By: Lea Kahn , Staff Writer , Lawrence Ledger As published 11/25/2004

Mercer County TMA honors effort.

The Lawrence-Hopewell Trail was awarded the Transportation Leadership Award by the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association at its annual meeting Oct. 29 at the Nassau Inn in Princeton.
The award is given annually to individuals or projects that exemplify the mission of the Greater Mercer TMA, which is to promote the development of alternate modes of transportation, said Sandra Brillhart, the executive director of the nonprofit group.
For example, the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail can be used by pedestrians or bicyclists to reach destinations in Lawrence or Hopewell townships. The first segment of the 20-mile loop trail was opened earlier this year.
A portion of the trail, which is slated to run through the Lawrence Township-owned Carson Road Woods tract, has been the topic of much debate in Lawrence. Earlier versions of the trail called for it to bisect the 183-acre parcel, but the latest version calls for it to be placed along the edge of the tract.
The trail runs through corporate campuses, parks, schools, historic villages, fields, woodlands and also along existing streets, Ms. Brillhart said. When it is completed, it will link businesses, schools, parks, recreational and residential areas, she said.
It will enhance the quality of life in the region by providing a safe place for bicycling and walking, and an environmentally friendly and healthy alternative to automobile transportation, Ms. Brillhart said.
With the Educational Testing Service and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. serving as anchors for the trail, the path can be used to link BMS’ two campuses — in Hopewell and Lawrence. It also links the pharmaceutical company’s campuses with ETS’ Lawrence Township campus.
The Lawrence-Hopewell Trail is an example of what can be accomplished when the public and private sectors work together to benefit the community, Ms. Brillhart said. The two corporations worked with state, county and municipal governments to find land for the trail.
The Greater Mercer TMA is the first privately funded TMA on the East Coast. Over its 20-year history, it has developed and implemented numerous programs, including carpool matching as well as shuttle service development and management, she said.
It works with towns to identify sidewalks and paths that could be used as bicycle trails, Ms. Brillhart said. Also, it has developed a bicycle trail map for Mercer County, she added.
The Greater Mercer TMA was founded in 1984 with the help of the Mercer Somerset Middlesex Regional Council, which is now known as the Regional Planning Partnership. The nonprofit group is dedicated to sound land use planning, Ms. Brillhart said.

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