Cash for growing network of trails coming

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Michael Swartz and his dog Jesse, left, and James Krape and his dog Blaze, right, both of Jersey Shore, walk their dogs along the Pine Creek Rail Trail along Railroad Street in Jersey Shore on Tuesday afternoon.

More than $5 million is going to be put into bicycle trails and other connections between designated rivertowns, state officials announced Tuesday.

The funds are meant to promote healthy living and the connecting of communities along rivers. Projects in Lycoming, Clinton, Tioga and Union counties are among the listed package of 82 in the state, said Leslie S. Richards, state Department of Transportation secretary.

Among the project upgrades will be work linking folks to the Susquehanna River Walk in Williamsport and Loyalsock Township and the Pine Creek Trail in Clinton County.

Susquehanna Greenway Partnership officials were thrilled with the news delivered by Gov. Tom Wolf and Richards.

“This supports our goals of connecting people to the river and the natural environment,” said Alice Trowbridge, a local spokeswoman with the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership.

“Obviously, it helps get people from the river into the towns, whether walking or biking and then using amenities in the towns, which forwards our mission and is definitely something we are supportive of,” said Tali MacArthur, the organization’s executive director.

During the partnership’s recent Heart of Williamsport public outreach initiative, residents overwhelmingly expressed appreciation for the Susquehanna River Walk, Trowbridge said.

The path along the scenic West Branch of the river is for all ages and encourages an active lifestyle and $682,000 is earmarked for a paved connection from Bruce Henry Park in Loyalsock Township to the river walk.

Known locally as the Miller’s Run Greenway, the project provides a more direct route with only two street crossings, Trowbridge said.

Future phases of the greenway include an elevated crossing over East Third Street to eliminate one of the street crossings and the extension of the trail to the Loyalsock Recreation Center, Short Park and the Loyalsock Township pool, she said.

When completed, the greenway and river walk will provide non-motorized access to swimming for residents from Montoursville and South Williamsport — both of which communities are without outdoor pools, Trowbridge said.

“The township project also enhances the river walk by providing a safe and direct connection to residential areas of Faxon-Kenmar, which have had difficulty accessing the path because of traffic, said Mark Murawski, chief transportation planner in Lycoming County.

River Valley Transit receives $1 million to convert Willow Street into a safe bike and pedestrian pathway, he said.

The street improvement will provide pedestrian and bicyclists access to Lycoming College and its planned southern gateway entrance and building, Murawski said.

“It also ties to revitalization of Old City and the Lycoming College gateway entrance to Midtown Landing,” he said.

“The funding is an outstanding contribution to improve bicycle and pedestrian access in our urbanized areas,” Murawski said.

Other awards include:

• $1,087,197 to build an 11-mile Clinton County Rail Trail that connects five Clinton County municipalities to the Lycoming County border, and ultimately to the Jersey Shore trailhead of the Pine Creek Rail Trail.

• $1 million for sidewalks, curbing, trees and handicapped-accessible ramps along three blocks of East Church Street from Bellefonte Avenue to North Jay Street in Lock Haven.

• $40,000 in Renovo to further study and potentially design sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks and curbing along Third, Fourth, Fifth, 11th and 12th streets.

• $1.5 million to extend the Pine Creek Rail Trail three miles to the west of Wellsboro, closing a trail gap, promoting tourism, and increasing economic activity.

• $1 million to restore Bull Run’s natural floodplain, daylight stormwater and extend the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail to Bucknell University.

“All of this is part of a longer term vision of the Susquehanna Genessee Greenway Trail — from Rochester, New York to the border with Maryland,” Murawski said. “Every time these links are funded it’s time to celebrate,” he said.

It is an interstate for bicyclists and hikers running 230 miles between Rochester and Williamsport, Trowbridge said.

The goal is to connect Lake Ontario to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, she said.