Monday, January 04, 2010

SEPTA and Lehigh Valley Communities Forge New Trail From Bucks County Line

According to an article in the December 31st Morning Call, SEPTA is signing a lease agreements with 4 municipalities in Lehigh and Northampton Counties for it's Bethlehem Branch line from the Bucks County Line in Upper Saucon Township and Coopersburg to Hellertown near the south campus of Lehigh University.

The trail which will probably will remain a gravel surface officials expect construction to be completed before the end of the year although one person interviewed had his doubts.

The plan for portion of the rail line from Quakertown and south is an extension of the SEPTA R5 from Lansdale.

View Lehigh Valley Rail Trail in a larger map


Andrew J. Besold said...

I don't think this is the best possible use fro this right-of-way.

I'm all for rail-trails when they are built on redundant track (as with the Schuylkill River Trail) or tracks that will never again have a transportation purpose. But I'm concerned about this news since this is the most logical route to one-day reconnect the Bethlehem-Allentown region with Philadelphia via rail.

I know that one of the main arguments for rail-trails is that they help preserve ROWs for future rail use (rail banking) but the reality is that once the trails are built it is really difficult to turn them back into active rail lines. Often the locals (the NIMBY ones that probably fought against the trial) now fully appreciate what a wonderful recreational resource they have and refuse to see it go back to rail use.

This is happening is Seattle that horrific traffic problems but all the old rail lines have been turned into rail-trails. Even with the rail lines that still exist and local planners would like to turn into light-rail lines, locals are fighting instead to turn them into trails.

The reality is, "Once a rail-trail, always a rail-trail."

Also every comment from The Morning Call article would like to see rail service returned to Quakertown and north to Bethlehem.

John Boyle said...

If everyone wants restoration of train service than why is not happening?

1 - Route 422 is SEPTA's priority corridor for expansion. Quakertown service is being pondered only because Bucks County has been advocating for rail service restoration.

2 - In NJ and PA home rule rules. Worse yet the Lehigh Valley is a different MPO and from my perspective there seems to be lack of joint planning with DVRPC (when compared to WILMAPCO in DE and NJTPO in North Jersey).

3-If people in Lehigh and Northampton County want rail service they certainly aren't electing many pro rail officials into office.

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