According to Scott Everett, trail manager for the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Inc., Carbon County will be the first of the seven counties to have its section completed on the 165-mile D&L Trail System.
In Carbon, the D&L Trail is about 30 miles long and runs along the Lehigh River, from Lehigh Gap Nature Center to the Lehigh Gorge State Park. Starting from the southern approach to the Appalachian/Blue Mountain and progressing northward, the following sections are complete: Walnutport Canal Towpath & Trailhead, Slatington Trailhead, Lehigh Gap Cementon, East Penn Township to Lehigh Gap, Weissport to Jim Thorpe, downtown Jim Thorpe to the Lehigh Gorge State Park, Nesquehoning Junction Trestle Bridge, and the section through the Lehigh Gorge State Park.
On Friday, Sept. 21, the D&L announced the dedication of three additional sections: Slatington Pedestrian Crossing, Lehighton Trailhead, Lehighton Spur on the west side of the Lehigh River from Route 895 in East Penn Township to the Lehighton sewerage treatment plant.
"I received a phone call a couple of years ago from the borough of Lehighton," Everett said. "When the Turnpike Bridge contract was awarded, they needed a way to get in and construct the project on the west side of the river, so they approached the borough of Lehighton about a construction easement. The borough of Lehighton offered to grant the easement if the contractor would put the trail in as part of that easement. The successful contractor, Walsh Construction installed that portion of the trail as part of their scope of work on the Pennsylvania Turnpike contract."
Here is an update on the Carbon County portion of the D&L Trail:
Ÿ The Trail is open from Slatington/Walnutport to the East Penn Township Lehigh River access at Launch and Riverview Roads.
Ÿ A 0.8 mile section of the Trail from Launch and Riverview Roads to Rt. 895 (across the Lehigh River from Bowmanstown), including an at-grade wheelchair accessible pedestrian crossing of Route 895, is in the grant application stage with construction expected to begin in the second half of 2013.
Ÿ The Trail, on the west side of the Lehigh River and north of Route 895, which passes beneath the Pennsylvania Turnpike bridge, and passes by the Lehighton sewage treatment plant, up to the municipal service road beneath the Weissport Bridge, is open.
Ÿ From the municipal service road beneath the Weissport bridge, there will be two alternatives. For bikers and hikers who wish to join the D&L Trail in Lehighton, a trailhead is near Dunbar's Beverages at the Route 209 bypass/Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Boulevard and N. Main Lane/Maiden Lane.
Ÿ For bikers and hikers who have come from the south to the municipal service road beneath the Weissport Bridge, a segment of trail, designed to be wheelchair accessible, is planned to ascend the hill behind the Castle Grill and provide access to the Weissport Bridge at grade level.
ŸThe Trail crosses the Weissport Bridge and continues on a 0.35-mile "Share the Road" basis on Bridge Street/Forge Street through Weissport, to the trailhead at the Lehigh Canal in Weissport.
Ÿ The Trail continues northward between the Lehigh River and the Lehigh Canal on the east side of the Lehigh River past the Packerton trestle bridge to the Jim Thorpe sewage treatment plant.
Ÿ A new pedestrian bridge will allow the trail to cross the Lehigh River from the Jim Thorpe sewage treatment plant to the Carbon County parking lot. Tentatively called the Mansion House Bridge, this pedestrian bridge crosses the river at a point where it is roughly 120 feet wide. Because the east side of the river is several feet lower than the west side, the bridge will slope slightly downhill from the west to the east. The bridge is currently in the permitting stage.
PennDOT has it scheduled to go out for bids in late 2013 with construction in 2014. The bridge is planned to be a new bridge, more than likely in prefabricated sections.
Ÿ The section between the Packerton trestle bridge and the Jim Thorpe sewage treatment plant is open but it is in rough condition. The D&L is seeking funding to upgrade this section to provide an accessible ramp to the new bridge.
Ÿ The Trail continues northward through the Carbon County Parking Lot to the trailhead at the northern end of the lot.
Ÿ From the trailhead, the already constructed trail runs northward, crosses the Nesquehoning Junction Bridge, and joins with the Lehigh Gorge trail.