State and federal grants totaling $2.5 million will help fund the second phase of construction of the Newtown Rail Trail as it stretches into Northampton Township.
The Bucks County Commissioners approved receipt of the grants – one from the state Department of Transportation for $1.5 million, and another for $1 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – during their Jan. 4 public meeting.
“Our trail system is one of the true gems of Bucks County, and we’re excited to see it expand and improve,” said Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie. “We are thankful for our partners in the state and federal governments for their continued support of these projects that are enjoyed by so many of this county’s visitors and residents.”
Plans for the new leg of the trail add about one and a half miles to the existing path, linking Tamanend Park in Upper Southampton Township and Churchville Nature Center.
The project is expected to be in its design and engineering phase through 2023, said Director of Transportation Planning Rich Brahler of the Bucks County Planning Commission. The county has contracted with the Bucks County-based firm Gilmore & Associates to handle the trail’s engineering and design.
Brahler said he expects construction could begin in 2024 and last between 18 months and two years. Current estimates put the costs of construction at about $2.8 million.
“We’re too early in the engineering phase to know exactly what kind of complexities we might run into as we do that,” Brahler said.
“We’re hoping to wrap this up by the end of 2025 for sure – hopefully earlier if we can,” he added.
In the coming years, developers plan to extend the rail trail to Newtown Borough.
The first phase of the trail, which runs two and a half miles from County Line Road through Tamanend Park to Bristol Road along SEPTA’s former Newtown Branch rail line, officially opened to hikers in April. The trail connects at the county line to Montgomery County’s Pennypack Trail, which continues for more than six miles to Rockledge Park.
The trails are part of an 800-mile network of bicycle trails known as “the Circuit” that connects the Delaware Valley.
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