Possibilities abound for Pa. trail plan

January 24, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — An investigation into the best places for walking and biking trails in the Mercersburg area uncovered little-known hiking trails, old railbeds, and the groundwork for a trolley line abandoned for lack of funds.

MACWell, a wellness organization, commissioned a feasibility study for developing walking and biking trails in the Borough of Mercersburg, Montgomery Township and Peters Township. On Tuesday, its consultant presented initial findings and asked for public input on maps.

“For a lot of people, they’re missing out on a lot because a few connectors are missing,” said Bob Thomas, of Philadelphia consulting firm Campbell Thomas & Co.

Thomas said representatives of his firm and MACWell members collected questionnaires, hiked the area and visited various sites. Consultants reviewed zoning, topographical, canoe and traffic-count maps as well as documents dating back to the 1800s.


One map from 1816 showed a 50-foot right of way that extended from Cowans Gap to Mercersburg. Other documents revealed a trolley line that has grading visible along U.S. 30.

“This is a very large system if you were to put it all into place,” Thomas said.

A major priority identified by the community is a corridor connecting James Buchanan middle and high schools to Mercersburg borough and the elementary school and park in Montgomery Township, Thomas said.

That same corridor could be tied to safer pedestrian lanes on Pa. 16 west of town, he said.

“Today, we saw a woman carrying an infant (and) walking up Route 16. She was going to the store, and there was no sidewalk,” Thomas said.

Lemasters, Pa., resident Nancy Norwood is seeking a safer route from her community to Mercersburg’s businesses. Norwood said she and her daughter, Elizabeth Wertner, would use their adaptive bicycle to travel into town.

The pair use a bicycle that is pedaled by Norwood, while her daughter, who has special needs, is secured into a front section. The Duet bicycle was designed in the Netherlands.

The pair travel 10 to 12 miles on their outings.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Norwood reviewed preliminary maps showing the route from her home to Mercersburg.

“This is what we want to be able to do. We don’t want to have to get in the car every time we want to go someplace,” she said.

Campbell Thomas & Co. will incorporate the latest feedback into their draft plan in coming months.
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