By: SNJ Today Staff
CHERRY HILL, N.J. – A one-mile segment of a planned 33-mile Cross County Trail will be built in Audubon and Haddon Heights using $1.2 million in grant funding awarded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Representatives from the Freeholder Board, the Camden County Parks Department, the Borough of Audubon, Haddon Heights Township, and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy formally made the announcement July 22.
The one-mile trail segment will stretch along Atlantic Avenue from Merchant Street to Station Avenue, ultimately connecting as part of a planned 33-mile cross-county pedestrian and bicycle trail that will run from the Delaware River waterfront to the southeastern tip of the Camden County line in Winslow Township.
“This is a priority stretch of the larger 33-mile project, but each segment is a major project in and of itself and brings tremendous value to the surrounding communities,” Freeholder Jeff Nash, liaison to the Parks Department, said in a press release. “There is a tremendous benefit to public health and the local economy when we work with our local partners to make this asset available for public use.”
Tom Sexton, Director of the Northeast Region of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, spoke about the importance of the NJDOT grant and the trail as a part of the broader project.
“Efforts to build the Atlantic Avenue segment have been underway for over a decade with an emphasis on identifying strategies to fund the project.” Sexton said. “This segment and the planned county-wide pedestrian and bike trail are part of the Circuit Trails—the 800-mile planned trail network that will connect nine counties in Greater Philadelphia and New Jersey.”
The County will receive $1.2 million in Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program (TAP) funding for the Atlantic Avenue Trail project. The DOT grant is awarded to help local governments successfully implement pedestrian and bicycling transportation projects in their communities.
Last year, Camden County implemented an extensive public outreach campaign to educate the public about the potential benefits of the county-wide trail and to seek input to where residents were interested in traveling and how. The planned trail will connect existing and new trails, as well as a bike lane network, to create a trail system connecting the furthest reaches of Camden County.
In April, the County awarded a $4.5 million contract for the design of approximately 19.5 miles of the trail to the engineering firm NV5. The firm will work over the next four years to create a preliminary and final design for more than half of the Cross Camden County Trail. This segment, along Atlantic Avenue, is part of that contract and will be among the first segments to be designed. This will allow the County to use the $1.2 million grant to construct the trail within the timetable called for in the grant.
“Camden County is committed to pioneering green initiatives and sustainable solutions that help our communities lower their carbon footprint and protect our natural resources,” Nash said. “The trail represents a bi-modal means of transportation by which residents can navigate the area by foot or bicycle, instead of by motor vehicle. It serves as an important reminder that even at the individual level we can play a significant part in combating the destruction of our environment.”
According to the county, of the approximately 33 miles of trails, nearly two miles of the trail are completed, and about one mile of trail is under preliminary or final design. About another 1.5 miles of the trail have been completed, but will require widening.
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