Proposed Artwalk plans to breathe new life into the city, but when will it finally happen?

Trenton, the capital city of New Jersey, has long been known for its historical significance and political prominence. Yet, a new proposal is set to revitalize the city’s streetscape by infusing it with an artistic essence. The much-anticipated “Trenton Artwalk” is a visionary project that aims to transform ordinary urban paths into vibrant art-filled corridors. Envisioned as a celebration of creativity and a means to foster community engagement, the proposed Artwalk promises to enhance the cultural landscape of Trenton while strengthening the city’s identity for both residents and tourists.

When news broke last year that the Trenton Artwalk project secured $500,000 in funding  for lighting and murals along a pedestrian and bicycle passage between the Trenton Transit Center and downtown Trenton many people in the community were ecstatic. Those who have walked the pedestrian pathway along the Route 1/129 underpass know how uninviting and dangerous the experience can be. 

Trenton Artwalk projected vision

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Recently, there has been an online push from community members to find out the status of the approved project, with some critics wondering if the project will ever come to fruition.  The Trenton Journal recently spoke with organizers of the Artwalk project and can confirm that the project is just starting to get moving, but determining the hold up depends upon who you speak to. 

“In order for the Artwalk project to start the city of Trenton must engage NJDOT on Artworks behalf. Artworks cannot talk directly to NJDOT. Only the City of Trenton can start that conversation. The city has assigned us a representative. I’m happy to say that [on], July 18th Nikki Mosgrove will talk to NJDOT on our behalf armed with the information provided by the Artwalk grant manager Rafeya Khan,” said Craig Shofed, Artworks Managing Director.

The Trenton Artwalk Project is a proposed collaboration between Artworks, the City of Trenton, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation. This project is dedicated to improving and beautifying the pedestrian/cycling route between the Trenton Transit Center and Downtown Trenton. The “Artwalk Corridor” is the series of sidewalks, crosswalks and the Route 1 underpass between the train/light rail station and Stockton Street.

“There are certain stipulations by the Department of Transportation that only certain things can be used [in this project], certain lighting. We wanted to do a mosaic mural on the original call, because it holds up a little bit better and you can wash [it] off easily, but that’s harder to get past the Department of Transportation, because [the underpass] is a piece of infrastructure,” Artworks Public Projects Manager, Jonathan “Lank” Conner said. 

Current status of the underpass

“The Artwalk Project is a perfect example of what can happen when a wonderful local institution working with the city and federal government applies its expertise to improve Trenton for both local residents and neighbors from the area who come to Trenton to work and enjoy the Capital City,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Wastson Coleman back in August 2022 when she presented Artworks with a check for $500,000. 

Conner said that he hopes to get a call out for proposals by the fall and to have work started by summer 2024.  “Basically, because we are dealing with two government organizations, the city and the state, things don’t go as quickly as they can as it would if you had private funding and entirely a private organization.”

Sources have told the Trenton Journal that some of the Artwalk project delay stems from an impasse between City Hall and the New Jersey Department of Transit. Sources say that the New Jersey Department of Transportation hasn’t heard from city officials in around two years until recently. Additional sources have told us that the NJ Department of Transit will not approve of any design that involves lighting underneath the  underpass walkway or that involves a glass mosaic. 

In 2020, there was a petition created with the goal to obtain 1,000 signatures that urged residents to show their support and commitment to having a safe and pleasant walk from the Trenton Transit Center to downtown. The petition is addressed to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and NJDOT Commissoner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. To date the petition has garnered 575 signatures and is still open for the public to express their support of the project. 

The Trenton Journal has reached out to the NJ Department of Transit, who have not responded to us before we went to publication. Mayor Gusciora told us to “stay tuned” for more details as he was in a meeting with the Artwalk organizers when we reached out to him for a comment.


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