The NJTPA recently completed the Morris Canal Greenway Corridor Study, which identifies the route for a continuous 111-mile pedestrian and bicycle trail from the Delaware River in Warren County to the Hudson River in Hudson County.
The study, which is available at MorrisCanalGreenway.org, identifies 38 miles of existing trails and recommends 76 projects that would connect municipalities in six counties, stretching from Phillipsburg to Jersey City once completed. The greenway would follow the route of the historic canal as closely as possible, though some deviations are necessary to get around developments and major roadways. While several counties have conducted Morris Canal studies in the past, this is the first to provide a comprehensive region-wide plan for the full greenway.
“This trail will provide visitors with an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the important role the canal played in our state’s history,” Union County Freeholder Angel Estrada, Chair of the NJTPA Board of Trustees said at the Sept. 10 Board meeting. “As it expands, the greenway will serve as a regional destination, attracting tourists and helping boost local economies.”
The Morris Canal was built from 1825 to 1831 to transport Pennsylvania coal to markets in New Jersey and New York. Known as the “Mountain Climbing Canal,” it overcame an elevation change of 1,674 feet over the entire northern part of New Jersey through a system of 23 lift locks and 23 inclined planes, which allowed boats to be raised or lowered up to 100 feet at a time. This feature alone makes the Morris Canal a national engineering marvel.
The study identifies short- and medium-term projects that could be completed within 10 years, ranging from signage installation and improvements to existing paths, to construction of new trail. There are also long-term projects, which could require property acquisition or significant construction, like installation of a bridge. Some of the projects identified in the plan already have funding secured, but others would be completed as additional resources become available. The study identifies temporary trail connections, using roadways or publicly owned land, to get around segments that will take longer and be more challenging to implement.
The study also includes design recommendations for urban, rural and suburban areas that recognize the unique landscape the canal traverses while ensuring the various segments are recognized as a connected corridor. It also recommends that a non-profit be formed to oversee the completion of the greenway and its maintenance in the future.
[September 10, 2018]