Martic to post 'no horseback riding' signs for rail-trail
BY DEAN LEE EVANS, Correspondent
Martic Township will post "no horseback riding" signs at two spots along its portion of the Enola Low Grade rail-trail.
Supervisors voted Monday to request that its road department install signs at the Providence-Martic municipal boundary and at a parking area where the trail crosses Route 324.
Discussion on the matter was swift, with little comment from the board. There was no public comment on the matter.
After the meeting, supervisor Duane Sellers said horse waste and trail damage were the two factors that prompted the township to ban horseback riding.
"For every horseback rider that wants to use the trail, we have three or four others that ask us to ban them from the trail," Sellers said.
He said unlike laws that require dog owners to clean up after their pets, no such laws exist for horses.
Sellers said horse manure on the trail creates a safety hazard for bicycle riders and walkers who have to dodge manure piles, placing other trail users in danger.
"We all know the damage that horses can cause on asphalt roads," he said. "When a horse is in full trot on the soft material used on the trail, that causes additional maintenance issues."
Sellers said that costs township taxpayers more money in maintenance to the trail.
The township's portion of the trail has few areas easily accessible to horseback riders.
Sellers said the area where the signs are most needed is where the trail crosses Marticville Road (Route 324) at Red Hill Road near a bypass route around a narrow stone bridge that carries part of the trail.
"People with large trucks and horse trailers have enough room to park (at the crossing) and unload several horses," he said.
Sellers pointed out that the parking area would only be available for a brief time.
In the coming weeks, the state department of transportation will begin work on a project to integrate the bypass used by local residents as part of a newly redesigned Route 324 bypass that would meet state guidelines.
While future parking for trail users is expected to be part of the road project, it is uncertain if the new parking area would be designed to discourage parking for larger vehicles towing horse trailers.
Martic Township does not have its own police force to monitor compliance of trail laws.
Sellers said the township relies on the Pennsylvania State Police and state game commission officers to watch over the trail and enforce park regulations.
In another matter, the board approved action to move forward with an engineering proposal to examine structural needs for the 130-foot high trestle bridge over the Conestoga River near Route 324 at the Conestoga Township boundary.
"Martic and Conestoga are co-owners of the bridge," Sellers said.
The trestle is closed to any access due to safety issues.
"There used to be a railing along the trestle, but it is now gone," Sellers said.
The study will be funded in part by a $140,000 grant aimed at trail improvements.
"We would like to get as much done (on the bridge) while the Route 324 project has things shut down," Sellers said.
When the trestle is eventually opened for public use, it will serve as a significant link to portions of the trail east of the township.
Sellers said one item the engineering study would look at would be the type of decking material for the bridge -- one capable of allowing an ambulance or brush truck to traverse the trestle.
Fire trucks don't need to cross the trestle because access for those vehicles is available at opposite ends of the bridge.
"Rail trails seem to be the buzz word around the state right now," Sellers said. "Had we had more time, we could have applied for more (grant) money."