Regardless of your feelings on the well-traveled route, every Trentonian has encountered Route 29 at one point or another. The road is a gateway to our City, helping locals and visitors get to where they need to go. However, over the years, the design of Route 29 has received some criticism, namely that the roadway’s design disconnects travelers from the heart of Downtown Trenton. Prior to its modern iteration, the land which Route 29 currently occupies was at one time a bustling park, enriching the community with access to nature, the river, and beyond. However, this would all begin to change in the 1950s.
When Route 29 was proposed, the vision for the roadway was a limited-access, high-speed highway. Despite contestation from community members, the project went ahead, resulting in lost access and ushering in an era of long-term population decline. Ever since the roadway was initially completed, residents of Trenton have been voicing their concerns and demanding that the land be restored to serve its community better. Finally, after years of anticipation, the City of Trenton is taking action and exploring how this space can be transformed and restored to its former glory.
City Hall recently announced that Trenton would receive a $1.016 million planning grant to Mercer County to evaluate concepts for re-designing Route 29 in the Capital City. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) has approved the funding from Surface Transportation Block Grant Funds to support local concept development for the boulevard project, which Mercer County will manage.
Per Mayor W. Reed Gusciora, “I’m so thankful to Governor Phil Murphy, State Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio, and Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti for supporting federal funding for the Route 29 realignment project,” said Gusciora. “We are also grateful to our county partners, including County Executive Brian M. Hughes and Deputy Administrator Aaron T. Watson, for their willingness to manage this visionary project, which we look forward to further collaborating on. My administration is committed to fixing past mistakes in urban planning that cut off the City’s access to the waterfront along the Delaware River. It’s a project that we have long prioritized for economic development opportunities in Trenton.”
This past April, Mayor Gusciora, alongside Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman and Mercer County Deputy Administrator for Transportation and Infrastructure Aaron T. Watson, met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg at the Trenton-Mercer Airport to discuss Route 29 Boulevard as well as some of the City’s other high-priority projects.
“This planning grant will enable us to study the redesign of Route 29 so that the City can capture more waterfront for development,” said Gusciora. “It will be a monumental game changer for Trenton’s economic future.” Concluding, he noted, “When Route 29 was built, one of the most prominent parks in the City was demolished, and our access to the waterfront was diminished. Today, we start back on the road to correct mistakes of the past.”
Although it might be hard to envision it now, with just a bit of strategic planning and support along the way, Trenton now has the opportunity to bring some truly meaningful improvements to one of the City’s busiest districts. There’s no time like the present to correct the missteps of the past, and this grant is a critical first step towards a better, more vibrant Trenton for all.
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