Rail trail still on target for 2018

By on April 27, 2016

Newport-to-Picnic Woods phase should be done by this fall

Recent work along the Lititz-to-Ephrata rail trail near Picnic Woods Road indicates the project is on schedule. (Photo by Dick Wanner)

Recent work along the Lititz-to-Ephrata rail trail near Picnic Woods Road indicates the project is on schedule. (Photo by Dick Wanner)

The newest link in Warwick Township’s rails-to-trails path is well underway, eventually crossing Newport Road and traveling more than a mile to Picnic Woods Road.

Right now, the trail that leads from the township municipal campus stops at Newport Road. The crosswalk that will be constructed there will have flashing lights and be similar to the crossing at Clay Road (in front of the municipal campus).

But the Newport crossing will not be painted vivid lime green.

That was the original plan, reported road superintendent Dean Saylor at the April 20 meeting of Warwick Township Supervisors.

As it turns out, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation does not authorize bright green crossings like the one on Highlands Drive. Instead, the crossing will be marked with bold white stripes so that it will be visible in lower light. The trail is open from dawn to dusk.

“The green would have been noticeably obnoxious,” said supervisor chairman Logan Myers, adding that the crossing will be designed for safety with radar controlled lighting.

Saylor and his roads crew have been busy clearing the pathway of vegetation, and hope to have the 2016 section cleared and prepared for construction in the next few weeks. It is estimated that the section from Newport Road to Picnic Woods will be completed by this fall.

The trail was once a railroad bed for the Reading Railroad. Abandoned long ago, the railroad ties and track were eventually removed, making it possible to develop an eight-and-a-quarter mile recreation trail that connects Lititz to Ephrata Borough. It is expected to be phased in over the next few years, with a targeted completion in 2018.

Last fall, Warwick Township extended its portion of the trail, which now starts at Oak Street in Lititz and heads toward Ephrata through woods and farm fields. 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.

After Warwick Township’s next phase is completed this year, the trail will continue on to Meadow Valley Road in 2017, eventually hooking up with Ephrata Township. The targeted completion of the entire trail in 2018 will provide hikers, joggers, bicyclists and others with a scenic path that connects the two bustling boroughs.

Another project that is expected to provide a connection between Lititz and Warwick is the Sixth Street road expansion. Warwick Township has received proposals from three separate companies for the work.

Back in February, the township agreed to apply for the 2017 Multimodal Transportation Fund for the Sixth Street extension in Warwick Township and Lititz Borough. The application submittal is jointly administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) under the direction of the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA).

The plan for Sixth Street is that it will be extended from the west at Warwick Woodlands to the existing Sixth Street, then across Kissel Hill Road behind the Lititz Public Library and out to Route 772.

“All three consultants think we have a very good chance of getting the grant,” said Warwick Township Manager Dan Zimmerman. “All three are capable and competent, and have three entirely different strategies.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance reporter who covers the Warwick Township municipal beat for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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