A critical missing link in the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail system has begun construction, and now construction has halted.
After receiving a grant to construct the section of trail in 2005, the Carbon County Commissioners finally resolved a potential legal Gordian Knot of prior railroad deeds and rights-of-way to purchase an almost 4,000-foot long strip of land for the trail from the property owner, Frank Foster in August 2009. This opened up an undisputed roughly 1.3 mile right-of-way for the D&L Trail to run from the northern end of the Carbon County Parking Lot in Jim Thorpe to the Nesquehoning Trestle Bridge.
Following the land purchase, the Carbon County Commissioners issued a public advertisement for bidders. According to Carbon County administrator Randy Smith, "Bids were received from 13 companies for both the main construction and the optional fencing. All came in under the grant amount of $331,500. We were very happy to see they could complete the entire project without foregoing the alternate which was the split rail fence."
A cyclone fence will be installed between the trail and the active railroad tracks, and a split rail fence will be installed between the trail and the private property on the Lehigh River side.
The contract for both the trail construction and the optional fencing was awarded to S&K Construction of Tobyhanna.
Jim Aris, an operator driver for S&K Construction was rapping up the construction of the trail for the season. "There's only two of us left," he said from the cab of his power shovel. "We're wrapping it up because the ground is getting too frozen and we really can't work anymore."
"So far, we cut a 12-foot wide trail for a mile and a third," he explained. "Filled in with stone-based material, and then it gets covered with a stone dust."
Aris said that getting back on the project will be determined by the weather. He expects to restart in March and have the project completed in May.
When this section of the trail is completed, and a bridge across the Lehigh River near the wastewater treatment plant is erected in two years, the 165-mile long Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail will be nearly complete.