Did you know that one of America’s largest trail networks is in your backyard? This region is the proud home of the Circuit Trails, a vast regional network of hundreds of miles of multi-use trails that is growing each year. The Circuit connects our local communities, providing endless opportunities for recreating and commuting.
What is the Atlantic Avenue Trail?
The Atlantic Avenue Trail project envisions a 12-mile biking and walking trail that will run between East and West Atlantic Avenue, connecting 15 communities to important destinations throughout Camden—schools, universities, hospitals, museums, parks, waterfronts and jobs. This proposed trail will be a part of the Circuit Trails network, and is also considered a segment of the Cross-County Trail.
Why does this trail matter?
Right now, there are few designated places to walk or bike safely in many of the towns along Atlantic Avenue—people often use the busy road to get around on foot or by bike. The Atlantic Avenue Trail project is designed to add new walking and biking infrastructure in the county, introducing a beautiful urban walking and biking trail parallel to the traffic on this busy county road
When will trail connections in my community be done?
This trail vision is generating a lot of excitement! Trail building is a long process that takes ongoing efforts and advocacy from many civic groups, city, state and county agencies and representation and nonprofit organizations. Each one- to two-mile phase is expected to take between two and five years. Future years will include further exploration of funding and partnerships which will support trail development as well as additional planning and wider community engagement. Check in with your local city council and municipality!
What’s been done so far?
One of the things we have been up to recently is promoting the vision for this trail! You may have seen us at one of your community events over the past few years or noticed a booth at a Camden County or Heights in Progress event. These events are being held to gauge interest and generate community support.
A feasibility study has been completed for the trail which suggests how a trail system may connect communities, improve the local economy, and benefit public health. Read the study here. This feasibility study has assisted us in segmenting and prioritizing the trail, and we applied for a construction grant over the summer of 2018! Keep your eyes out for news that should be coming soon!
What’s in the works?
Camden County submitted a proposal to fund design and engineering of a first phase trail extending from Merchant Street in Audubon to Station Avenue in Haddon Heights. Phase Two will travel along Atlantic Avenue through Hi Nella from W. Somerdale Road to Wakonda Road. Both phases are awaiting news on design and construction funding.
How can I participate? How can I get involved?
Good question! You can help in a variety of ways:
- Participate in Planning! As segments move forward there will be ample opportunity to participate in public meetings that help inform the design plans. Engagement to the community is critical to ensuring that this proposed trail meets the needs of the local community. Join the Camden County’s listserv.
- Talk to your Municipality! The more interest in trails locally, the more likely it is to happen.
- Become a Member of Rails to Trails Conservancy. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy co-leads this project, promoting the trail, coordinating funding and serves as a clearinghouse for information. Membership supports ongoing advocacy for trail building throughout the United States.
How much will it cost?
Trail funding is a complicated process that involves many steps along the way from concept plan to design to construction. Often, with a trail of this length, the project will need to be divided into phases, each with its own funding process. Previous trails have cost between $1 and $2 Million per mile, and funding rounds typically accommodate one mile per funding source. The estimated cost of the full 12-mile trail is $12 Million - $24 Million, depending on funding source.
Is any of it funded?
This trail is not yet funded, though funding has been received for some of the prior planning efforts (like the feasibility study). Most trails average 5-10 funding sources (local, federal, state, county, and private foundations) coming together to make the project financially feasible. Camden County has applied to the state’s TAP (part of the federal Transportation Alternatives Fund) funding to build out the first phase between Audubon and Haddon Heights.
Who is leading this process? Who will own the trail?
Trail building is a long process that takes ongoing efforts and advocacy from many civic groups, city, state and county agencies and representation and nonprofit organizations. Camden County and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy are leading the charge to develop the trail by building community awareness and creating a vision for the trail and the Circuit Trail network, finding financial resources to construct the trail, and coordinating efforts among the impacted municipalities. This trail will be publicly owned, either by the county or the municipalities.
Who will maintain the proposed trail?
Currently, the municipalities are paid by the railroad to maintain the corridor between East and West Atlantic Avenue. The municipalities would likely continue to be responsible for maintaining the corridor when a portion is turned into trail.
The Atlantic Avenue Trail represents a creative partnership involving local communities, county and municipal agencies, volunteer groups, The Circuit Trails, trail organizations, and private foundations. The trail is an official part of the Circuit Trails, but segments of it are under the lead of different organizations and agencies. Local communities will help advocate for the trail. Local government agencies will own and maintain the trail. The Circuit Trails will connect the trail through links to greenways and urban trails. Trail organizations will help find funding and acquire land. Private foundations will fund the advocacy and planning that goes in to trail development.
What about the railroad?
The Beesley Point Secondary line has been a huge part of the development and history of the towns that run along it. Many local townships celebrate the rail history and enjoy watching the trains rolling through. The railroad is still actively serving clients down the line and is not expected to disappear any time soon. There will be many landowners who will need to be involved as this project advances, including Camden County and the surrounding Municipalities. The railroad has expressed a willingness to work with the County but specific negotiations will come at a later date.
Is it possible to build a trail alongside a road and railroad tracks?
Rail-with-Trail is a trail that is located on or directly adjacent to an active railroad. Because these trails have been proven to benefit both the trail-user and the railroad, there are now over 340 Rail-with-Trail in the United States. Rails-with-Trails have been shown to reduce trespassing, litter, and misuse of railroad tracks while improving pedestrian safety, the environment and local economy. A trail of this type could turn Atlantic Avenue into a true multi-use transportation corridor for cars, trains, pedestrians and cyclists. Check out Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s report America’s Rails-with-Trails for more details!
Who do I talk to when I have a question?
Please direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, (267) 332-4004.