Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hot On the Trail of a Regional Trail System

Fuzzy Photo by Evan Brandt
The Pottsgrove Trail, one of four major trails proposed in the study, would stretch up Pleasantview Road from High Street, then head northwest along Buchert Road, slide along the woods at the edge of the Pottsgrove High School property, through the Brookside Restaurant property and cross North Charlotte Street there near the entrance for Sunset Park and them up to Hollenbach Park on North Hanover Street, opposite Pottsgrove Middle School.

Years in the making, and years yet to reach completion, a plan to expand and connect trails throughout the greater Pottstown area and to the ever-more popular Schuylkill River Trail took an important step last night.

A public hearing on the Tri-County Trail Study attracted about 14 people Wednesday night and also revealed details about the proposals, including their eye-popping cost.

Michael Lane, the regional recreation director, outlined the plans that include four or five primary trail systems (depending on how you count them), each of which will be completed in segements as funding becomes available, and said it may be 10 or 20 years before the trails outlined in the study are actually built.

The highlighted section shows the first priority for the Coventry Trail.
The first he revealed is the Coventry Trail, which begins out of Kenilworth Park and stretch up along the township line between North and East Coventry before heading west to eventually connect with the trail system in French Creek State Park.

When complete, it could cost between $1.2 million to $1.7 million, said Lane.

Missing is a link between Kenilworth Park and the the Schuylkill River Trail, which will cross the river back into Montgomery County on the new Route 422 bridge now being built. From there, it will proceed along Industrial Highway in Pottstown to Riverfront Park on a section of the trail now also being built.

A second, and less expensive trail, is called the West Trail. It will proceed from the Schuylkill River
Trail through West Pottsgrove up Grosstown Road to Manatawny Street, where it will connected to Murgia Park, along Manatawny Creek and across from the intersection with Sell Road.

That section is only anticipated to cost $546,845.

There, it will connect with a third primary trail called the Manatawny Trail, which will stretch along the west bank of Manatawny Creek from Memorial Park, beneath Route 100 and along the Colebrookdale Railroad line.

The outlined sections show the priority segments of the West and 
Manatawny trails as proposed in the regional study.
A pedestrian bridge is planned to cross Manatawny Creek near Murgia Park as well as a smaller bridge to connect the two sides of Murgia Creek on either side of Goose Run.

The Manatawny Trail, with completed, could cost between $2.5 million and $2.7 million. The priority section of this trail would stretch from Memorial Park to under the Route 100 bridge to allow for safer pedestrian crossing of Route 100.

That section became a priority in the trail plan  after 24-year-old Donald Purnell was struck and killed while trying to cross Route 100 at Shoemaker Road as he was trying to get to his job at Wendy’s.

West trail will also have a connections to a trail through the West Pottsgrove Township Park behind the township building and into the Circle of Progress to connect with Sly Fox Brewery there. The Manatawny Trail will also connect to the Circle of Progress there.

The next trail is called the Pottsgrove Trail, and it is envisioned to stretch up Pleasantview Road from High Street, turn left near Buchert Road, after making its way through Gerald Richards Park, and reach Pottsgrove High School.

There, it will skirt the edges of the woods and make its way through the Brookside Restaurant property to emerge on North Charlotte Street near the entrance to Sunset Park in Upper Pottsgrove.

The sprawling and more conceptual Upper West Trail
The crossing of that busy road, which is also Route 663, will become safer now that PennDOT has agreed to lower the speed limit on North Charlotte Street to 25 miles per hour between Mervine Street and School Lane.

From there make its way to Hollenbach Park on North Hanover Street, opposite Pottsgrove Middle School.

This is also the point at which the Pottsgrove Trail will connect with the Walk Bike Pottstown trail
system now under construction in the borough, which will provide another connection to Riverfront Park and the Schuylkill River Trail there.

The final section is called the Upper West Trail and it is more conceptual now than the other trails, this given that it envisions a connection through New Hanover Township to the Perkiomen Trail in Green Lane.

The cost of that trail runs anywhere from $2.3 million to $4 million or $5 million depending on what kind of options are pursued, such as allowing equestrian access on certain portions.
The section of the Upper West Trail which has been prioritized

However, a small portion has been prioritized that would connect Murgia Park with the Goose Run Recreation Area in Douglass (Berks) Township. The route will depend on whether negotiations with Waste Management, which owns the Pottstown Landfill, results in allowing access through that property.

That cost is currently estimated at about $800,000.

Whenever possible, the trails use public parks, public properties and public right of ways in order to avoid private property.

Lane said that no trail would proceed through private property without those property owners first agreeing to negotiate.

A resident of North Coventry, who declined to give his name for publication, and Marc Kenline of Pottstown both said there should be more notification of private property owners who could be affected by the planned trails.

A 30-day public comment period continues through Sept. 2 and can be sent to lane in writing at Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Planning Committee, 140 College Dr., Pottstown, PA 19464.

And now what you've all been waiting for ... THE TWEETS!

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