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Rail-trail approved by Chambersburg Borough Council

September 14, 2000

Rail-trail approved by Chambersburg Borough Council



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council Wednesday authorized the approval of a $97,000 grant agreement to pay for the engineering and design of a 1.1 mile rail-trail through the downtown.

The council also gave the go-ahead for the borough to develop a contract with RBA Group to do the design and engineering work. RBA is the same consulting firm that did the feasibility study for the project, according to Councilman Thomas Newcomer.

The proposed trail would run from South Street to Commerce Street along a section of CSX Railroad track that runs north to south through the downtown, Newcomer said. The project has already been approved for $631,000 in federal transportation funds for construction of a 12-foot wide asphalt trail, he said.

"We're hoping the tracks will be abandoned this fall," Newcomer said. The project will probably not be ready to bid until the fall of next year with construction possibly beginning in early 2002, he said.

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Some council members expressed concern about the costs of maintaining the trail once it is built. "There's going to be an extra burden pushed on the recreation department," Councilman Scot Thomas said.

"It's free up front, but in the end the borough of Chambersburg is going to pay for everything," said Council President Bernard Washabaugh. He said providing police services along the trail will become a borough responsibility.

Newcomer said the committee formed to develop the rail-trail project has been working on ways to reduce or eliminate the cost of maintaining the trail. "We're going to try and do it through outside sources, such as corporate sponsorships," he said.

Local service organizations have also been approached about sponsoring maintenance along sections of the trail.

"What are we going to do when our historians come in and say it's historical?" Councilman William McLaughlin asked. He said other borough projects, such as the Village on the Falling Spring, have been altered or canceled because of opposition for historic groups.

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