NEWARK, NJ — Newark will institute a new parking tax to fund a walking bridge over the city, one of its largest pending capital projects based on New York City’s High Line Park, Mayor Ras Baraka announced during his State of the City address. 

The bridge will begin at Mulberry Commons Park and run above McCarter Highway, connect to Newark Penn Station and branch off into the Ironbound. Baraka said the project will be funded through a bill signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2019 allowing any municipality with 100,000 residents to levy a 3.5% parking tax for public and private facilities. 

“You will be able to leave Penn station and walk toward the center of the city or towards the city’s East Ward,” Baraka said. “It will connect two parts of our city and spur millions of dollars of development around it.” 

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Residents are exempt from the tax, revenue from which must go toward projects that improve pedestrian access to mass transit stations. Earlier this year, Jersey City passed an ordinance applying the tax to fund a light rail station near the Holland Tunnel. 

Once the tax is passed via ordinance, residents using short-term parking in Newark must apply to the city for a rebate to avoid the fees. Baraka said the tax funding will also create a new 150-bed homeless shelter, 100 units of transitional housing for families and 100 units using the first model for the chronically homeless. 

The city did not respond to comment regarding the projected cost of the walking bridge, which is being designed by Sage and Coombe, or the shelter units. By comparison, New York City’s High Line Park’s first section, which is open today, totaled $86.2 million and used a variety of funding sources. 

There was also no indication from the city as to when residents should expect the ordinance to go into effect or by what means they will have to apply for the rebate. 

Newark’s Chief Operating Officer, Natasha Rodgers, is overseeing the direction of the project. Allison Ladd, director of Economic and Housing Development, said the city has not yet selected a developer or a location for the shelters, but hopes to have those items in place by the end of 2020. There is currently no timeline, Ladd said. 

“The greatest part about (the bridge) is connectivity — connecting our neighborhood, connecting people, making our city walkable, which will also help us with both visitors and give people who live here a community,” she said.