Friday, July 25, 2008

Newtown Branch to Become Pennypack Trail

News of the long awaited (and somewhat controversial) extension of the Pennypack Trail from onto the SEPTA Newtown Branch Right of Way.

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From the Times Herald:

Business to remove railroad tracks to make way for trail
By: Margaret Gibbons,

The Montgomery County commissioners normally are spending money when they award contracts.

However, a contract recently awarded by the commissioners will put money into its coffers.

The county contracted with Railroad Resources and Recovery of Bethlehem to remove 2.4 miles of railroad track materials, including wooden ties and steel tracks, along the western border of the county's Lorimer Park in Abington.

The company will pay the county $205,100 for the job and materials it removes.
"With the price of steel these days..." said county regional trails manager Rich Wood, explaining why the company would pay the county for the work.

The county has entered into a nominal lease with SEPTA to use the land for a hiking and biking trail.

SEPTA in 1983 "temporarily suspended" commuter rail traffic on the line, which extends from Fox Chase to Newtown in Bucks County. Since that time, despite pleas from some to reactivate the line, parts of the rail line have been paved over.
The section of the rail line that involves the county contract begins on the Rockledge border and extends to Huntingdon Pike.

This will be the first phase of the proposed Pennypack Trail, which eventually will extend farther north into Upper Moreland and Bryn Athyn where it will link with the county's Cross County Trail as well as trails in Bucks County, according to Wood. The company will have 90 days to complete its work, Wood said.

The final design and engineering work for the trail should wrap up by the end of the year. Construction of the crushed stone trail will get under way in the spring. "I am hoping that the trail will be operating next summer," said Wood.


Anonymous said...

I live in Bucks County and have been anxiously waiting for some movement on this trail. Bucks County would not initiate the process of converting this right of way into a multi use trail so I had hoped Montgomery County would start and Bucks will eventually follow.

When the short-sighted, weak-kneed politicians in Bucks see people gravitating to the trail they'll come around.

Pete LaVerghetta said...

Montco resident, bike rider, and guy who lives two miles from proposed trail here.

The line was dropped by SEPTA due to low ridership, right?

I kind of have mixed feelings about this. It's great in the sense that folks who can't/won't/don't ride bikes on the street might use this and really enjoy cycling and then maybe expand their horizons and start using their bikes for errands, transportation, and cetera.

However...given the current economic climate I seriously thought that this line might be reactivated. With SEPTA Regional Rail ridership up and the agency buying, err, used cars from other transit systems I figured this might be ready for reinvention.

Anonymous said...

Its a poor use of a public transportation corridor. Our weak politicans could never come to agreement to fund the restoration of train service, so this is what we're left with. Sad.

Anonymous said...

I have to second those sentiments. I've been a life-long cyclist but there are times when the desire for a trail has to give way to the need for transportation that's available to everyone. Sure, I'd love to see as much of the region as possible being bike-friendly but we'll never get back those rail corridors once they're gone.