The first phase of the Middlesex County Greenway is almost complete.
Construction on the first phase of the Middlesex County Greenway is almost complete. This part of the Greenway will be a 3.6 mile long paved multi-use recreational trail for walking, running and biking. It occupies the route of the old Lehigh Valley Railroad. Originally the Easton and Amboy Railroad, it was completed from Easton, PA to Perth Amboy, NJ around 1875 and operated for about 100 years.
The first phase of the Greenway extends in a continuous route from its western end at Middlesex Avenue in Metuchen (across from the old Cryan’s site and the Fulton Bank), through the center of Metuchen and the Clara Barton neighborhood of Edison, to its eastern end at Crows Mill Road in Woodbridge. The trail crosses over Route 1 on a new pedestrian and bike bridge near Pierson Avenue, behind Tano Mall.
Middlesex County hired builder Flanagan’s Contracting Group, Inc. of Hillsborough, N.J. and construction engineers CME Associates of Parlin, N.J. Starting in late November, 2010, Flanagan’s cleared weeds and debris, dug out ditches, installed pipes and catch basins, covered the surface with geotextile fabric and crushed stone and paved an asphalt path ten feet wide. The Greenway is a vast improvement on the old abandoned rail line – it’s free of mud, weeds
The first phase of the Greenway has 12 access points: at Middlesex Avenue, Memorial Parkway, Rose Street, Main Street and Green Street in Metuchen; Pierson Avenue, Jackson Avenue, Liddle Avenue, Woodbridge Avenue and Wolff Avenue in Edison; and Raymond Street and the Hillside Apartments in Woodbridge. A water line must be moved at Wolff Avenue, and Main Street will connect to the Greenway with a new staircase. The new gateways will include signs and contrasting pavement, with signposts along the way. The finishing touches along the Greenway will include beautiful landscaping.
The project will be completed within two years. Flanagan’s estimates it will complete all work by late Spring. Middlesex County has not yet announced its plans for officially opening the Greenway. So please remember that it remains an active construction site until its completion. Kindly exercise particular caution around any heavy equipment, whether moving or parked.
The public response to the Greenway has been very enthusiastic; in fact, the trail has been busy with walkers, runners and bicyclists from the very start. The Borough of Metuchen has responded to the popular interest in this healthy local amenity by preparing a plan to extend the Greenway. The second phase will extend the Greenway over Middlesex Avenue, through to the northwest corner of town behind St. Joseph’s High School and into Edison, and may also include trails in the woods of the Dismal Swamp.
The Greenway extension will facilitate access to the Dismal Swamp, a natural area that is the headwaters of the Bound Brook. The extension will offer opportunities for quick local access to nature and to enhance the wooded wetlands and streams that remain largely hidden from public view to the north and west of the old railroad right-of-way. The Dismal Swamp is certainly not dismal! It is a large area of wooded wetlands that presents oppor-tunities for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, bird watching and general exploring.
The Borough Planner and Environmental Commission planned the extension under a grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, with matching funds from the Borough and developers of two former vacant sites nearby. The Borough has adopted the plan, and its presentation was received favorably by the County Transportation Committee over the summer. The Borough continues to advocate for the extension. Visit www.metuchennj.org to see the plan.
People who have helped advance this project include the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Middlesex County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Borough of Metuchen and its Environmental Commission, the Middlesex Greenway Coalition and the Edison Wetlands Association, and of course Flanagan and CME. In addition, the offices of Senator Lautenberg and Representative Pallone have expressed interest in facilitating transfer of an easement to the unused rail bed for the Greenway extension from Conrail to Middlesex County.
For additional information or questions regarding the Greenway, please contact Ralph Albanir, Director of Parks and Recreation at (732) 745-3995, the Middlesex County Office of the County Engineer, or David Coats of CME Associates at (732) 727-8000, or the offices of Senator Lautenberg at (973) 639-8700 or Representative Pallone at (732) 249-8892. The Metuchen Environmental Commission will work with the Borough, Middlesex County, the Metuchen Recreation Commission and other interested parties and public officials to organize a special event to showcase the Greenway and discuss plans for the Greenway extension.