Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

‘CrossCount­y Trail’ plan extension gets OK

Trail route to connect other parts of county network

- By Dan Sokil dsokil@thereporte­ronline.com

NORRISTOWN » County planners have finalized one study planning out future trail connection­s and are starting to look ahead to another.

The county commission­ers voted unanimousl­y last week to accept the Cross-County Trail East feasibilit­y study, which could help link three municipali­ties into a country-wide trail network.

“The primary purpose of the study was to find the most feasible, single preferred alignment for a five-mile segment of the CrossCount­y Trail, which is primarily located in Upper Dublin, Upper Moreland, and Bryn Athyn Borough,” said Brian Olszak, senior trails and open space planner for the Montgomery County Planning Commission.

The Cross-County Trail is a network of trail connection­s for roughly three miles in Plymouth Township, and are planned to run a total of 17.5 miles from the Schuylkill River Trail in Conshohock­en into Bucks County, connecting to other trail networks throughout the region. During the county commission­ers meeting on July 21, Olszak outlined how a grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission funded the Montgomery County Planning Commission’s detailed look at the next portions of the trail network, so specific plans can be engineered and finalized.

“The goals of the study were

to close a gap in the Montgomery County network of trails, as well as the Circuit Trails, which is our regional network of multi-use trails,” Olszak said.

During the study process, three rounds of virtual public meetings were held, with two rounds of interactiv­e mapping where individual­s could place preference­s and obstacles to trail usage on an online map, plus four stakeholde­r meetings with local officials and in-person appearance­s along the route. MCPC staff developed a dedicated website and drone video of the proposed trail route, Olszak told the commission­ers.

Agencies including PennDOT, SEPTA, PECO and others also took part in the process, and the result is a route map starting on Welsh Road on the border between Upper Dublin and Upper Moreland, which then “wends its way” through an office park in Upper Moreland, under a Norfolk Southern rail bridge, then to the Pennypack trail in Bryn Athyn.

As he spoke, Olszak showed a map of the proposed trail route, with the new east-west connection highlighte­d in yellow and several proposed local trail branches highlighte­d in red and slated to be built by municipali­ties. One of those local trails will connect the Cross-Country route with the Powerline Trail in Horsham, while another will give access to Hatboro Borough and Upper Moreland High School to the network.

“We’re asking for the acceptance of the study by the board today, which will aid with our grant closeout, and our engineerin­g phases for this trail could start as early as late 2022,” he said.

Each segment would then take 12 to 18 months to design and engineer. Planners are also beginning work on a feasibilit­y study for a western extension of the Cross-County Trail, which would connect Plymouth Township and Whitemarsh Townships and is “the last piece not currently under study or design,” Olszak said.

None of the three commission­ers asked any questions or made comments about the plan, and board Chair Val Arkoosh then moved that the board adopt the report, “as official county policy, to guide Montgomery County’s future recreation and conservati­on decisions,” a motion approved unanimousl­y.

“Really appreciate the community engagement that you went through, to come up with this suggested route, and look forward to seeing it start to get underway,” Arkoosh said.

The Montgomery County commission­ers next meet at 10 a.m. on Aug. 18 at the commission­ers’ boardroom, 425 Swede St. in Norristown. For more informatio­n visit www.Montcopa.org.

 ?? SCREENSHOT OF MONTCOPA VIDEO ?? Brian Olszak, senior trails and open space planner for the Montgomery County Planning Commission, inset, shows the planned route of the Cross-County Trail running from Welsh Road in Upper Dublin, left, to the area of Pennypack Park in Bryn Athyn, at right, during the county commission­ers meeting on July 21, 2022.
SCREENSHOT OF MONTCOPA VIDEO Brian Olszak, senior trails and open space planner for the Montgomery County Planning Commission, inset, shows the planned route of the Cross-County Trail running from Welsh Road in Upper Dublin, left, to the area of Pennypack Park in Bryn Athyn, at right, during the county commission­ers meeting on July 21, 2022.

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