New Jersey leading the way in developing green transportation network

Cross-posting from the Dodge Foundation blog here.

The East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile network of multi-use paths from the Maine border with Canada to Key West, Florida, was just a dream 15 short years ago. Now, thanks to leading states like New Jersey, a corridor for walkers, joggers, bicyclists and the like connects cities and communities throughout the East Coast.

An “urban Appalachian Trail,”the East Coast Greenway provides both a green recreational network and a low-cost daily commuter path between neighborhoods, workplaces, landmarks, and schools. The project’s leading advocate is the East Coast Greenway Alliance, a long-time partner of the Dodge Foundation. The Alliance plans to move its headquarters to New Jersey in the coming year while maintaining regional staff situated within New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the South. On top of its four and a half staff, the Alliance has a base of over 8,000 members and volunteers — many of whom live throughout the Garden State.

The past year has brought record growth for the East Coast Greenway’s (ECG) trails, adding over 100 miles or 20%. Thanks to such growth, the ECG is already 26% off-road, separated from car traffic. We aim to, over the next decade, upgrade the safety and accessibility of the remaining 74% (on-road portion) of the 3,000 miles by fully signing it and either converting it to off-road trail or integrating bike lanes, wide shoulders and other amenities.

New Jersey is setting the bar high for other states. Our state is the most developed in terms of signage – over 90 miles of signs mark the East Coast Greenway between the Delaware River and the Hudson River.  And New Jersey is one of the three states among our fifteen whose route is at least 50% off-road greenway. We also host the second longest stretch of continuous greenway on the ECG, 35 miles of the beautiful D&R canal towpath from Trenton to New Brunswick.

We host many group walks and bike rides on our New Jersey sections, like the lovely Princeton-Trenton loop ride this past summer. Regional elected leaders joined the 75-person ride as we celebrated 1.5 new miles of greenway through Trenton. This was one of several events we host every year along the ECG corridor to laud route progress and raise public awareness of this resource enhancing the livability of our communities. New Jersey activity is led by a strong volunteer committee that works alongside ECGA Mid-Atlantic Coordinator Michael Oliva (farthest to the right in the picture).

And East Coast Greenway progress throughout New Jersey would not be possible without our solid partnerships with regional foundations, municipal and state government, and area nonprofits. Next week, Michael Oliva will share a blog with more details on these collaborations and the outstanding progress they are making throughout the Garden State.

Onward to a Sustainable & Healthy New Jersey,

Dennis Markatos-Soriano of Princeton, Executive Director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance