MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Construction has begun on the long-awaited New York Susquehanna & Western (NYS&W) Railway Bicycle and Pedestrian Shared Use Path, a 4.8 mile trail project spearheaded by Morris County to repurpose an abandoned stretch of railroad for a non-motorized recreational path from Pequannock Township to Wayne Township.
Brush clearing and preliminary work on lifting old rails began last week on the $20 million, federally-funded project which was initiated by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners to transform an old railroad bed into a recreational trail linking Morris and Passaic counties. The path of the project begins at River Drive in Pequannock near Route 23, connecting with the township’s Aquatic Park, and runs southward to Mountainview Boulevard near NJ Transit’s Mountain View rail station in Wayne.
Work is anticipated to be completed in 2024, and the project will eventually tie into Passaic County’s Morris Canal Greenway.
“This project has been eagerly anticipated by many people in the region, particularly in both Morris and Passaic counties, and we’re pleased that work is underway. This will provide another unique recreational opportunity for our residents, one that connects different greenways while providing bicyclists and hikers easy access to downtown amenities that are a short distance from this path,” said Director Tayfun Selen of the Morris County Board of County Commissioners.
The path has long been envisioned as a walking and biking route that will connect residents, commuters and visitors with parks, schools, libraries, businesses and transit facilities. The Morris County Office of Engineering and Transportation is overseeing the project and the Morris County Park Commission eventually will manage the 10-foot wide trail, which is similar in concept to the popular Traction Line in Morris County. That path runs from Morristown to Madison, and his heavily used by walkers, joggers and bicyclists.
The NYS&W Railway Bicycle and Pedestrian Path will be asphalt covered, and will be the first of its kind near the Route 23 corridor of Morris and Passaic counties.
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 for more than a decade on the tracks being lifted up in the coming days. The stretch had once been a commuter line and was later used as NYS&W’s Pompton Industrial Spur, serving freight customers along the path.
Parts of the southern section of the path, which will stretch south of Ryerson Road to Mountain View in Wayne, will be elevated through wetlands. The path will be separated from automobile traffic, although, there will be path crossings on streets along the corridor.