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Borough to seek grant for rail-trail addition

April 13, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Having already awarded a contract for its 1.1-mile rail-trail project, the Chambersburg Borough Council on Monday night authorized the borough to apply for a $50,000 grant to design a half-mile-long addition.

As originally envisioned in the 1996 feasibility study, the rail-trail was to be 1.6 miles long, but Mayor Thomas Newcomer said a manufacturer wanted to retain rail access on a section of CSX line between South and South Main streets. The manufacturer has since purchased the former Chambersburg Engineering building and the borough might now be able to get access to that section of track, he said.

Newcomer said the borough might apply for a Keystone grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to design the section between South and South Main streets. That was the same funding source for the $97,000 used to design the 1.1-mile section, he said.

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"If we get the money, we end up with the trail we wanted anyway," Councilman Robert Wareham said.

In February, the council awarded an $844,000 contract to George S. Hann & Sons of Fort Littleton, Pa., to construct the rail-trail along the line from South Street north to Commerce Street. The borough later made change orders in the contract, eliminating a trestle canopy, lighting and other features to bring the cost of the project in line with the $631,000 in federal and state funding it has available for the project.

Newcomer said the borough has asked U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., for help in getting additional funding to complete that part of the trail as originally planned.

If the borough is successful in getting the Keystone grant for the design of the new section, Newcomer said it then could apply for additional federal transportation funds to complete the section from South to South Main streets. Newcomer said that does not go through a populated area and likely would cost less than the urban section between South and King streets.

Not all residents are enthusiastic about the rail-trail project. Dr. Harry Haddon criticized the council Monday night for "whittling the cost" to make the project fit the available funding and said "eliminating the lights is both foolish and cavalier."

Haddon also said the trail poses safety hazards for pedestrians and bikers who will have to cross U.S. 30 and other busy streets along its route. He called the project "a path from nowhere to nowhere with no scenery in between."

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