County bike projects spring into motion

LOCK HAVEN — Progress on the Clinton County Rail Trail is moving along quickly. On Friday, the Pine Creek Township road crew began drainage pipe and grooming work on the 4.5-mile portion of the trail stretching from the Castanea Train Station to the Wayne Township Community Park.

It’s been a big couple of months for the rail-trail project. Last week, the state awarded $1.08 million to the county to design and re-construct an abandoned railroad bridge that will connect the rail-trail from Wayne Township to Pine Creek Township. Meanwhile, the county’s steady progress on the Castanea trail means it will probably open in late June or early July.

Because of the trail construction, the area from the train station to the Youngdale Road crossing will be closed for about a month to a month-and-a-half to hikers, bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts until the project finishes, according to Community Planner Greg Smith.

According to the tentative Rail Trail Action Plan provided by the county, the total cost of the Castanea to Wayne Township trail project is almost $200,000. It has already been factored into the 2018 budget.

After the work crew puts in the drainage pipes, the workers will lay stone for two parking lots (one in Castanea and one in Wayne Township) and lay the surface of the trail. Then, in about two weeks, DAECO Excavating in Lock Haven will install the split rail fencing and two gates for a homeowner at the Youngdale Road crossing.

The Castanea portion of the trail will also include an Enviro-Loo, which is a compact, outdoor composting toilet that “evaporates itself,” said Smith. Smith is purchasing a shed for the toilet from a local company, and it will be constructed to look like a railroad signal building. Other costs include trail signage and two calls to the PA One Call system to alert the system that workers will be digging where there is a gas line and a water main. Smith said the county will apply for grants to cover the Enviro-Loo and the trail signage, about $9,500 total.

The third phase of the county rail-trail is under legal negotiation, because it involves acquiring easements from homeowners along the proposed trail route in Wayne Township.

Despite the $1.08 million in state funding for the railroad bridge, the county is still waiting on about $84,000 in funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for half the cost of the engineering design of the bridge to connect Wayne Township from Spook Hollow Road to Pine Creek Township.

In addition to ramping up work on the rail-trail, Clinton County is working with six other counties to come up with a seven-county bicycle-pedestrian plan. Those counties are Clinton, Lycoming, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union. By pulling data from school districts, universities, large employers and municipalities, the seven-county consortium will be able to identify places where residents would like to add walking or biking paths, or places that need safety improvements, and submit a detailed plan in order to get state and federal funding for those projects.

The Middle Susquehanna Bicycle-Pedestrian Plan Advisory Committee formed last summer through SEDA-Council of Governments to get these initiatives going. Clinton County Planning Director Katie de Silva, former Keystone Central School District employee Bob Dwyer and Clinton County Housing Authority management aide Anthony Condor represent the county on the committee.

Anyone interested in contributing to the data set the committee is collecting, may visit the transportation page on the SEDA-COG website and click on “Public Survey” to record his or her responses.

On a similar note, Clinton County Commissioner Chair Pete Smeltz said the county Tourism Promotion Agency, under the direction of Julie Brennan, will announce Thursday which organizations will receive up to $50,000 in county tourism grants.