TRENTON—Construction will begin on a pathway that will complete the 70-mile trail running along the Delaware & Raritan Canal from Frenchtown to New Brunswick, Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello announced Tuesday.
“This unique public-private partnership will open an area previously inaccessible to outdoor enthusiasts,” Mauriello said. “This final stretch will allow cyclists, joggers and walkers to enjoy a scenic route through Trenton.”
The $400,000 project will be funded by capital-improvement dollars dedicated for projects in state parks, forests and wildlife management areas. Clearing of the site, which is the first step in the path construction, will begin soon.
“Projects that promote alternative forms of transportation that provide opportunities for biking, walking and hiking are important,” DOT Commissioner Stephen Dilts said. “DOT is happy to be a partner in this project as the missing link in this popular recreation corridor is able to be completed.”
Currently, the Delaware & Raritan Canal path in Trenton ends at Old Rose Street and then continues approximately 1.5 miles north on Mulberry Street. Because there is no defined route that allows access between those two streets, cyclists and pedestrians have long urged the DEP, the City of Trenton and Mercer County to bridge the trail’s only gap, a section buried during construction of Route 1.
“Completing this missing link is a significant moment in the storied history of the D&R Canal,” Congressman Rush Holt (NJ-12th District) said. “For a state as densely populated as New Jersey to have a 70-mile uninterrupted path for biking, nature hikes and recreation is remarkable.”
The easement along the D&R Canal in this area was owned by Conrail. As a result of negotiations, Conrail agreed to release its easement on 12 acres and to convey two small parcels to the state so that the trail project can go forward. Conrail will be able to continue rail operations on its remaining property.
The D&R Canal State Park is one of the state’s most significant historic and recreational resources. The canal was built across central New Jersey in the early 19th century to provide a fast, safe route to transport freight between Philadelphia and New York City.
Built primarily by Irish laborers, the canal was mostly dug by hand. The canal is 70 miles long, 50 feet to 75 feet wide and 6 feet to 7 feet deep. Not only is the D&R State Park a popular destination for canoeing, bicycling, jogging, fishing and horseback riding, the canal serves as a clean drinking water source for more than 1 million New Jersey residents.
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