• Lower Boonton to become the Essex-Hudson Greenway?

  • Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.
Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.

Moderators: lensovet, nick11a, Kaback9

  by Ken W2KB
ExCon90 wrote: Tue Nov 16, 2021 10:40 pm
Roadgeek Adam wrote: Tue Nov 16, 2021 12:17 pm The ROW has been encroached in multiple areas and torn out in others. WR Draw is in bad shape and welded shut as is. DB Draw is in the middle of a swamp.
Just wondering: have any of the proponents looked at the cost of making WR and DB suitable for pedestrians, joggers, bikes, etc.? And is there a worthwhile goal at the east end of DB, or would it just mean turn around and retrace your steps?
My understanding of several months ago viewing a trail organization presentation, is that WR does not require any significant repairs to the structure for trail use. No weight issues as would be the case with rail service, and the clearance above the river is sufficient for marine traffic so the bridge can remain permanently closed. The deck would be covered with a trail walking surface and railings. DB is not to be utilized by the trail as the cost to restore and maintain the bridge for marine traffic openings would be massive. Instead of using DB, the trail from the west would divert south at the western end of DB on the existing fill along the western bank of the Hackensack River, proceed under the existing elevated NJ Turnpike roadway to the Amtrak Portal Bridge and thence to Route 7. The trail would continue east as a sidewalk along Route 7, over the recently opened new Wittpenn Bridge into Jersey City and, potentially, as part of another project, to the Bergen Arches former rail right of way to the west bank of the Hudson River.
  by pumpers
Ken, thanks, this is pretty exciting. I've gone bike riding over the new Goethels bridge and the new Bayonne bridge, and am looking forward to this. Two comments/questions

1. Regarding the stretch along the Hackensack river, there is a more or less parallel route along what was the Erie spur to the now long gone (and cleaned up) Koppers plant just across the river from Jersey city and north of Wittpenn. The ROW is easily seen on maps north of the PRR to Portal. (It used to be a main Erie passenger route to a bridge just north of the current ex-Lackawanna bridge, to go to Long Dock tunnel until sometime in the late 1800s). WHere the PRR to NY goes overhead of the Erie, a few 100 feet SW of Portal, there is still the underpass for the Erie which seems to be accessible for walking. https://goo.gl/maps/ybJbKBWNMB5mjyUs6 Maybe they are already planning to use that for the trail to cross the PRR.
But all that area could be massively changed by the new Portal bridge alignments. - Did the meetings you were at show how/if the Portal project will change things?

2. I hope this project motivates Jersey City to finally clean up the Bergen Arches (which you note is part of the overall trail plan. ) Rightly or wrongly, I've been scared off so far from trying to ride through there.
  by Roadgeek Adam
I don't expect WR to ever open again. It has been years since anything big enough to require WR to open and they decided to weld it shut. I presume if there was something big enough to do it the USCG would've told them not to weld it shut. Not to mention back in the day they had to actually come over and undo the rail so WR could open period since the Erie found miter rail to be too expensive.

That being said, WR Draw is now 124 years old (DB is 132). I have to believe within the next 10 years a decision would have to be made on the status of the bridge. It looks pretty wore out on the outside, let alone what 124 years of wear and tear have probably done to the inside of the structure. I am genuinely concerned it is a hazard, and obviously would need to be retrofit with railings and probably a fence cause it would be a prime suicide attempt spot.

It will make a nice rail trail bridge, but I have to imagine there's going to be a question of WR Draw's survival in its current form. I doubt NS maintained it after Hartz Mountain closed (and pure speculation, I wonder if they ever TLCed it at all post NJ Transit). It may become a hazard sooner than later.
  by njtmnrrbuff
MaRoFu wrote:I agree with much of the sentiment in this thread that a trail was probably the best route for this ROW. There really wasn’t a lot of significant worth to restoring any rail service on this line.

On a slightly different subject, I’d love for them to also turn the remaining part of the Orange Branch into a trail that goes to the Silver Lake light rail station, with a stair to Franklin Avenue.
It would be nice to have a trail along the former Orange Branch connecting from the former Boonton Line to Franklin Ave. It would have to be secure. The neighborhood around Franklin Ave where the former Orange Branch is isn't the best.
  by Roadgeek Adam
njtmnrrbuff wrote: Wed Nov 17, 2021 7:30 pm
It would be nice to have a trail along the former Orange Branch connecting from the former Boonton Line to Franklin Ave. It would have to be secure. The neighborhood around Franklin Ave where the former Orange Branch is isn't the best.
That is not a justified reason. Using the neighborhood as an excuse is a very poor choice. My main concern would be making sure that the walkway doesn't walk into the ROW where they could be hit by a train.
  by Maverickstation1
WR is and has been in pretty bad shape for a long time now. Freight Trains stopped using it effective with "Conrail Day" (4/1/1976), and in the final years of commuter service the bridge was used on an exception basis as the structure was considered in condemned status, commuters train had crawl over it at 10 mph.

As one of the more recent "trespasser" recordings of the lower Boonton line shows, the CWR on WR has been cut in the places were the bridge used too open. At one point there was an attempt made to open the bridge to satisfy angry residents of Kearny who companied the bridge was being used by potential thieves, and there was justification for this. Today local residents will call the policy if anyone is seen on WR. The bridge has also been sinking, so using it for a rail trail would require a lot more than just placing a deck along it.

The link below shows a walking tour on the Lower Boonton including spots where the ROW has been turned over to businesses, including a section of the Newark Branch.


Ken A.