FALLS TOWNSHIP >> The Conrail embankment in Falls Township is no longer an obstacle for users of the Delaware Canal Towpath.
A culvert pipe still carries the canal’s water through the embankment, but towpath users no longer have to detour around it thanks to a new passageway cut through the embankment. That means no more resorting to the “hill climb” or walking passed the active railroad tracks.
On June 11, officials gathered outside the new passageway to cut a ribbon and to celebrate the elimination of another impediment along the Delaware Canal, part of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
Participating in the ribbon cutting were state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards, representatives from the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, the Bureau of State Parks and the Friends of the Delaware Canal and local officials.
“Today’s dedication is a justified salute to all who worked so long to make positive things happen along this trail,” Dunn said. “Projects of this scope do not come cheap, but DCNR is committed to closing major existing trail gaps, and bringing the joy of hiking, biking and walking close to people’s homes. Restore Pennsylvania would supply needed funds to address these infrastructure needs.”
When completed, the D&L Trail will be the be the longest multi-use trail in Pennsylvania. In 2012, an economic impact analysis completed by the Rails to Trails Conservancy estimated the total user-spending generated because of the D&L Trail at over $19 million annually.
“Projects like this show how state and local agencies can work together to make needed improvements that connect various modes of transportation,” said Secretary Richards. “These improvements connect communities by expanding people’s options for getting where they need to go.”
Identified by trail supporters as the recently completed “CSX Tunnel” and “Tyburn Road Connector” projects, the improvements overseen by PennDOT and DCNR close two major gaps in Pennsylvania’s statewide trail network, while facilitating safe pedestrian and bicyclist travel along the D&L trail and through Delaware Canal State Park.
Traveling south from Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, to Bristol in lower Bucks County, the D&L Trail eventually will cover 165 miles. With completion of the tunnel and connector projects, trail supporters note hikers and bikers are just short of having access to 70 miles of contiguous trail in Bucks and Lehigh counties.
“These improvements address long- standing gaps that impact connectivity of the Delaware Canal Towpath, D&L Trail , East Coast Greenway and Philadelphia’s Circuit Trail,” said Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Executive Director Elissa Garofalo. “So many partners were involved in various ways — the PA Environmental Council, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, East Coast Greenway, DCNR, Bucks County and others. In the end, it was PennDOT funds and construction management for the CSX passageway, and the DVRPC, D&L and DCNR for Tyburn Road.”