer a green commuter route to the NJ Transit trains, similar to what we now have with the Traction Line.’’
Pequannock Mayor Cathy Winterfield: “Pequannock is looking forward to the rail trail as a wonderful addition to our community. This trail will create a healthy recreation opportunity for our residents of all ages and bring a connectedness to other communities.
“We hope people will stop along the way to visit and enjoy the many amenities of Pequannock, such as our Historic Train Station and Martin Berry House, which dates to 1720.”
Wayne Township Mayor Chris Vergano: “I am so excited about the potential health benefits which the recreational trail will offer to our communities. It will provide a beautiful area where residents and their families can safely go biking, hiking or take a leisurely stroll, as well as connect to the mass transit system. It’s a win-win for all of our residents.’’
The new trail next has to be designed, leading to construction that should start late in 2018. The goal is to open still unnamed trail in 2019.
The asphalt trail would be the first of its kind in the Route 23 corridor region of Morris and Passaic counties, and has special appeal because it connects with mass transit.
It would be open to cyclists, strollers, and skaters, but motorized vehicles, such as dirt bikes, would be prohibited. Pequannock officials hope to post kiosks along the trail and throughout town, pointing bikers to downtown shopping and historic sites.
The idea for the bike path was conceived more than two decades ago by Pete Standish, a Pequannock resident and avid cyclist. When Standish died, he donated money to the township for the project.
Trains have not run on this section of track for more than a decade. NYS&Ws Pompton Industrial Spur used to serve freight customers along the abandoned portion of track that will now become a formal trail. There also once were commuter trains along that track, as evidenced by the historic rail station preserved in Pompton Plains.