Borough plans to expand Rail-Trail

January 13, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The rails and ties are gone, leaving behind a half-mile path of ballast stone. But the CSX Railroad line from South Main Street to South Street should one day become an extension of Chambersburg's Rail-Trail.

From planning to opening, it took about 10 years to get the 1.1-mile stretch of paved rail-trail open from South Street north to Commerce Avenue. Last week, the Chambersburg Borough Council discussed how it will go about extending the biking, jogging and walking trail south.

The Borough Recreation Board had recommended that the Rail-Trail Advisory Committee be dissolved in favor of a Friends of the Trail Committee of volunteers that would assist with litter removal, mowing and other tasks along the trail.

Councilman Tom Newcomer, who got the rail-trail project started during a previous stint on the council, said the advisory committee should remain to assist the board and council until the extension of the path is completed. Newcomer said the committee also could begin exploring an extension of the trail north from Commerce Avenue where the old rail line goes through Wilson College.


The committee would assist the council with land acquisition, selecting a consultant to do the design and bid documents and administration of the construction contract. Newcomer said the Friends of the Trail Committee could be established in the meantime to help with maintaining the existing section of trail.

The original Rail-Trail cost $630,000 in federal funds. U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., has promised an additional $330,000 for construction of the southern extension, according to borough officials.

Newcomer said there still is $11,209 available from the original $630,000 to make improvements on the existing trail. That money from the original grant has to be spent by February 2009.

The property still has to be appraised before CSX donates the land to the borough, Borough Secretary Tanya Mickey said. Once that is done, up to $50,000 more could be available from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for design of the trail.

The borough will pay the cost of the appraisal of the railroad land, Mickey said.

Most of the proposed extension goes through an industrial area in the borough's South End. The existing trail, which was completed about two years ago, goes north on Water Street through a mixed residential and commercial area through the Southgate Shopping Center, across Conococheague Creek, past the Village on the Falling Spring, and runs between the creek and Hood Street up to Commerce Avenue.

Newcomer will represent the council on the advisory committee. Superintendent of Recreation Herb Dolaway, Assistant Borough Manager David Finch, Planning Director Phil Wolgemuth and Shade Tree Commission member Chris Snavely also are to serve, along with Mark Miller of the Downtown Business Council, Jerry Angula of the Cumberland Valley Rail-Trail and at-large representatives.

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