A 2.7 mile long section of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail between Cementon and Laurys Station in northern Lehigh County was dedicated on Monday in Cementon and is now open to the public.
The $180,000 construction project was built upon the rail/trail right-of-way that was, according to Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham, acquired by Lehigh County for $165,000 in 2002. Cunningham noted that the Wildlands Conservancy managed the acquisition of the easements as he thanked all the people and the organizations that helped to make the dedication of the trail possible. "It takes a village to build a trail," Cunningham noted.
The featured speaker, John Quigley - Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, a native of Hazleton and a graduate of Lehigh University, said that the trail "connects people to places and to the outdoors. It is important for community revitalization. It connects people with the environment, reduces the demand for cars, offers recreation, involves sound regional planning, and develops strong community partnerships."
He asked that with the Growing Greener II money running out, "Are we going to continue to make these critical investments in the future. It is up to the people, partnerships, and community."
Allen Sachse - Executive Director of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor said that land acquisitions for the D&L Trail are over 99 percent complete. One he didn't believe it would happen. Now he is certain it we be completed. It's been a project in the works for over 20 years. The D&L Trail runs approximately 160 miles from Bristol to Wilkes-Barre.
The next sections of the D&L Trail to open are at Freemansburg, East Penn Township from the Lehigh Gap to the new boat launch at Riverside Park, from Jim Thorpe to the Nesquehoning Bridge, from White Haven to Glen Summit, and the erection of a pedestrian bridge across the Lehigh River linking the Weissport and Jim Thorpe trail sections.
The D&L trail from Cementon to Laurys Station is built over the former right-of-way of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. "The corridor was once used to transport anthracite coal to the Delaware Valley to Philadelphia," noted Cunningham. "The corridor is an important piece of Pennsylvania's historical, industrial and agricultural past. It includes coal mines, cement mills, farm land, iron mills, and now, casinos."