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Public meeting held on Rails-to-Trails plan

March 09, 2001

Public meeting held on Rails-to-Trails plan



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Rails-to-TrailsCHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Safe street crossings and the compatibility of uses of the proposed Rails-to-Trails project in Chambersburg were the main concerns of residents who attended the first of three public meetings on the plan.

Tom DeWire, project manager and a civil engineer from the RBA Group that is designing the 1.1-mile trail, presented an overview of what planners have in mind so far and asked for input from the community.

Plans are in the early stages, and at this point field surveys are beginning to document the topography of the land that will ultimately determine the alignment of the trail from South Street to Commerce Street.

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"We are at the very beginning of the process and don't have too many detailed answers. We want input from the people who will use the trail," DeWire said.

About 25 people showed up for the meeting at First Lutheran Church Thursday night.

Some were interested in hearing what could be done to make the eight intersections of the trail with borough roads safe for pedestrians and motorists.

DeWire and Jim Laird, the landscape architect for the project, assured residents that the intersections are being closely studied - particularly at Lincoln Way and Queen Street - and said devices could be incorporated with landscape that would slow down pedestrians at crossings.

Another concern was whether the multiple uses of the trail are compatible.

If the trail were paved, it could accommodate walkers, joggers, bicyclists and rollerbladers, among others, Laird said.

One resident said he feared that might be dangerous. He suggested the planners consider using a crushed gravel surface that would eliminate rollerbladers from the mix.

Laird said another option would be to run three trails parallel to one another, separated by some landscaping.

"In areas that are large enough, we could have side paths dedicated to different uses. As long as it is wide enough, there is no reason we can't implement a hierarchy of trails," he said.

The planners and members of the Rails-to-Trails Advisory Board said they welcomed the residents suggestions.

"It's a community project. We want everyone involved," said Tom Newcomer, chairman of the Rail-Trail Design Committee.

The trail has a $631,000 budget. If the borough agrees to purchase an additional 0.8 miles south to Fourth Street, design and construction costs would increase by more than $500,000.

The design phase of the trial began in January and is expected to be completed by June. The Rails-to-Trails Advisory Board will hold a second public meeting after that.

Engineering will be completed and final project approval is tentatively scheduled to be finished by next spring. Construction could begin at the end of 2002, DeWire said.

The trail's theme will be "The Old Railroad," and planners hope to incorporate railroad memorabilia, including some old crossing signals.

The monthly Rails-to-Trails Advisory Board meeting will be held Monday at 5 p.m. at Borough Hall.

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