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

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

Footbridges are typically found as part of a public or private trail system and most often span a stream or other watercourse. Occasionally, footbridges are constructed to span a dry gulch or ravine.

Footbridge construction, repair and/or reconstruction may result in impacts to “special areas” that are regulated by the Department and may require multiple approvals from the Division of Land Use Regulation.  Therefore, it is important to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas on site.  Special areas can be rudimentarily determined using the Department’s online mapping service, NJ-GeoWeb

The above tabs provide additional information on permit requirements relating to footbridges.  For impacts to streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, flood plains, flood ways, riparian zones, please see the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please see the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, see the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab.  Information on Tidelands can be found by selecting 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.

Footbridge construction in a regulated area requires authorization of some type under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules.  No Flood Hazard Permits-by-rule are available for footbridge construction however, 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.  It is important to note that the size of the stream’s watershed is less than 50 acres.  This limitation refers to the size of the watershed and not the size of the property upon which the footbridge would be located.  Should the project not be eligible for the General Permit 9, a Flood Area Verification and Individual Permit may be required. The technical standards are described in Subchapters 9, 10 and 11 of the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules. 

If the proposed project is regulated pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7, then no separate Flood Hazard approval is required.  In these instances, the applicant need only submit a report and plans demonstrating compliance with the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules as part of the coastal permit application.

Footbridge construction, repair, and/or reconstruction within coastal areas generally requires a permit.  These activities may qualify for the below described General Permit.  If the project does not meet the General Permit requirements, a CAFRA, Coastal Wetlands, and/or Waterfront Development Individual Permit may be required.

The “Jurisdiction” tab of the "Coastal Areas" webpage can help you determine which areas of your site may be regulated.  The availability of certain permits depends on the project’s location.

Potentially applicable General Permit (GP):

GP 13 - authorizes the construction of construction of recreational facilities at public parks  

Please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center at (609) 777-0454 should you require 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: July 6, 2015