Trail is Really Going to Town

By on August 12, 2015

LR20150723_RailTrailMapThe newly printed map of the nearly completed Ephrata Rail Trail on the Ephrata Borough offices is the culmination of what many thought couldn’t be done only a few years ago.

But Ephrata Borough Manager Bob Thompson said the “dreamers” can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“When I joined the borough in 1989 the then executive director of the Ephrata Rec Center, Tom Grater, had this vision of a linear trail similar to the Wissahickon Trail in Fairmont Park in Philadelphia,” Thompson said. “Since that time, our staff has been planning for that trail in the borough.”

Ephrata Borough has planned and succeeded in trail construction along with Akron, Ephrata Township, and Warwick Township.

Steve Sawyer, Ephrata Township Manager, said it’s been a fun ride working on the trail so far. The township has finished the first of three phases and completed 1,250 feet of trail between Route 272 and Akron.

“It’s been exciting, our residents are excited,” he said. “It’s getting a lot of use and we’re hearing positive comments from those using the trail.”

Ephrata Township will work on its 1,500-foot second phase of the trail in 2016.

Completion of the trail is expected in 2018 when the final phase of the trail connects Millway Road in Ephrata Township to Rothsville Road in Warwick Township ­ half-way across the Cocalico Creek (see map), Sawyer said.

“The completion date all depends,” Sawyer said. “We won’t do our final work ­ meeting the trail in the middle of the Cocalico Creek ­ until Warwick finishes half way across their side of the creek.”

Thompson revisited the early developments that paved the way to build the trail.

“Creating a partnership with Akron Borough as well as Ephrata and Warwick Townships, led to the recognition of the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail or WERT,” he said. “What a great asset to the Ephrata Community. As far as the success of the trail, the amount of use that it experiences speaks for itself.”

Some updates on the Ephrata Rail Trail:

Much of the trail is established on the east side connecting Ephrata Township to Ephrata, with 9,800 feet in Ephrata, 3,800 feet in Akron Borough and 1,300 feet in Ephrata Township.

Hopes are that the Rails-to-Trails path will connect Lititz Borough to Ephrata Borough ­phased in over the next few years, with a targeted completion in 2018.

When completed, walkers, joggers, runners, hikers, and bicyclists could travel the entire way ­ a total of 43,800 feet ­ from downtown Ephrata roughly 8.3 miles.

The trail will wind along streams, through woods, along paved and non-paved areas, fields of corn fields and other crops on a path formerly used by the railway.

It’s already in place in portions of Lititz Borough and Warwick Township with a 4,500-foot-section that travels along Lititz Run stream near John R. Bonfield Elementary School to the Warwick Township municipal building on Clay Road.

In Warwick Township, the trail is expected to cross over East Newport Road as part of the 2015 Phase II project. Rothsville Station Road and Picnic Woods are targeted for the next phase set for 2016, while Meadow Valley Road is planned for the 2017 extension. The 2016 portion will span 5,300 feet, while the 2017 portion will span 5,600 feet.

The trail in Ephrata Borough is not entirely complete as many people might suspect. Thompson noted that the borough is planning to extend the trail north to Pine Street.

“The design work will be completed in 2015 and we plan on construction in 2016 subject to funding in the 2016 Budget and Program of Services,” Thompson said.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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