Carbon County has been the recent focus of progress on the D&L Trail.
Beginning in Lehighton, a new trailhead, parking lot, and pavilion is being completed on the northeast side of the Route 209 Bypass - Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Boulevard and Maiden Lane near Dunbar's Beverage.
At the new trailhead, there are curb cuts and there will be an improved crossing at Maiden Lane. From the south side of Maiden Lane, the trail will follow the existing paved service road that follows the west side of the Lehigh River to the Mahoning sewage treatment plant.
Just before the service road passes underneath the Bridge Street bridge that joins Lehighton to Weissport, a new project is planned to connect the bridge to the service road. It will utilize the alley which is located on Route 209 - Bankway St. between Castle Grill and RJ Walker.
This connection, which is part of the Carbon County Connectivity Project, will allow bikers and hikers a way to travel from the Weissport trailhead, across Weissport, down the alley way connector to a stop sign where it will join the service road to the Mahoning sewage treatment plant.
Continuing south, the service road passes by the old sewage treatment plant along the Mahoning Creek. Volunteers are creating a trail to connect this portion of the D&L Trail with the trail along the Mahoning Creek that runs for about a mile terminating at Mahoning Mountain Road. There are plans to build community gardens along the route.
At the Mahoning sewage treatment plant, the paved road forks, with the paved road continuing into the treatment plant, and the main portion of the road and ending at an orange gate.
From this point going south, the D&L Trail Continues on a chopped limestone surface Along the form of right-of-way of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. This portion of the trail continues to follow the west bank of the Lehigh River.
Although the trail is close to the river, it is heavily overgrown. Volunteers have been removing the growth and plan to install benches to allow trail users to rest and view the river.
Just south of where the trail passes the Pennsylvania Turnpike bridge over the Lehigh River, the borough of Lehighton will install a shelter. They will be recycling a pavilion from the Lehighton pool and it will be used as a rest area/shelter.
As the D&L Trail approaches Rt. 895, an intersection known as Marvin Gardens, the trail currently drops into a steep ramp.
This is where the second part of the Carbon County Connectivity Project will take place. The steep ramp will be graded to become ADA compliant, and the trail will snake around the pavilion and cross Rt. 895 with a PennDOT ADA compliant pedestrian crossing.
"If the money holds out, the remaining part of the project is to put in a delineated trail from Route 895, along Riverview Road down to the East Penn Boat Launch," said Scott Everett, Trail Manager for the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. " it would be similar to the trail that runs south of Launch Road towards the Lehigh Gap."
In Weissport, the parking lot has recently been paved. The original design didn't allow for proper drainage and had been paved with the kind of fine stone used on the trail.
At Parryville, there are currently two vehicular bridges over the canal: one that had been used by Savage Cement, and a new bridge that was installed during the turnpike construction. Plans are to leave the new bridge and remove the old bridge.
In Jim Thorpe, an application has been made to add a retaining wall and extend the trail from its current termination near the Packerton railroad bridge to connect to a pedestrian bridge over the Lehigh River near the Jim Thorpe sewage treatment plant. The pedestrian bridge is planned to go out for bids in 2014.
Because the D&L pedestrian bridge may be under construction at the same time the Route 903 bridge over the Lehigh River is due to be on the construction, there is a concern that the causeways, raised areas to support cranes during construction, may affect the hydrology of the river. PennDOT is looking into this concern, and if it should be a problem, the D&L pedestrian bridge may be delayed.
"We are making substantial progress connecting the trails in the Lehighton area," said Everett. "We are very excited about that."