Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Phase One and Phase Two

As the Ligonier Valley Trail is discussed, you will hear references to Phase One and Phase Two. Phase One includes the secured rail bed that the Township has been working on improving since it was acquired in December 2005, and a proposed "Share the Road" portion along People's Road to the YMCA soccer field parking lot.

Bethlen Communities generously provided the property for Phase One by signing a twenty-five year lease for the purpose of a rails-to-trails project on the section of rail bed they own from Weller Field to People’s Road.

Western portion of Phase Two indicated, and Phase One

The Township has supported the improvements to Phase One through financing and manpower. In 2007 and 2008, three pipes were reinstalled where others had decayed or corroded over time. This allowed the rail bed to become passable for people, machinery and vehicles. Clearing has begun, and will continue, to prepare for grading and bridge building.

Western portion of the rail bed, facing the Borough

In 2008, the Recreation Board hired Morris Knowles & Associates to perform a Surveying and Structure Inspection Service for the site of the bridge. This study was completed, and the information was shared in 2009 with the Water Conservation District to prepare for the proper permits and inspections to build the bridge and ramp.

Phase Two is a huge extension of the trail that includes several "Share the Road" miles and "Safe Routes" in the Borough and Township. This part of the trail requires safely designed crossings, signage and road improvements, but on a large part exists today.

The Township and Borough have joined together in pursuing a DCNR grant for a Feasibility Study for Phase Two. The map on the side bar shows the extent of this project. It begins at the Ligonier Valley Rail Road Association's Darlington Station in the west, and continues along the Old Lincoln Highway, and parallels Route 30 to the Compass Inn in Laughlintown to the east. North it will end at the Nature Park in the Ligonier Township Municipal Complex. South it will go along Route 711 to SAMA, and Linn Run State Park via Route 381.

Eventually we would like to see the trail go beyond our boundaries and continue through the Loyalhanna Gorge; and north and south on Rt. 711, connecting trails, towns and people in all directions.

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