LHT Pennington Connector Opens 2014

Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) Trustee Dr. Jill Young and her son Andrew, 3, LHT Consultant Andrew Reilly, LHT Co-President Eleanor Horne, LHT Trustee John Murray, Bristol Myers Squibb Director of Corporate Communications and Community Affairs Frederick Egenolf, Pennington Borough Mayor Tony Persichelli, U.S. Representative Rush Holt, former Pennington Councilman Tom Ogren, Hopewell Township Mayor Vanessa Sandom, LHT Co-President Becky Taylor, LHT Trustee Lindsey Bohra, and LHT Consultant Heather Kearns-Latini cut a ceremonial ribbon to officially open the Pennington Connection to the Lawrence Hopewell Trail. (Photo by LHT Trustee Cie Stroud)

Congressman Rush Holt and Hopewell Valley officials and business leaders today cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the Pennington Connection to the Lawrence Hopewell Trail. The connection was made possible through a grant secured by Congressman Holt and through Bristol-Myers Squibb’s construction of an additional quarter mile of trail linking the existing trail on Pennington Rocky Hill Road to the new section going into Pennington Borough.

“The founders of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail have worked hard for years to plan, fund, and construct this network of recreational trails open to all. The Borough of Pennington has made a real contribution to the livability of the region by linking to the LHT loop. I am pleased to have been able to help by securing $266,760 in federal funds to support the completion the Pennington Connection we are officially opening today,” said Congressman Holt. “In the most densely populated state in the country, we all know how special it is to have so many partners come together to make a more livable community. Like many fortunate enough to live in the area, I often walk and bike on the Lawrenceville Hopewell Trail, which adds to the quality of life of in our community.”

The Lawrence Hopewell Trail is a biking and walking trail looping through Hopewell and Lawrence Township.  It is the creation of a grassroots collaboration formed in 2002. Access from Pennington Borough to the LHT was made possible with the completion of what is called the Pennington Connection. The “connection” was proposed by the Borough to link King George Road on Pennington’s border with the nearby LHT along Pennington-Rocky Hill Road.

The project was completed in two phases. The first phase, from the Stony Brook Bridge through a large wetland area, was constructed last year and funded largely through federal grants to Pennington Borough. The first phase features a 600-foot-long retaining wall with railing. The concrete retaining wall was necessary due to a sharp drop off in grade along the west side of Pennington-Rocky Hill Road. The retaining wall was a major contributor to project cost of $456, 929.

The main source of funding for the first phase was the $266,760 federal grant secured with the assistance of Congressman Holt in 2009. Pennington Borough obtained a second grant of $24,700 through the federally funded Recreational Trails grant program. The balance of funding was provided by the Borough’s Open Space Trust Fund. The fund is supported by the borough’s 1 cent open space tax.

In order to complete the “connection,” during the spring Bristol-Myers Squibb extended the trail on its Pennington-Rocky Hill Road frontage from Old Mill Road in Hopewell Township south toward Kind George Road in Pennington.  The LHT now traverses the full length of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s property on Pennington-Rocky Hill Road, linking with LHT segments on Wargo Road and at the neighboring Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed to the west, Mercer Meadows Park to the east, and the Pennington Connection to the south.

“Both Hopewell Township and Mercer County were valuable partners with Pennington Borough in the project’s first phase. The Township funded the design work and permitting as well as oversaw the construction of the project on behalf of Pennington Borough. Mercer County for its part, replaced a long expanse of guard rail between Pennington-Rocky Hill Road, a county road, and the trail,” said Tom Ogren, former Pennington Borough Councilman, who was instrumental in working with Congressman Holt to secure the grant.

Pennington Borough Mayor Tony Persichelli added, “We thank Congressman Rush Holt for helping us to obtain the grant for the extension of the LHT and to former Councilman Tom Ogren along with Paul Pogorzelski of Hopewell Township for their efforts in helping to complete this project.  The extension on the outskirts of Pennington Borough will benefit all citizens of Hopewell Valley.”

“The Pennington Connection is a major step forward in a community-wide goal to enable Hopewell Valley residents to travel throughout our area by walking or biking,” said Hopewell Township Mayor Vanessa Sandom. “We were pleased to partner with our neighbors to make this connection.”

“The Lawrence Hopewell Trail is grateful to all of our partners in the community for helping us create a community amenity that allows families and individuals to enjoy our beautiful surroundings on foot or bicycle. We are thrilled that with the support of Congressman Holt, former Councilman Tom Ogren, and all of the other municipal, county and federal officials involved with the Pennington Connection, we are now able to safely and easily travel along the trail into Pennington and vice versa,” said Becky Taylor, LHT co-president.

“The Lawrence Hopewell Trail is truly a community-led project that benefits the community.  The completion of connectors, such as the Pennington Connector, extends the trail and increases the number of people who can use it safely,” said Eleanor Horne, LHT co-president.