By Lauren Golden, Trail & Stewardship Manager
The D&L Trail is long and the gaps are many, but one area where progress is being made is in the Delaware Canal section. This is due in large part to the strong partnerships that manage and support the trail in this southernmost region. This year’s wet weather seems determined to make additional gaps, but for now we’ll consider those “maintenance issues.” Outside the flood-damaged areas, four big gaps remain. Here is a summary of what they are and what stage they are in:
Bridge Street Crossing in Morrisville
This project is funded through a grant to the Borough of Morrisville from PennDOT. As with all projects, public funds come with guidelines and restrictions on how the money can be used. For this project, the federal guidelines for acquiring property must be followed. This process means that the engineering phase of the project happens slowly but the construction dollars will be there the design specifications are ready. This will most likely be the last gap along this section to be completed.
Last year brought about a big leap forward for this project. The project team discovered that the project area was controlled by PennDOT, not a private owner. It was a big deal because it meant that an agreement between PennDOT and DCNR State Parks could facilitate the development of this section of trail, as opposed to requiring the purchase of privately owned land. That agreement, between two state departments, is in place and the DCNR work crew plans to work on the project as soon as they are able. This is where that flood damage becomes an issue, however. The same DCNR crew that would improve this section is also the crew that repairs flood damaged areas. With all the flood damage requiring emergency attention, the Tyburn Road improvements must wait.
About a mile south of the Bridge Street Crossing, the former trail is bisected by a Conrail embankment. Construction began earlier this summer to construct a passageway through the rail embankment. This section of trail is closed, both north and south bound, for the foreseeable future until the construction crews are finished.
To summarize, two of the three remaining gaps in the D&L Trail along the Delaware Canal section are well on their way to being connected. We are grateful to all who have helped move these projects along, including but not limited to DCNR State Parks, Friends of the Delaware Canal, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, East Coast Greenway, and all the municipalities along the trail that lend their support.
Bristol Lagoon to Bristol Marsh
This gap is the “last mile” needed to connect to the D&L Trail’s southern terminus, where the canal flowed into the Delaware River nearest to Philadelphia. Historic Bristol Borough applied to DCNR for funding to develop a Master Site Plan for the “Mile 0” area that includes improvements to pedestrian connections. We look forward to the DCNR grant announcements and will continue to work with Historic Bristol Borough, Delaware Canal State Park, and local trail enthusiasts to be fully connected.