Burlco keen on creating trail

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http://www.courierpostonline.com/news/southjersey/m012204e.htm

Burlco keen on creating trail


Thursday, January 22, 2004

13-mile path would wind through abandoned rail route

By CAROL COMEGNO
Courier-Post Staff
MOUNT HOLLY


Hikers and bikers may have a new trail to explore in Burlington County in the future.

The county board of freeholders agreed Wednesday to pursue creation of a 13-mile trail that would follow an abandoned railroad right-of-way between Route 130 in Mansfield and Pemberton Township.

County open space coordinator Matt Johnson estimated the cost of the Rails to Trails project at $3 million - $1 million for the right-of-way acquisition of an old freight line and $2 million for land clearing and trail construction.

He said the trail would follow a path through the county's undeveloped farm belt. It would connect the Kinkora section of Mansfield near the Florence border with the Pemberton Township Railroad Station on Pemberton Road.

The trail would pass under canopies of woods and through the quaint downtown of Columbus in Mansfield, Jobstown in Springfield and a section of Wrightstown.

One of the project's advantages, Johnson said, is that there are only 10 property owners along the line and the four municipalities support it.

Part of the line is owned by nonprofit organizations and Springfield Township and will not be bought by the county.

"The trail goes through one of the most scenic parts of the county and through much land that will never be developed," Freeholder William Haines said.


Johnson said the Rails to Trails route is part of the county's master plan for parks and would connect to the greenways along the Delaware River and Rancocas Creek. The plan calls for a 10-foot-wide trail with 10 feet of clearing on either side of the right-of-way, which was abandoned in the 1980s.

The trail would be built in phases and could be several years away from opening. The county would finance the trail from its dedicated open space tax and could apply for state Green Acres money.
 
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BURLCO PLANS 13-MILE CROSS-COUNTY RAIL TRAIL

Date: 22 Jan 2004
From: "Loretta O'Donnell" {LOdonnell@co.burlington.nj.us}

TRAIL WILL LINK DELAWARE RIVER WITH RANCOCAS AT PEMBERTON

January 21, 2004

Burlington County Freeholders today agreed to convert a 13-mile
abandoned railroad trail into a cross-county recreational trail that
would link the Delaware River in Mansfield with the Rancocas Greenway
at the Pemberton Historic Rail Museum.

The old Kinkora railroad right-of-way is largely intact and runs
through the County's farm belt. In addition to Mansfield and Pemberton
Township, the right-of-way runs through Springfield Township and
Wrightstown Borough. The line was abandoned by the rail companies in
the 1980s with the track and ties removed.

"This Rails to Trails project will link proposed park facilities, as
outlined in the County's Parks and Open Space Master Plan, and offer
residents a great new opportunity to hike or bike through some of
Burlington County's most scenic areas," said Freeholder William S.
Haines, Jr.

In addition to passing through several of the County's preserved
farms and the Assicunk Creek, hikers would pass through Mansfield
Community Park, and the villages of Columbus, Jobstown and Juliustown
before ending at the Rail Museum near the Rancocas Creek.

"Fortunately, the trail can be developed at a very reasonable cost
since the railroad right-of-way has no major encroachments other than
where it crosses I-295 in Mansfield and we have proposed an
alternative route in that area," Haines added.

Freeholder Haines and staff recently met with public officials from
the four municipalities that the railroad line runs through to explain
the County's plans and answer questions. The County has begun
contacting the less than 10 landowners along the line to negotiate
acquisitions.

The County would remove vegetative overgrowth along the Kinkora line
for a 30-foot wide cleared area, and then grade and stabilize soils
for a 10-foot wide trail.

The cost of the entire trail is estimated at $1 million for
acquisition and $2.3 million for development.

* * *

Contact:
William S. Haines, Jr., (609) 265-5020
Loretta O'Donnell, (609) 265-5028