Could the key to revitalizing Trenton, NJ be reconfiguring a highway?
TRENTON — Municipal officials are trying to rally support for a plan to reconfigure Route 29 in one downtown section of the city.
According to Mayor Reed Gusciora, the area between the Route 29 tunnel and the Statehouse, which is currently a multi-lane highway running in both directions, cuts the city off from the Delaware Riverfront.
He said the Biden administration’s Reconnecting Communities program could provide federal funding “to move the highway inward so that Trenton could indeed recapture its waterfront.”
He said what the city wants to do with Route 29 is “change it to a boulevard in front of the Statehouse and behind the Hughes Justice complex and loop it back to where the tunnel is.”
Create an entertainment district
He said doing this would create “a new swath of land where you could do mixed-use housing, bring commercial activity and really create an entertainment district that would attract visitors and bring economic opportunities to Trenton.”
“As long as there’s a state highway that cuts off Trenton’s access to its waterfront, we’re not going to be able to use that strip of land for our economic revitalization.”
He said when Route 29 was built in the 1960s right next to the Delaware River, it was a case of “bad urban planning because it cut off the community from a wonderful section of waterfront land.”
This could be great
He pointed out in cities like Baltimore and Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the waterfront has been reclaimed, it has spurred economic development
Gusciora said closer to home, what has happened in New Hope and Lambertville is a good example of how developing the waterfront can revitalize an area and generate economic activity.
“The same thing can happen in the Capital City, and especially since we’re about to celebrate America’s 250 (anniversary in 2026) it could be part of the economic tourism that we hope to generate.”
What happens next?
He said Trenton is working to get support from the governor’s office, the state treasurer and the Department of Transportation in order to be able to apply for federal funding.
“It would be hundreds of millions of dollars but we think it’s well worth the effort to help in Trenton’s revitalization,” he said.