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By Lauren Golden, Trail and Stewardship Manager
Currently, there are about 144 miles of D&L Trail, with plans for approximately 165 miles. Most recently, I’ve talked at length about those last 21 or so miles. But, less of my time has been spent talking about what happens along those 144 miles of existing trail we all know and love. It takes well-planned and coordinated efforts to keep the trail accessible and enjoyable. We communicate these efforts via our online interactive trail map.
Recently, the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) conducted a statewide study to get information from outdoor enthusiasts. More specifically, the study aimed to learn how to prioritize projects, and more importantly funding based on public interests. From this, we learned that, overwhelmingly, Pennsylvanians want to prioritize maintenance. For me, this is great news.
Maintenance is an often uncelebrated part of trail development. Yet, it is a critically important part of the process. Truthfully, a penny spent today on maintenance can save several future dollars on repairs. With that in mind, I thought I’d talk about our interactive trail map and its many uses. For one, we use this map to help coordinate important maintenance work. Most often, this means trail work but sometimes not just trail work!
For you who are unfamiliar, we have an online, interactive map of the D&L Trail with information about each section. The map key shows four different status levels; Planned/Future (blue), Obstruction (orange), Unimproved but open (yellow), and Complete/open (green).
When work happens on an open trail section, it is highly important that trail users know about that work. For multiple reasons, we update the map for you. In many cases, we just want to make sure your ride, walk, or hike goes without obstruction. In other instances, it’s for your safety. This is especially true in cases involving construction and maintenance.
D&L Trail landowners need space to do routine maintenance on the trail. An example of that maintenance includes upkeep to ensure that the surface doesn’t deteriorate and necessitate costly repairs. The canal and railroads are some of the oldest transportation systems in our region. Resultantly, there are a lot of utilities that co-align with the trail. This year, PPL is using the trail as access to replace major electrical towers. While inconvenient to trail users, we’re able to provide access for critical electric infrastructure maintenance to take place.
As a result of our coordination with roughly 40 landowners across nearly 70 municipalities and a variety of utility and transportation agencies, we are able to provide you with information about these obstructions and how it impacts trail use.
It’s not uncommon in this age to check a traffic app before leaving on your morning commute. We hope that you’ll use our trail map in a similar fashion. If you’re planning to use a section of trail, visit our website to check for maintenance, closures, or any other status changes that occur. If the section you were considering is closed temporarily, maybe give a new section a try!