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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Footbridge

  • Overview
  • Freshwater Wetlands
  • Flood Hazard
  • Coastal
  • Tidelands

Footbridges are typically found as part of a trail system, either public or private, and are most often intended to span a stream or other waterway. Occasionally however, they will be constructed to span a dry gulch or ravine.

Activities, including the construction of a Footbridge, which may disturb special areas of the State that are regulated by the Department, may require an approval from the Division prior to construction. An area containing sensitive and endangered plant species for example, may be irreparably damaged by such activities. It is important therefore to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas which may be impacted.

A Footbridge may require multiple approvals from the Division, depending on the special areas impacted by the project. If you don't know what special areas are on your site, please check out the before you buy, before you build section of this website for guidance on determining if your site has one of these regulated special areas on it.

For information on Land Use permit requirements for a Footbridge within specific "special areas", please click on each of the tabs above.*

*For impacts to Streams, Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, Flood Plains, Flood Way, Riparian Zones and other water body related areas, please click on the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please click on the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, click on the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab. Information on Tidelands can be found in the "Tidelands" tab.

 

The construction of a Footbridge within freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters requires a Freshwater Wetlands (FWW) permit. Two FWW General Permits (GP) are available for this activity, a GP17 and a GP17A. To be eligible for a GP17 or a GP17A, the total area of freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters disturbed cannot exceed one quarter acre unless the project is on a publicly owned site in which case there is no limit to the length of the activity.

There are specific design criteria for foot bridges within State regulated areas, but these design criteria differ slightly depending on the activity.

General permit 17--Trails and boardwalks is primarily for "...pedestrians, bicycles, and other non-motorized methods of transport". There is a limit on the width of 6', along with other restrictions. Please click on the link above for more information.

General permit 17A—Non-Motorized, Multiple-use Paths is primarily for "...non-motorized, multiple use path for use by bicycles, skate boards, rollerblades and other non-motorized methods of transport." Criteria for approval is a bit different then for the GP17, and must be designed in accordance with the "AASHTO" guide. Please click on the link above for more information.

If the project for a trail, boardwalk and/or bike path cannot comply with the criteria for a GP-17 and/or a GP17A, the applicant would need to apply for an Individual Permit (IP). An IP application would need to include a description as to why the project cannot be minimized to satisfy the General Permit criteria described in the links above.

The construction of a footbridge in a regulated area requires authorization of some type under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules.  This depends upon whether or not the project area is regulated under the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) rules.  Specifically, if regulated under CZM, then no separate flood hazard approval is required.  In this case, the applicant need only submit a report and plans demonstrating compliance with the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules as part of the CZM permit application. 

Assuming there is no jurisdiction under CZM, authorization may be granted under a Flood Hazard Area General Permit 9, as described at N.J.A.C. 7:13-8.11.  Here, the General Permit only authorizes a footbridge over a stream.  However, it is important to note that the size of the stream’s watershed is less than 50 acres.  Please note that this limitation refers to the size of the watershed and not the size of the property upon which the footbridge would be located.

There are no Flood Hazard Permit by Rules available to permit the construction of a foot bridge. 

Should the project not be eligible under the aforementioned Flood Hazard Area General Permit 9, and should the project not be regulated under CZM, then the applicant must obtain a formal, written flood hazard area verification and individual permit prior to construction. The technical standards are described in Subchapters 9, 10 and 11 of the Rules.

The construction of a foot bridge within CAFRA or Waterfront Development jurisdiction or within mapped coastal wetlands generally requires a permit.  Footbridges are often part of the construction of a path or trail and may be reviewed in conjunction with that project, possibly under a coastal general permit.  If the project does not meet the requirements of the general permit discussed below, a Waterfront Development or CAFRA Individual permit may be required.  The proposed construction of a foot bridge which will disturb mapped coastal wetlands will require a Coastal Wetlands permit.  

Please refer to the “Jurisdiction” section of the "Coastal Permitting" section of the website to determine which areas regulated under the Coastal Permit Program Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7-1.1 et seq.) and the Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq.) occur on your site. The availability of certain permits and exemptions for a project depend on where your project is proposed.

This general permit may apply to your project --

  • Coastal General Permit 17  authorizes the construction of recreational facilities at public parks such as the construction of paths and trails, including foot bridges provided it meets the requirements of this general permit.  For further information regarding the requirements of this general permit, please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.17

Additional information regarding the Division’s coastal program can be found on the “Coastal Permitting” section of this website.  If necessary, please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center for further assistance.

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all those lands now or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway; that is to say any land that is currently or was previously covered by tidal waters.  The State of New Jersey, and therefore the people of New Jersey, owns all Tidelands except for those to which it has already sold its interest in the form of a riparian grant.  It is important to note that the State generally does not own artificial waterways such as lagoons however, the State does claim those lands within a lagoon that were flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway which existed prior to the creation of the lagoon.

A foot bridge that is proposed in a tidelands area may require a tidelands license if the activities are taking place at or below the mean high water line of a tidal waterway or a tidelands grant if any portion of the activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide.

A tidelands license is a short term revocable rental document to use tidelands generally for structures such as docks, bulkhead extensions, mooring piles, and other temporary structures as well as for dredging projects. Licenses are project specific and expire after a finite term ranging from one to ten years. Most licenses may be renewed.

A riparian grant, or tidelands grant, is a deed from the State of New Jersey selling its tidelands. Tidelands grants are generally only issued for lands that have already been filled in and are no longer flowed by the tide.

For more information on tidelands instruments, please see the tidelands section of this website.

For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the "Before you Build, Before you Buy" webpage.

 

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Last Updated: May 21, 2014