Rail trail dedication set for April 24

By on February 6, 2019

When a bridge over the Cocalico Creek was opened last month, the entire length of the Warwick to Ephrata rail trail (WERT) was finally available to pedestrians and bicyclists.The opening marked the culmination of a 15-year visionary effort to turn an abandoned railbed into a transportation/recreation resource for the citizens of Lititz, Akron and Ephrata boroughs, and Warwick and Ephrata townships.

There was no big deal made about the opening, but there will be plenty of fanfare at an official trail dedication ceremony set for the morning of Wednesday, April 24. The WERT committee at their Jan. 23 meeting set the date for the ceremony. They tentatively chose the middle of the pedestrian bridge for short speeches and maybe a ribbon cutting and/or other celebratory flourishes.

Dan Zimmerman

The WERT committee is composed of elected and appointed officials and citizens from the five municipalities, It meets regularly to discuss trail issues. Each municipality is responsible for the management and maintenance of its section of the trail.

Casual observation confirms that the trail is heavily used for recreation and fitness. And Warwick Township Manager Dan Zimmerman, who has been with the trail project since its inception and who chairs the WERT committee, said he’s heard reports of people who commute to work on the trail.

Now renovated for trail use, the steel bridge crossing the Cocalico Creek is shown on the left during its construction in 1909. It replaced an earlier wooden bridge. The new steel bridge allowed the Reading and Columbia line to use heavier locomotives. On the right is the bridge as it appears today. The photo on the left was submitted by David Bucher, a member of the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail committee. The photo on the right was taken from approximately the same angle by staff reporter/photographer Dick Wanner. In both instances, the Cocalico disappears from view. But it’s there.

A number of organizations have inquired about using the trail for organized running and other events. The committee is working on developing rules, regulations and guidelines for organized events. That document hasn’t been finalized, but a few things are pretty certain:

• The trail will always be open to the public. No portion will be closed to accommodate any organized event.
• Preference will be given to organizations within the five WERT municipalities.
• The number of participants in an organized event will not exceed 200.
• There will be no bike races.
• Event organizers must submit a certificate of insurance evidencing a minimum of $1 million in general liability coverage.
• Organizers will be responsible for trash removal.
• Organizers will be responsible for posting certified traffic control flaggers at all road crossings.

Although for now each of the five municipalities can field requests for events wholly within their individual boundaries, requests for events that cross one or more of those boundaries must be submitted, with a $25 nonrefundable application fee, to the Warwick Regional Recreation Commission. The committee has appointed the WRRC as the overall administrator of trail events.
There is some information about the trail at the WRRC website, warwickrecreation.org. The WRRC and WERT event coordinator is Maria Tivoli, who can be reached by email at mariativoli@lititzrec.com, or by phone at 717-626-5096 x237.

Dick Wanner is a staff reporter-photographer for the Lititz Record Express. He can be reached at rwanner.eph@lnpnews.com. 

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