Reconnecting to the River (NJ Route 29)
The City of Trenton is a riverfront city that runs for 5.5 miles along the Delaware River. Of those 5.5 miles, the majority of the riverfront is inaccessible to the city’s 90,000 residents. The major barrier to the river is NJ Route 29, which runs along the City’s riverfront and cuts public access from the city. This road was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s as a limited access, high-speed highway despite the opposition of residents, destroying a major riverfront park. The highway construction, coupled with a federally-funded urban renewal project, helped decimate a diverse and mixed-use neighborhood and the city’s riverfront, setting the stage for long-term population decline and poverty in Trenton.
For several decades, community members have expressed and documented within plans the desire to reconnect to the river, reestablish a riverfront community and park, and convert NJ Route 29 to a boulevard.
The Reconnecting Communities Pilot Grant program offered by the U.S. Department of Transportation was developed to address this very issue – reconnect communities that are cut off from assets and economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure.
Mercer County, in partnership with State agencies and the City of Trenton, is applying for these planning funds to overcome the many years of lost parkland, lost public riverfront access, lost economic development opportunities, lost quality of life, and lost public trust in government. This concept development and public engagement process will build upon and align with the objectives of previous planning efforts to restore community and downtown connectivity to the river, open up economic development opportunities, create an expanded riverfront park as an urban oasis, address ongoing flooding problems, connect to our regional trail system, and re-establish a community with the traditional street grid. This effort will also help the city overcome future challenges such as sea-level rise and increasing storms. Numerous scientific studies over the past ten years have shown how access to water bodies improves public health and well-being. This research demonstrates that the riverfront access provided by the Route 29 Boulevard project should help to reduce stress levels, improve mental health, and potentially even lower crime rates in Trenton.
The project will include a strong public engagement component to ensure that the outcome of a final riverfront concept will be by and for Trenton’s existing community. It will include an equity analysis, a resiliency analysis incorporating climate impact projections, and a concept plan for a riverfront park with activities and recreation, public art and performances, public events, and passive natural engagement that will act as both a regional destination and place for community building.
We need your support. To sign the Community Letter of Support for the USDOT Grant application – go here.
An Informational Meeting on the Grant Application will be held Thursday, October 6th @ 6pm. Here’s the link to access the meeting. If you cannot make this meeting, a recording will be provided on this page after the meeting.
Urban Renewal Presentation
Presentation to the Trenton Planning Board on civic actors in Trenton, NJ who opposed urban renewal projects in the City of Trenton during the 1950s and 60s. This talk highlighted the interconnectedness of a so-called “divided” community and its protests of three devastating urban renewal projects, one of which was the construction of NJ Route 29.
Existing Plans and Studies