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Army Corps project revitalizes economy of New Jersey’s largest city

Published Nov. 12, 2020
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Completed portions of the Newark, New Jersey riverfront park.

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For over a century, the banks of the Passaic River in Newark, New Jersey have been abandoned because the shoreline was eroding and the river was filled with trash and contamination.

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Completed portions of the Newark, New Jersey riverfront park.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is constructing a new bulkhead along the Passaic River in Newark, New Jersey that will prevent the shoreline from eroding. This work is also laying the foundation for a new riverfront park.

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Newark's contractors, constructing a portion of the riverfront park where the Army Corps previously completed the bulkhead.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is constructing a new bulkhead along the Passaic River in Newark, New Jersey that will prevent the shoreline from eroding. This work is also laying the foundation for a new riverfront park.

For the first time in 100 years, the residents of Newark, New Jersey have access to their Passaic River waterfront. This is due in large part to a construction project being performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District that’s restoring the river bank with a new bulkhead wall designed to prevent the shoreline from eroding.

“It’s interesting that something as simple as a bulkhead can be the kickoff of a riverfront redevelopment project for the City of Newark, becoming a key feature in the revitalization of Newark’s Downtown,” said Jason Shea, project manager, New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For over a century, the banks of the Passaic River have been abandoned because the shoreline was eroding and the river was filled with trash and plagued with contamination from one of the state’s largest toxic waste sites.

The community has been wanting a riverfront park to revitalize the waterfront area and the work the Army Corps is doing is laying the foundation for their plans.

The Army Corps of Engineers in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the City of Newark is performing The Joseph G. Minish Passaic River Waterfront Park and Historic Area Project.

The project encompasses almost 2-miles and over 30-acres of land along the west bank of the Passaic River between Bridge and Brill Streets in Newark, New Jersey, the largest city in the state.

The Army Corps is overseeing the construction of 6,000 feet of new bulkhead along the river, which entails restoring 3,200 feet of riverbank, constructing a 9,200-foot waterfront walkway,  and creating landscaping using native plants. In addition, it’s also establishing park facilities, plazas, walking and biking paths, playgrounds, and baseball and soccer fields.

Shea said that revitalization work like this has proved successful in other cities, such as San Antonio, Texas, Chicago and Portland, Oregon, just to name a few. 

“The Newark waterfront is already starting to show redevelopments where work has been performed and also on the opposite side of the river in Harrison, New Jersey. These developments will have views of the waterfront park, rather than a rundown streambank with a dilapidated bulkhead, trapping trash and debris.  It’s a great example of how the benefits of this project are extending regionally, outside Newark City limits,” said Shea.

He added, “The park brings a welcoming feel to the area, leading to investments in commercial and residential properties.  It’s been great to see this happening over the past two decades in Newark.”

The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2023.