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The following is part one of a two part report from D&L Trail Steward Scott Everett. In part one, Scott provides an update on trail building in Luzerne and Carbon counties. Look for an update from our other three counties coming soon.
We have been very fortunate in the past few years to be able to undertake and complete major projects throughout the Corridor. I am happy to report on the progress of several additional projects and what we can look forward to as we head into 2010.
In Luzerne County, we are currently designing an 8.2-mile section of trail immediately north of Lehigh Gorge State Park (LGSP). The project will connect the Black Diamond Section of the D&L Trail to LGSP, providing about 35 miles of continuous trail. Scheduled for completion in 2010, this project also includes construction of a new trailhead in Wright Township, allowing for easy access from the Rt. 309 corridor.
We are excited about this project. This section of trail will be a different experience for D&L Trail users accustomed to following canals or rivers. This old Lehigh Valley Railroad railbed passes old farms, forests, and lakes. At one point, the trail follows the edge of Moosehead Lake, which is one of the most scenic spots along the entire 165-mile trail. The trail also crosses an active rail line on the pedestrian bridge completed last year.
In Carbon County, things are happening literally from one end of the county to the other. In Jim Thorpe, Carbon County has released for bid the section of trail from the southern end of the Nesquehoning Trestle to the county parking lot in Jim Thorpe. This will allow LGSP users to travel directly into the downtown. Combined with the new sections in Luzerne County, this secton adds a substantial continuous length to the D&L Trail. Even more importantly, it creates a direct link between two significant canals towns: White Haven and Jim Thorpe. Construction is scheduled to be complete by mid-2010.
We hope to get bids out early next year for the design and building of the Jim Thorpe pedestrian bridge. This will be the linkage between everything described previously and our recently completed project in Weissport.
Speaking of Weissport, the public response to the new trailhead and improved surface has been overwhelming. The parking lot is full every weekend. I highly recommend a walk or bike ride along this section of the D&L Trail in the weeks ahead, as the leaves turn. It is absolutely beautiful. As fall turns to winter, remember that the Weissport trailhead is lighted for ice skating.
Since the D&L Trail runs along the Lehigh River, we are subject to the many bridge projects that will be occurring in the years ahead. The first one underway is the PA Turnpike bridge project in Parryville.
The bridge work brings both good and bad news. The bad news is that the project will literally cut off the D&L Trail on both sides of the Lehigh River for approximately two years. The good news is two fold. First, as part of the construction easement negotiations, the contractor will construct the D&L Trail on the access road that has been placed on the old railbed on the west side of the Lehigh River. I was also told by the bridge engineers that the piers that are currently in the canal will be removed and the canal restored to its original form. Finally, the new bridges are designed not to impact the canal. From what I have heard, the bridges (and the section of the D&L Trail) are scheduled to be completed sometime in 2012.
At the southern end of Carbon County, we are finishing the design of the section of the D&L Trail from the East Penn boat launch to the Carbon County / Lehigh County line. We have also decided to use a switchback to connect the upper and lower railbeds. The upper bed, on which the Lehigh Gap Nature Center‘s L&NE and Bobolink trails run, and the lower bed, which the D&L Trail follows, will be connected with a lengthy switchback. This project will create a “loop,” allowing trail users to start at one end or the other and take one railbed out and the other back. The views from the upper bed are amazing. You can see first hand the restoration work underway on the Blue Mountain’s slopes. While the lower bed is a rough ride due to the rail ballast, the upper bed has a nice surface. We hope to get this project under construction sometime in 2010.
As you can see, we are making progress in Luzerne and Carbon counties. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 610-923-3548 (x232) or [email protected].
Part two of Scott’s report, which details projects in Lehigh, Northampton, and Bucks counties, will appear soon.