Efforts to create a continuous walking and biking trail from the Delaware River in Lower Bucks County, through the Lehigh Valley, to Wilkes-Barre in northeastern Pennsylvania are taking a huge step forward.
State and local officials gathered Thursday at the Kimmett’s Lock Trailhead in Allentown to announce a $7 million investment to link 140 miles and prepare for future expansion of the D&L Trail.
Funds will be used to fill trail gaps in the Borough of Catasauqua, Hanover Township and Allentown and acquire land to develop the rail trail on the west side of the Lehigh River from the Northampton 329 Bridge to the Pine Street Bridge , according to Executive Director Claire Sadler of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
In total, construction and land acquisition are expected to take five to eight years, she added, finally addressing complaints from people who have to walk multiple sections of the trail rather than one continuous trail.
State Senator Pat Browne secured $2 million in funding from the 2022-23 state budget. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is providing $5 million.
Top local stories delivered weekday mornings
When the portion of the trail through Luzerne County is completed, the trail will be the longest multi-use trail in the state, according to a press release ahead of the conference.
“When completed, the 165 miles of trail between Bristol and Wilkes-Barre will provide unparalleled access to the great outdoors of Pennsylvania. [and] will allow our residents to experience the beautiful natural landscape unique to our state,” Browne said.
Dunn said the action is important not only for public health, but also for attracting new residents to communities along the trail.
“We have all learned during the COVID pandemic how essential outdoor recreation is… for health, mental health, exercise, quality of life [and the] economic,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do for the Lehigh Valley, it’s the right thing to do for Pennsylvania.”
Along with Lehigh County, the trail passes through Bucks, Carbon, Luzerne and Northampton counties, according to the DCNR websiteand is open to users such as cyclists, joggers, hikers and anglers.
The Lehigh Valley Gap of the trail refers to the stretch along the Lehigh River between the Northampton 329 Bridge and the Hamilton Street Bridge.