By Lauren Golden, Trail & Stewardship Manager
Roughly a year ago I wrote about the trials and tribulations of trail development in the Lehigh Valley. Those projects, currently eight if you are counting, are predominantly in Lehigh County and some in Northampton County. Since it’s been a while, I thought I’d update everyone on our progress in the last year. If you missed last year’s post, you can re-read it for additional information and background.
I am happy to report that PennDOT has been so very helpful in coordinating construction of the Dry Run Bridge along the trail with the Coplay-Northampton Bridge replacement over the trail. Thanks to PennDOT District 5-0 staff, Trumbull (contractor), and both Lehigh and Northampton Counties for their support. At this time, the Dry Run Bridge is nearly complete, only finishing touches will remain. Although the bridge will be usable, access to the bridge is blocked from the north due to the ongoing replacement of the Coplay-Northampton Bridge. You can reach the Dry Run bridge from the trailheads just south; North Catasauqua Trailhead or the Deily Coal Yard Trailhead.
The trail surface to the north and south of the Dry Run Bridge, within Northampton County, is one of two simultaneous areas of focus for the D&L and our partners. Working with North Catasauqua, Northampton Borough, and Wilson Consulting Group, we’re developing a design that can be submitted for the necessary permits. Because the trail will follow the historic towpath in this section, special considerations must be made for the historic and environmental features as well as the fact that the trail will be adjacent to the Lehigh River.
As a separate project, the section connecting directly south is part of a partnership with Lehigh County and Wildlands Conservancy, supported by a Transportation Alternatives grant from PennDOT. This project has only begun and although the grant is for construction, there is still a lot of preliminary environmental work to finish as a result of the federal funding we are using to construct.
Additional work is planned to explore constructing trail on both the eastern and western sides of the river between Route 329 and Allentown’s Hamilton Street Bridge. Planning this project is ongoing and recently got a big boost of support from Lehigh Valley partners as a result of Pennsylvania Senator John Yudichak’s recent visit.
In case you missed it, Senator Yudichak is in the midst of his sectional hike and bike of the entire D&L Trail; the result of his pre-Super Bowl pledge that if the Eagles won he would hike the entire D&L Trail. Thank you to all who participated in the Senator’s hike on June 8th.