School Kill River Trail Project Brids the Gap Between Auburn and Hamburg –

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The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area celebrated the progress of the closure of the trail gap between Schuylkill and Berks counties.

Closing the gap creates a 9.5-mile segment of the trail from Hamburg to Auburn.

Members of the School Kill River Greenways Board of Directors celebrate the progress of closing the trail gap from Hamburg to Auburn during an event held at the restored Auburn School Kill River Trail Bridge on October 6. From left to right: John Wolf, Karl Laring, Ira Walton, Mary S. Timpani and Mandifitz Patrick. (Photo by Lisa Mitchell – MediaNews Group)

On October 6, cyclists, community members, and local officials gathered at the recently restored Schuylkill River Trail Bridge against the backdrop of the Schuylkill River.

“Connecting the community, that’s all.” — Schuylkill County Commissioner Barron L Hetherington

In connection with this event, the Schuylkill River Greenways will end at the restored Auburn Trail Bridge, following the Bertram section of the Schuylkill River Trail, riding six miles of foliage from Carnesville Trailhead in Hamburg. Encouraged cyclists. Many participants, including State Senator David Argar, arrived by bicycle.

“I was very impressed with the scope of this project and how it gradually linked the communities that needed to be linked, as well as the fact that it was full when we arrived at the parking lot in Carnesville. That’s what we want, “said Argall, a Republican who represents parts of Schuylkill and Berks counties, referring to people who took the shuttle from Carnesville Trailhead to the event. “Congratulations to everyone who made this happen.”

Senator David Argall and Elaine Schaefer, Executive Director of Schuylkill River Greenways, celebrate the progress of the Auburn Gap project that connects the community. (Lisa Mitchell – Media News Group)

“Today is a great day for Schuylkill County and a great day for Berks County,” said Tom Gerhard, Deputy District Director, representing US Congressman Dan Meuser. “Thank you for your hard work. I look forward to moving the project forward.”

Schuylkill County Commissioners Barron L Hetherington, George F. Halcovage Jr., and Gary J. Hess praised the progress in closing the trail gap.

“Connecting the community is all about it,” Heatherington said. “We need more time for recreation and more places to do it. Keep kids away from computers and video games and enjoy the natural resources we have. . “

“The pandemic spoke very strongly about how important it is for us to have natural resources and be able to escape,” said Harkovage. “It’s the family that does this together, and that’s the strength of what this is.”

“We will never give up the motivation and tenacity of this committee and the trail agency to do all this,” Hess said. “I will never give up until I’m connected from Philadelphia to the headwaters of the Schuylkill River.”

From left to right, Schoolkill County Commissioners Baron L. Heatherington, George F. Harkovage Jr., and Gary J. Hess over at the recently restored Auburn Schoolkill River Trail Bridge celebration event on October 6th. We commend the progress of the event project. (Lisa Mitchell – Media News Group)

Mike Shiragi, Project Manager, School Kill River Greenways Trail, said: ..

The restored structure is the former Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge, built in 1919 to cross the Schuylkill River and compete with the Reading Railroad for anthracite in Schoolkill County. The historic plate girder bridge is fitted with new concrete trail decks and steel railings.

Mike Szilagyi, Project Manager of the Schuylkill River Greenways Trail, talks about the Phase 1 restoration project of the Auburn Gap project. (Lisa Mitchell – Media News Group)

Financing

“Schuylkill River Greenways manages and manages a grant program called the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund, using both private and public resources and funding for basin-wide restoration projects from Philadelphia to the headwaters of Schuylkill County. Re-financed, said Tim Fenchell, Deputy Director of Schuylkill River Greenways.

Greenways has been around since 2006 and has funded projects related to abandoned mine drainage, stormwater, agriculture and restoration.

The restoration project of the Auburn Gap project included removing more than 120,000 cubic yards of coal waste from land near the sidewalk to prevent it from re-entering the river. Coal waste is recycled. According to Fenchel, the restoration completed last year included planting 2,000 native trees, shrubs and warm-season grass.

Schuylkill River Greenways builds and manages Schuylkill River Trails in Berks County and Schuylkill County with the help of several partners.

The Auburn Gap project was made possible by federal funding from partnerships with the Abandoned Mining Rehabilitation Department, the Open Mining Rehabilitation Department, the William Penn Foundation, and Schuylkill County.

Elaine Shaffer, Executive Secretary of School Kill River Greenways, said: “DCNR (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) provides us with a significant portion of Phase 3 funding.”

Loren Possinger, DCNR Recreation and Parks Advisor, said DCNR supports trail construction and Pennsylvania has the most rail trail miles in the country.

“We’ll add this quarter mile to the total,” Possinger said. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the ribbon cut.”

Auburn’s Jeanne and Kenporter donated an easement to the entire property that would allow access to the River Road from the Auburn Trail Bridge so that the trail could connect to the Auburn section of the SRT.

“This project wouldn’t have been possible without their generosity and support,” Schaefer said. “They were very generous and kind and had a community spirit and a community spirit. With such generosity with community members, we are like you in this county and this state. I am very lucky to welcome people. “

Schaefer also thanked project partners Auburnborough and West Brunswick Township, “Their cooperation and patience were very important to the success of this project.”

She also admitted that Bill Reichert of the Schuylkill Headwaters Association was initially at the forefront of the project.

Auburn Gap Project

Julia Hurle, Director of Schuylkill River Greenways Trails, talks about the next phase of the Auburn Gap project. (Lisa Mitchell – Media News Group)

Completed Phase 1 included access roads, grading the first trail, and repairing the trail between River Road and Auburn, costing $ 700,000. The recently completed Phase 2 is Lycoming Supply Inc in Williamsport. It was a pedestrian bridge repair at a cost of about $ 730,000.

In Phase 3, the restored bridge will be connected to four truss bridges and linked to a newly sloping Auburn Trail. The cost is estimated at just over $ 2 million and the project will be bid on later this fall and is expected to be completed by this time next year.

“The key to this project is to fill the Auburn gap where the trail between Berks and Schuylkill counties is interrupted,” said Haar. “We really want to bring the trail itself, the economic development that accompanies it, Berks County to Schoolkill County, and even more recreational opportunities.”

The restored bridge is open to trail users, but will not connect to existing trails in Auburn Autonomous Region until the fall of 2022.

Upon completion, cyclists and hikers will be able to travel the 9.5-mile section of the trail from State Street in Hamburg to Carnesville to Auburn. Now cross the restored bridge to River Road and connect with a short on-road section. To the Auburn section.

Over 75 miles of the School Kill River Trail are now open to the public throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. The multi-use pass extends 120 miles from Frackville in Schuylkill County through Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties to Philadelphia. For more information on the School Kill River Trail…

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