|By: Lea Kahn , Staff Writer , Lawrence Ledger||As published 10/13/2005|
The next link in the Lawrence Hopewell Trail is expected to open in 2006, but no decision has been made on the type of material, such as asphalt, for the path.
The next link in the Lawrence Hopewell Trail — a path through Mercer County Park Northwest — is expected to be open next year, the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Task Force learned this week.
The task force met Tuesday night at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s headquarters in Lawrence. Nearly 30 people — members and supporters of the task force — attended the meeting.
The Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) is a proposed 20-mile-long loop that would connect Lawrence and Hopewell townships. The proposal was introduced in 2001 and since that time, several segments have been built.
Mercer County officials are preparing a request for proposals from engineering firms to help design the path through Mercer County Park Northwest, said task force member Leslie Floyd of the Mercer County Planning Department.
Most of the one-mile-long path through Mercer County Park Northwest will take advantage of the existing farm roads on the property, Ms. Floyd said. It will begin on Keefe Road and end at the picnic grove in the Rosedale Park section of the county park off Federal City Road. The Keefe Road entrance will be aligned with the extension of the trail from the township’s Village Park. That portion of the trail — from Village Park to Keefe Road — is expected to open next summer, said Lawrence Mayor Pam Mount, a member of the LHT task force.
The material for the path, such as asphalt, has not been determined, officials said.
Meanwhile, plans are under way for the Hopewell Township portion of the trail. One segment already has been built — a 1.2-mile-long portion that was completed earlier this year. It runs along the Pennington-Rocky Hill Road and Titus Mill Road, from Wargo Road to Old Mill Road.
Hopewell Township Committeeman David Sandahl told the LHT task force that representatives of the township, the county, the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed, BMS, Educational Testing Service, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation met in August to discuss likely routes in Hopewell.
Portions of the path would likely be built through the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed property and meander across the township to the former Lucent Technology property on Carter Road. There are plans to create another leg of the path, from the BMS property in Hopewell Township to Mercer County Park Northwest.
Sheree Davis, coordinator of the DOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, told the LHT task force that the Lawrence Hopewell Trail “fits nicely” with the agency’s plan.
Since 1995, the DOT has focused on reducing roadway congestion by increasing opportunities for bicycle and pedestrian trails, Ms. Davis said. The state agency wants to build 1,000 miles of trails by 2008, she said, adding that it has already constructed 225 miles statewide to date.
Lawrence has applied to the DOT for grants to build portions of the trail, including a $225,000 grant to build a one-mile-long path through the township-owned Carson Road Woods. That grant application was filed in April.
But the nonprofit Friends of Carson Road Woods opposes the plan to build a path through the 183-acre parcel. The group would prefer that people use the existing unpaved trails in the park.
The township also applied for a $895,000 DOT grant in August to pay for a 2.5-mile-long section of the trail to be built, starting at Lewisville Road and Princeton Pike. At the intersection of Lewisville Road and Princeton Pike, one leg would turn south and cross Princeton Pike at Lenox Drive. It would follow Lenox Drive to the township-owned Brearley tract.
The other leg of the trail would turn north at the intersection of Lewisville Road and Princeton Pike. It would be built along Princeton Pike and would turn west at the boundary of the Joseph H. Maher Ecological Center, which is owned by the township, and end on Fackler Road.
Township officials do not expect to learn the fate of the applications before the end of the year, Municipal Manager Richard Krawczun said.
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