Rail trail project continues to move toward Ephrata

By on July 22, 2015

It will be a real “greenway” when the Rails-to-Trails pedestrian path crosses East Newport Road in Warwick Township.

Neon bright lime green, that is.

At the July 15 meeting of Warwick Township supervisors, township manager Daniel Zimmerman explained that when it comes time to navigate the crossing over East Newport Road, the plan is to use a vivid lime green road treatment framed by bold white stripes.

“We are particularly concerned about East Newport Road,” said Zimmerman, noting that the Phase II is expected to be completed later in 2015.

Warwick Township’s Phase II portion will add another 3,000 feet to the trail that is expected to span more than eight and a quarter miles by the end of 2018, enabling people to walk from Lititz Springs Park to downtown Ephrata.

The lime green road crossings are set for East Newport Road and for Rothsville Station Road, where traffic is higher. The East Newport Road crossing will also be lit in order to improve visibility for drivers, in a similar way as the trail crossing on Clay Road near the Warwick Township municipal building.

At the supervisors meeting the board agreed to go ahead with a Pennsylvania Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program (GTRP) grant that will help fund the project. Zimmerman said that the grant will not absolutely necessary for completing the trail, but it will be a big help.

“We will still be able to proceed,” he said, adding that much of the work is being done by township crews.

The plan for the Rails-to-Trails path connecting Lititz Borough to Ephrata Borough is expected to be phased in over the next few years, with a targeted completion in 2018.

Eventually, it is hoped that people will be able to walk or jog all the way from Lititz to downtown Ephrata, spanning a total of 43,800 feet, which works out to be a little more than eight and a quarter miles.

The trail is expected to wind along streams and through woods, making its way through farm fields of corn, wheat and other crops on a path that was once used by the railway. It’s already in place in portions of Lititz Borough and Warwick Township with 4,500-foot section that travels along Lititz Run stream near John R. Bonfield Elementary School to the Warwick Township municipal building on Clay Road.

A large portion of the trail has already been established to the east, connecting Ephrata Township to Ephrata, with 9,800 feet in Ephrata, 3,800 feet in Akron Borough and 1,300 feet in Ephrata Township.

When the entire trail is completed, it should be an impressive recreational joint project that opens up the trail for walkers, hikers and runners, allowing them to experience the rich historical and agricultural heritage of the area.

In Warwick Township, the trail is expected to cross over East Newport Road as part of the 2015 Phase II project. Rothsville Station Road and Picnic Woods are targeted for the next phase set for 2016, while Meadow Valley Road is planned for the 2017 extension. The 2016 portion will span 5,300 feet, while the 2017 portion will span 5,600 feet.

In 2018, the entire rails-to-trails path should be fully connected, with Warwick Township adding another 1,355 feet, making the connection into Ephrata Township. Ephrata Township’s last link will be 945 feet, while Lititz Borough is expected to extend the path from near Bonfield to Lititz Springs Park, on 4,700 feet along Lititz Run Stream.

“This is a good example of inter-municipal cooperation,” said Zimmerman at an earlier meeting, when he pointed out that the municipalities of Akron Borough, Ephrata Borough, Ephrata Township, and Warwick Township collectively received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR) for the purpose of conducting a Regional Rails-to-Trails Feasibility Study.

That study showed that the municipalities were on track to develop a portion of the former Reading Railroad right-of-way into a trail system to serve the purposes of recreation and alternative transportation.

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