BRISTOL TOWNSHIP >> Regional and local officials joined the community on Dec. 16 to open a new segment of the Delaware and Lehigh Trail in Bucks County.

The 1,170-foot, or .35 mile trail segment connects two existing segments of the Delaware Canal Towpath, creating seven miles of continuous trail from Bristol Borough to Falls Township and enhancing a recreational amenity for Lower Bucks County residents.

“We are proud to make outdoor recreation safer and more accessible to residents of Bristol Township and throughout the region,” said Craig Bowen, Bristol Township Council President.

Added Patrick Starr, vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Vice Chair of the Circuit Trail Coalition, “This complicated connection links two long-disconnected segments of the D&L Trail, severed 60 years ago with the widening of Route 13. I commend Bristol Township and the Bucks County TMA for making this new link in the Circuit Trails possible and thank PennDOT for piggy-backing this on the Route 13 reconstruction.”

The Delaware Canal Towpath is part of the 165-mile D&L Trail extending from Bristol to Wilkes-Barre and serves as an important connection in the Circuit Trails, the greater Philadelphia region’s network of hundreds of miles of trails. The canal towpath is also the longest completed segment in the Pennsylvania of the East Coast Greenway, a vast trail network connecting the region with major cities from Maine to Florida.

“The D&L Trail is an iconic portion of the Circuit Trails, and is emblematic of our goal of connecting people with clean waterways,” said Andrew Johnson, program director of Watershed Protection at the William Penn Foundation. “We’re pleased to see one of the final gaps on this trail closed, so that thousands can safely traverse it while experiencing this outstanding portion of the Circuit Trails.”

The D&L Trail is now 92 percent complete because of partnerships like the one that made the project possible. When fully connected, the D&L will be the longest multi-use trail in Pennsylvania, connecting people to nature, culture, communities, recreational and our nationally-significant industrial heritage,” said Elissa Garofalo, President and Executive Director, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.

Prior to the completion of the new segment, the trail gap at Route 13 and Green Lane in Bristol Township forced trail users to navigate unsafe conditions along a highly-traveled road across a six-lane road without pedestrian safety measures in order to connect with the trail on the other side. The project, which broke ground in September, institutes a number of new pedestrian safety measures to create the new trail connection.

The trail and crossing includes a 10-foot-wide paved sidewalk with a grass buffer from where the trail previously dead-ended. The trail then narrows to five-feet-wide to pass under the Pennsylvania Turnpike. In addition, a new crosswalk accommodates trail users crossing Route 13 where the trial becomes an eight-foot side path with a five-foot grass buffer between the street and trail. Pedestrian signals, crosswalk, ADA compliant ramps and new grading were also added.

Where the trial crosses Green lane a new crosswalk, automatic flashing lights and an auditory alert will guide trail users safely back to the canal trail. An at-grade railroad crossing has been re-engineered to accommodate a wider trail. Detectable warning surfaces on the sidewalk and railroad crossing signage have been installed, and the existing railroad signal and audio alert will remain.

The project was managed from conception to construction by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Bucks County Transportation Management Association. Engineering for the project was performed by Traffic Planning and Design, with construction performed by James D. Morrissey, Inc. in cooperation with the PennDOT Route 13 reconstruction project.

The project was funded through a $249,000 grant prepared by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (on behalf of the Bucks County Transportation Management Association) by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Regional Trail Fund. The DVRPC Regional Trail Fund is funded through a grant from the William Penn Foundation.

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