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A light at the end of the trail in Chambersburg

January 27, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Bids for a rail-trail project through downtown Chambersburg could be ready in a few weeks after the Borough Council on Monday night authorized an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for about half the funding.

"Will we see it this year?" Councilman Allen Frantz asked Assistant Borough Manager David Finch.

"We believe so," Finch said of the 1.1-mile project, which has gone through several years of planning and study. He said construction should begin this spring and continue into the summer.

The trail would run from South Street in the south to Commerce Street in the north along a railroad line once used by CSX. It will be partially paved, although the northern section will likely be crushed stone, Finch said. The plan also includes lighting for the path.

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"The centerpiece of the trail is a bridge that we're going to refurbish," Finch said.

The trestle crosses the Conococheague Creek near the confluence with Falling Spring, he said.

Finch said the agreement the council authorized will give the borough access to $331,000 in federal funds through the Department of Transportation for the $665,000 project.

"There's additional money out there that has been promised us by Congressman (Bill) Shuster," Finch said of the balance of $334,000 needed to complete the hiking and biking trail.

The council also told Recreation Department Superintendent Herbert Dolaway to proceed with selecting a consulting firm to conduct a comprehensive recreation, parks and open space plan for the borough.

Dolaway said a recreation advisory committee recommended the $45,000 study go to Architera Inc., one of four firms interviewed for the job. He said the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which provided half the money for the study, has to approve the consultant.

Dolaway said that could take a month or two and he expected the study to take about nine months.

"The Empire State Building was built in a year and a day," said Council President William F. McLaughlin.

He wanted assurances that the study would not drag out for years as did the study for the rail-trail.

Borough attorney Thomas Finucane suggested including "milestones" in the contract so the consulting firm would be paid for completing stages of the study.

Councilman Robert Wareham asked if there would be money to implement any of the recommendations from a study.

Dolaway said the study could be a useful tool in getting access to other grant funds for recreation projects.

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