A $1 million N.J. Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant awarded through the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission will fund construction of a one-mile segment of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail through the Mount Rose Preserve along Carter Road in Hopewell Township. This new segment will connect the existing trail off Pennington Rocky Hill Road across Carter Road to Cleveland Road in Lawrence Township.
“Once this segment is constructed, we will be 93 percent of the way toward completion of the planned 22-mile Lawrence Hopewell Trail through public and private lands in Hopewell and Lawrence Townships. For the people in our community who enjoy biking and walking on the LHT, this is a huge step forward,” said Hopewell Township Committeewoman Vanessa Sandom, who serves of the LHT board. “I want to recognize the leadership and hard work of Township Administrator Paul Pogorzelski in leading the effort to secure DVRPC’s funding.”
“The Lawrence Hopewell Trail is a quality-of-life enhancement for Mercer County residents. Many people have told me how much they appreciate having this terrific recreational resource at their disposal, and I’m thrilled to see the overall project moving one step closer to completion,” said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, whose county planners Leslie Floyd, Planning Director, and Matthew Lawson, were also instrumental in securing the grant awarded by the DVRPC, the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization serving nine New Jersey and Pennsylvania counties including Mercer. This commission focuses on improving transportation, promoting smart growth, protecting the environment and enhancing the economy.
“We have long been supporters of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, a great example of a biking and walking trail created by the community, for the community,” said Chris Linn, manager of DVRPC Environmental Planning. “The LHT’s approach to trail building is certainly unique in our experience, with a volunteer-driven board of directors locating, planning and building a trail literally foot-by-foot. We look for applicants with a track record of achievement and projects that are ready to build. The LHT meets our criteria in creative ways.”
The county will install a mid-block crossing to take bike riders and walkers safely across Carter Road before the end of the year, according to Floyd. The trail will be built from the northwest of the property, behind Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Carter Road campus, and travel northeast, behind the former AT&T property, to Cleveland Road. Construction is expected to begin next spring.
The $1 million grant is expected to cover most of the estimated construction costs of $1.2 million. This cost is in alignment with national urban trail construction. It generally follows the same process as roadway construction, as it must be designed, engineered, permitted, constructed, and include related traffic signaling, crosswalks, etc. (For more information on trail costs, please visit https://lhtrail.org/about/trail-faq/.)
“The LHT started as an idea for a community project in 2002 when Bristol-Myers Squibb invited representatives of Lawrence and Hopewell Townships, county and state agencies to join an effort to create a biking and walking trail through the two towns,” said Becky Taylor, LHT co-president. “This grant enables us to build an outstanding segment of the trail, made possible through the preservation of the land by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Mercer County government and a number of other key players.”
Eleanor Horne, LHT co-president, noted that as one of the last segments remaining to be built, the Mount Rose section represents a key achievement for the trail’s completion and northern connection to Lawrence Township. “This segment also will add another mile to the Circuit Trails, an amazing network of 750 miles of interconnected bicycle and pedestrian trails connecting people to jobs, communities, and parks beginning south of Philadelphia, extending north to the LHT, connecting to the East Coast Greenway to the east and to the Appalachian Trails to the west,” Horne said.
“This addition enables riders and walkers to continue from a terrific LHT section that runs by the Whiskey House on Pennington-Rocky Hill Road over to Carter Road and through the Mount Rose Preserve. For area residents, this is an important addition to our community trail system,” said Hopewell Township Mayor Kevin Kuchinski.
“The Lawrence Hopewell Trail connects people to preserved lands and encourages outdoor exercise and enjoyment of nature,” said Michele S. Byers, Executive Director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We look forward to having Mount Rose Preserve and its newly-completed trails connected to other bicycle and pedestrian trails in New Jersey and beyond, and thank the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corporation and DVRPC for making this possible.”
The grant LHT will receive is provided by TAP, a competitive federal program providing funds for community based “non-traditional” surface transformation projects designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of the nation’s intermodal system. N.J. TAP provides $5 million in funding projects in the DVRPC region.
About Mount Rose Preserve
Mount Rose Preserve is owned and managed by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, Hopewell Township, and Mercer County. This land was preserved by these groups along with Hopewell Valley Citizen’s Group Inc., N.J. Green Acres Program, Stony-Brook Millstone Watershed Association, Hopewell Borough, Pennington Borough, Friends of Princeton Open Space, D&R Greenway Land Trust, Lawrence Township, and Princeton.