Middlesex Greenway Use and Access Plan

Middlesex County, New Jersey
New Jersey Health Impact Collaborative, Together North Jersey

The New Jersey Health Impact Collaborative recently completed an HIA in conjunction with preparation of a plan to increase use and access of a “rails-to-trails” greenway located in Central New Jersey. The recently opened 3.5 mile paved Middlesex Greenway runs through the towns of Edison, Metuchen, and Woodbridge in central New Jersey. The three towns, along with Middlesex County, owner of the trail property, worked together to develop a plan to increase use and access to the trail. The plan was funded by the Together North Jersey consortium with support from NJ TRANSIT using U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) dollars. Health impacts considered by the HIA included physical activity, safety and security, environmental exposures, social cohesion, and impacts on local business and economy.

The HIA offered a series of recommendations to inform the Middlesex County Parks and Recreation Department, including improving access and use for bicycles, considering bicycle and rollerblade rental stations, strategic siting of benches and picnic tables, added signage and connectivity, and improved lighting and fences, among others. The findings and recommendations of the HIA contributed to understanding impacts of the access plan on physical activity, safety, crime, social cohesion, environmental exposures and the local economy.

The HIA helped raise awareness around health and safety issues that can be addressed in future planning for increased use of the Greenway. Community members rallied around the positive health benefits and welcomed recommendations to mitigate potential negative outcomes.


The HIA team worked closely with the project consultant, who decided to incorporate some of the health and safety recommendations from the HIA directly into the main project report for maximum visibility. Recommendations to maximize positive health and safety aspects and minimize negative effects were built into the overall project plan that will be presented and adopted by Middlesex County later in 2014.Also, the HIA team participated fully in other events organized by the project consultant (kick-off meeting, open house event, etc.), including speaking on the agenda and providing information to local stakeholders through these mechanisms.
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HIA report

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At A Glance

Completion Date
2014, August
Built Environment
Organization Type
Educational Institution
Estimated Cost
6 months