Extensive trail network study underway in Allentown
Citing long-reaching benefits in transportation, recreation and economic development, the City of Allentown has launched a comprehensive trails network feasibility study that will be completed in 2009 and provide a detailed framework for system build-out and usage.
The plan will seek ways to interconnect Allentown’s already extensive trail network, improve access to city destinations and bring the new network closer to more households. Connectivity with neighboring trails will also be incorporated into the plan, making Allentown an important hub in a rapidly growing regional network.
Through a state grant and money from the Trexler Trust, the city has retained Greenways, Inc., a nationally recognized consulting firm that specializes in trail network planning, design and usage. The company has worked on hundreds of projects in the United States and worldwide, including ones in Austin, Tex.; Greenville, S.C.; Tucson, Ariz.; and several across Pennsylvania. Greenways President Chuck Fink introduced the year-long, multi-faceted plan in front of nearly two dozen city residents at a public open house January 22, 2009, at City Hall.
A 26-member task force encompassing key stakeholders in education, health and fitness, public works and surrounding communities will guide the process. Greg Weitzel – Allentown’s Parks, Recreation and Trails Director – will lead the process. Milestones in the plan include exploring legal feasibility, physical inventory and user demand, which will lead to a trail concept plan by the end of June. The second half of the year will tackle issues such as maintenance, financing, signage and marketing. The final deliverable in December 2009 will be a comprehensive document that provides actionable direction and priorities for the city to implement.
Progress toward completion of the plan will be documented on Greenways’ website starting in February 2009.