Middlesex County News

Rutgers ​Plans New Chapter for New Brunswick's Riverfront

5f6464f92bbd71e4914d_Raritan-River-Awards-580x385.jpg
Credits: Rutgers Office of Communications and Marketing
5f6464f92bbd71e4914d_Raritan-River-Awards-580x385.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - For decades, the remaking of New Brunswick's riverfront has been a tug of war between historical and environmental conservationist​s​ on the one hand, and developers and city officials on the other.

The 2030 physical master plan for Rutgers University has ignited a potentially new chapter for the city's relationship with ​its ​river, in the​ ongoing​ efforts to reclaim the ​banks of the Old Raritan.

Following the expansion of Route 18 through New Brunswick, much of the city was cut off from the riverfront. This hadn't always been so.

Sign Up for E-News

A century ago, New Brunswick was a teeming port, a major stop along the Delaware & Raritan Canal, ​a critical connection ​between the East Coast ​with the Delaware River

As many as 200 tugboats would travel through the canal, according to the NJ Department of Transportation's Route 18 overview.

As for the city’s waterfront, docks and wharves lined the shore and factories pushed up against it. The Albany Street Bridge, as it headed into New Brunswick, met the teeming Hiram Market District, which makes up the city’s present-day Ward 2.



The New Brunswick downtown, with the Albany Street Bridge center left. Credit: Rutgers University 

But the canal closed in 1932, according to the NJDOT. Following the Second World War, New Brunswick underwent ​"​white flight,​"​ like many urban areas across ​New Jersey.

The city’s white, middle-class population, numbering in the thousands, ​moved to the ​fast-growing ​ suburbs, and the canal fell into disrepair.

Through the 1970’s, Route 18 was expanded up to the Albany Street bridge, burying large swathes of the canal under it. The Burnet Street neighborhood, then residential, became a spur of Route 18 south, allowing motorists to exit onto New Street and Commercial Avenue.

Hiram Square, by the 1970s, had also seen an economic downturn. Buildings fell into disuse and disrepair. Apartments, sometimes with only one or two bedrooms, would have upwards of a dozen residents crammed into them.

​Then, city officials launched what would become an historic and lasting redevelopment project, still evident and ongoing.​

Over the course of the ​1980s and 1990s, large chunks of Hiram Square were razed to make way for the Hyatt Regency Hotel, a ​massive modern building for the John​son​ & Johnson headquarters, and a collection of luxury apartments: all part of the auspicious redevelopment project by New Brunswick ​T​omorrow.

The Burnet Street neighborhood and abounded canal, taken from the Class of 1914 Boathouse. Credit: Rutgers University 

 A key was to tear down low-income high rises and replace the units with low-rise townhouse communities as part of a landmark Hope VI grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, awarded in the 1990s.​

Today, New Brunswick’s waterfront has ​signs of many successes

In 1999, the city opened Boyd Park, which turned several of the abandoned canals into bike paths which line up against the shore.

The $11 million park also provides fishing, an outdoor amphitheater, several docks and boat-launching points, and plays host to the Raritan River Festival every September. There’s also the starting point for the D&R Trail, which begins at the Landing Lane Brid​g​e.

​Comprising portions of the former canal converted into a bike path, the D&R Canal runs alongside the Raritan River for several miles into Somerset County. Yet these two points are difficult to access by car.

In November 2017, the city released it’s Municipal Access Plan, which looks at just how New Brunswick can further reclaim the riverfront through working with the ​university's ​2030 physical master plan.

The waterfront is zoned for conservation, and as such, the plan looks at how the city could u​se​ the ​treasured ​shore for recreational use.

In 2018, the university, according to Rutgers spokesperson Neal Buccino,​is hoping to work with the city on “improvements for open space and parkland along with Raritan River.”

The Rutgers 2030 Physical Master Plan, Credit: City of New Brunswick 

​T​he plan calls for a boardwalk that would stretch from the Class of 1914 Rutgers Boathouse by Boyd Park, all the way to the Route 27 bridge which traverses the Raritan River.

The boardwalk would hug the shore of the Raritan River, all the way to the start of the D&R Trail. There would be various access points through the city to get to the boardwalk.

On the College Avenue Campus, the university w​ould​ center around a large “heart of campus” quad, stretching from the College Avenue Gym to the Raritan River.

That would entail the demolition of the College Avenue Student Center, the Brower ​Commons dining ​h​all, the Student Activities Center, campus power plant and Records Hall, which contains a computer lab, post office and administrative officers.

At the edge of the quad would be a “transit hub,” with two pedestrian bridges spanning George Street. Going past the hub, students could traverse a serpentine bike path over the river and to Livingston Campus, through the ecological preserve.

​The project is ​now ​in its first phase, planning and design, which runs its course until 2020. Feasibility studies on the ​proposed ​Raritan River boardwalk and bike path will continue during this phase; actual construction is potentially decades off.

I want to ride my bicycle

A large chunk of the city’s access to the Raritan River was cut off in the 1980s, with the extension of Route 18 past the Albany Street Bridge, over George Street and then over the river by way of the John A. Lynch Sr. Memorial Bridge.

In response, the city and NJDOT constructed the Route 18 Trench Bikeway, a 1.4 mile blacktop bike path connecting the Albany Street Bridge and Landing Lane Bridge, according to the city’s municipal access plan.

On the river side, the path is flanked by a tall chain link fence, and on the Route 18 side, by a tall concrete wall.

You might notice the entranceway to the path as you travel south on Route 27 into New Brunswick; it’s the colorful graffiti mural on the ramp connecting Route 18 North and Route 27 South.

