Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
‘CrossCounty Trail’ plan extension gets OK
Trail route to connect other parts of county network
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.