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Asphalt chosen for Pa. rail-trail

July 30, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The cost of a rail-trail through downtown Chambersburg could run from $70,000 to $1.2 million, but the options selected by a committee studying the project would put it closer to the high end of those estimates.

Supporters of the project have to come up with 20 percent of the cost of what they want to build, according to Jennifer Toole, a project manager with RBA Group, a Harrisburg, Pa., consulting firm.

At a meeting of the Chambersburg Rail-to-Trails Advisory Committee Wednesday, members decided to go with a 10-foot-wide asphalt trail running 1.6 miles from U.S. 11 north of Industrial Drive north to Commerce Street.

Toole said paving costs about $110,000 a mile, compared to $9,000 a mile for a cinder-base trail. She said paved trails are cheaper in the long run because of lower maintenance costs.

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Paved trails are also accessible to the handicapped and people with baby strollers, she said.

Adding to the cost would be the amount of landscaping, fencing, benches and other amenities the final plan will include, she said.

The committee also decided between two options for the Water Street section running through downtown. The CSX Railroad right-of-way runs between the northbound and southbound lanes of the street and the committee opted for keeping the trail on the right-of-way rather than moving it to the east side of the street.

That urban section would remain open at night.

Two more isolated sections, from Industrial Drive to South Street in the south and from West King Street to Commerce Street in the north, would be closed from dusk to dawn.

"Our recommendation is to go for as nice a trail as you can. Begin raising money now, as much as $200,000 or more," Toole said.

According to Tool, there is "a large pool of money" for trail projects in the recently passed federal highway bill. A community, however, must come up with a 20 percent match.

She said not all of that has to be in the form of cash. Donated professional services, labor and materials can be counted toward the local match, Toole said.

Committee member Bill Forrey said he has spoken with a Pepsi-Cola official and will talk with a Coca-Cola representative about possible sponsorship deals for the trail.

Under an agreement brokered two years ago by U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Pa., CSX will abandon the line in 1999, said Committee Chairman Thomas Newcomer.

The committee will present the trail plan to the Borough Council on Sept. 23. If the borough approves the project, Toole said construction of the trail could begin in 2000.

Newcomer, who is also a councilman, said a new entity may need to be created to begin fund-raising.

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