Monday, October 29, 2007

Burlington County Trail Update

From County Open Space Coordinator Matthew Johnson:

While I agree with you that we encountered some frustrating delays particularly regarding the endorsement of the Delaware River Heritage Trail Route Alignment and Facility Plan (Categorical Exclusionary Document), I am happy to report that it has been approved.

Most recently, the County and DVRPC have successfully obtained funding from the NJDOT to contract w/ The RBA Group to prepare final design and construction documents for 2 segments of the DRHT measuring a total of 6.5 miles. Letters are going out to municipal representatives of these communities so that the consultant can proceed with the development of bidding documents.

Regarding the proposed Kinkora Rails to Trails project in Burlington County, please be advised that we recently negotiated a donation of an approximately 5 mile section of the former rail line. The County is currently looking at segments where we could most efficiently design, permit and construct safe and enjoyable trail facilities for public use. As we have discussed in the past, Burlington County seeks to identify logical destinations to link w/ trails so that we don't have a trail facility end "nowhere", leaving the trail user to find his/her way. As opportunities to develop destination to destination trails arise, we are eager to proceed.

For example, the County is working on closing on a "connector" parcel by the end of the calendar year that would enable us to potentially construct a portion of the Kinkora Trail from Mansfield Community Park to Springfield's municipal bldg/rec complex.

The County's Parks and Open Space Master Plan's objective is to develop an interconnected regional park system so that, eventually, all of our park sites can be accessed by on/off road trails. As stated above, sections of this trail system are actively being analyzed for final design, permitting and construction in the near term.

The County is working on acquiring another "missing link" property so that we can construct the western 1/2 of the proposed Arney's Mount loop that would connect to the existing Pemberton Rails to Trails facility to the highest point in Burlington County. Pieces of this puzzle are falling into place and you will be seeing more trail construction projects popping up on the horizon as a result.

The Resource Conservation Department works closely with the Burlington County Engineering Department to facilitate bike lane construction in as many locations as possible.

As you are well aware, many of the County's proposals, even for passive recreational improvements such as trails, get stymied by the various permitting agencies. While this adds to the County's frustration and, ultimately, taxpayer cost, we continue to fight the good fight to develop these much needed facilities for our residents to enjoy.


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