PEQUANNOCK TOWNSHIP, NJ (Morris County) – The Morris County Board of Freeholders, in a unanimous vote, has authorized county purchasing officials to move ahead on the bidding process for construction of a Pequannock-to-Wayne pedestrian and bike path that would run along an abandoned New York Susquehanna and Western Railway rail bed.
The bid process will begin once funding is authorized by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The county anticipates submitting final project plans and specifications required for that authorization to NJ DOT this month. Formal bidding and construction are expected to take place in 2021.
The county is purchasing an abandoned 5-mile rail right-of-way in Pequannock and Wayne from NYS&W for creation of a long-planned recreation, hiking and biking trail. The federal government is financing the $20 million project.
The new trail 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 NJ Transit Mountain View rail 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.
“We look forward to this new addition to our county park system which will offer new recreational opportunities for residents of the northeast section of our county,’’ Morris County Freeholder Stephen Shaw said. “It will connect parks and greenways, and will offer a green commuter route to the NJ Transit trains, making it similar to the very popular Traction Line in Morris Township and Madison.’’
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. 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.
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.