As the municipal access plan points out, the path is poorly lit and heavily wooded, difficult to see ahead due to poor sightlines and and the paths gradual curve.

The area occasionally has homeless encampments​. T​raveling along the paths, you’d find traces of the encampments: sleeping bags, shopping carts and tents. Graffiti lines the walls, while litter and weeds cake the footpath.

Access points to the trail are set up along Deiner Park, which was built in conjunction with the bike path. It was constructed and then maintained by the ​state​ Department of Transportation, and is now maintained by Rutgers​ University.​

At most, the park is u​sed​ by students for the basketball and tennis courts. Entranceways connecting the park and the trail are gated and locked, and not handicap accessible.

Rutgers​ University's​ proposed boardwalk would ​replace the bike path, according to the master plan.

Editor Daniel J. Munoz, dmunoz@tapinto.nettwitter.com/DanielMunoz100

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_1c276bd64c2e4971fc53_childrens_library_2-18

Thu, February 22, 3:30 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Family Movie: Hidden Figures

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_9d8e453cf3136a3d0129_rec_2017_hw_helper

Thu, February 22, 4:00 PM

Hannah Atkins Community Center, Plainfield

Homework Helper

Education

Fri, February 23, 8:30 AM

Honor Ridge Academy, Clark

Workshop for Parents & Educators: Reducing ...

Education Giving Back

Grab the Family and Head to a Very Special Read Across America Event

February 21, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Children and parents won’t want to miss this special event. The Union County Education Association ( UCEA)  is hosting a Read Across America Pride event open to all.   Read Across America is a national event to promote reading to every child in every community.   It is celebrated in conjunction with the famous children’s ...

The Definition of Insanity

February 21, 2018

There is a quote, attributed to various people, including Albert Einstein that states, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”, that is fitting for our current election for Union County Democratic Committee (UCDC) chair.

There is no shortage of polling data related to the functioning of our Federal, State and Local ...

Cops Called for Two People Shouting Racial Slurs During ‘Black Panther’ in Sparta

February 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night after a drunken woman and her boyfriend interrupted a screening of the movie “Black Panther” by shouting racial slurs, according to a witness and police.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including ...

Plainfield ofrece vacunas gratuitas para personas sin seguro o con seguro insuficiente

February 21, 2018

PLAINFIELD, NJ - La Ciudad de Plainfield ofrece vacunas gratuitas para quienes no tienen seguro o están asegurados.

El programa está patrocinado por el Departamento de Salud de Nueva Jersey y el Programa de Vacunas para Niños (VFC). Las vacunas están disponibles los martes de 1 a 5 p.m. y los jueves de 9 a.m. a 1 p.m. en el Edificio Anexo del Ayuntamiento, 510 ...

¡HOPES CAP, Inc. Ofrece Preparacion de Impuestos GRATIS en su Communidad!

PLAINFIELD, NJ - ¡HOPES CAP, Inc. Ofrece Preparacion de Impuestos GRATIS en su Communidad!

Los servicios estarán disponible en los siguientes lugares:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habrá disponible ayuda con la aplicación para números de ITIN y también habrá Auto
Preparación de ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 15, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...

Rapps Pharmacy: What You Need To Know About The Flu

There seems to be no end in sight for the current flu season which has touched every part of the country, and right here in New Jersey.  Rapps Pharmacy, an independent, full service, and locally owned Plainfield neighborhood pharmacy, offers these tips:  

As influenza virus activity increases and is likely to continue circulating for upcoming weeks, the Centers for Disease Control ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper with Danny Pellegrino (St. Martin's Press, 2017)

It's hard to go on a serious diet, one on which you expect to be successful and maintain a loss. Fortunately, in his new book Super Carb Diet, Bob Harper has given the weight watching world a sensible new diet plan to help achieve a healthy weight.

Harper, host of NBC's popular show The Biggest Loser, ...

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs (Bantom,2017)

How does a writer of a beloved series like Harry Potter or Temperance Brennan break out of their readers' expectations and try something new? For J.K. Rowlings it was the novels penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith; books about a maimed and very flawed private detective with the unlikely name of Cormoran Strike. For Kathy Reichs, it is the ...

Drama by Raina Telgemeir

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic, 2012) (target audience, Young Adults)

 

When my daughter, Shauna, was six years old, we took her to see her first Broadway production; a revival of The Wiz starring Stephanie Mills. I knew that it was the last time Mills could get away with playing Dorothy, and I impressed upon Shauna that seeing this show was a special moment in her life. As a ...

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory (Touchstone, 2017)

Yesterday my cousin, the daughter of my mother's sister, called me from California where she lives, and hit me up for money. This is not the first time she has asked me for money, and not the last, I am sure. She grew up the daughter of a privileged family and cruised to Europe frequently when she was a child. Her wardrobe came from ...

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb (Atria Books, 2017)

 

Sharyn McCrumb is, quite simply, an American gem, and one of my favorite authors. From her books set in Appalachia with strange characters who remind us of our pioneer past, to St. Dale, a masterpiece about the legendary car racer, Dale Earnhardt in McCrumb's NASCAR series, McCrumb's poetic language and attention to ...

Maisie Dobbs by Jacquelline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Press, 2003)

In the song “The Schuyler Sisters” from the Broadway musical Hamilton, sister Angelica sings, “ I've been reading 'Common Sense' by Thomas Paine. So men say that I'm intense or I'm insane, You want a revolution? I wanna a revelation . . .” because she and her sisters are “looking for a mind ...