Delaware Water Gap to Portland, Pa.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Northeast Regional Office has received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to complete a feasibility study for a multi-modal trail that will connect Portland, Pa., and Delaware Water Gap, Pa., and complete the western end of the Liberty Water Gap Trail.
In November 2011, RTC put together a study committee consisting of local stakeholders to assist the research team. Planning consultants Campbell Thomas & Co. have been hired to facilitate the completion of the study, which will look at all aspects of the area running parallel to RT 611 and the Delaware River.
Portland, Pa (pop. 579), is a tiny borough on the west bank of the Delaware River in Northampton County, Pa. The Delaware River borders the east side of the borough. There are a few small shops, including an outfitter, antique shop and furniture company. A major East Coast trail system, the Liberty-Water Gap Trail, is a developing statewide trail network across New Jersey that currently ends/begins at the historical foot bridge crossing the Delaware River at Portland.
When completed in New Jersey, the Liberty-Water Gap Trail will run 160 miles across the state from Liberty State Park in Jersey City to Knowlton Township along the east bank of the Delaware River, in New Jersey.
The town of Portland and the footbridge lie just four miles south of the heavily visited Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The name "Delaware Water Gap" is applied to a town, a national recreation area as well as a geographic feature. The National Recreation Area encompasses land on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey side of the Delaware River. The majority of the recreation area lies in Monroe and Pike counties in Pennsylvania, and Warren and Sussex counties in New Jersey.
The final report is now complete, download the Feasibility Study
The study began in October 2011. The purpose of our study is not solely to create a safe pedestrian and bicycle route, but also to examine how existing amenities within the communities can be linked, improving on existing facilities in Portland and Delaware Water Gap, Pa., as well as the surrounding destination points.
An initial kick-off meeting was held in November 2011 in Portland to introduce the Study Team (RTC staff and Campbell Thomas, Inc.) and invite members of the community to participate on the study committee. The role of the study committee is to advise the team on existing situations, previous relevant projects and any planned initiatives that could have an impact.
The first of several planned public workshops was held in January 2012 in Portland, with approximately 75 people attending. A second public workshop was held in Delaware Water Gap, Pa., in July 2012.
The steering committee had their final meeting in March 2013 with the release and review of the final report. A robust discussion for the next steps in the project followed. Much of the work of the local support group involves having the local and regional planning organizations include the project on their approved Transportation Improvement Projects (TIP). The Feasibility Study will be added to the Open Space plans for both Monroe County Planning and Lehigh Valley Planning.
Please contact Patricia Tomes, RTC Northeast Office, 717-238-1717 for more details and how to get involved.