Outdoor recreation

Cyclists ride on the Northwest River Trail near Riverfront Park in East Donegal Township Friday, May 28, 2021.

A $330,000 state infrastructure grant awarded to Marietta is the last piece of a yearslong effort to complete the 22-mile bike and hiking trail next to the eastern banks of the Susquehanna River.

“We’re so excited,” Marietta Borough Council President Glen Mazis said of the award, which will connect the north and south ends of the Lancaster County Northwest River Trail in downtown Marrietta. Finally, perhaps next summer, he said, “We’re probably going to have the official trail opening, because we were waiting until it was absolutely finished.”

Currently, bicyclists have to momentarily detour through the borough’s downtown among car traffic on Front Street. The work to finalize a trail separate from car traffic, no more than a quarter-mile long, will likely take place in the spring, Mazis said.

The state grant program focuses on transportation projects that enhance access and safety across different ways of getting around, including walking, bicycling, driving and flying.

The other local grant recipients announced last week are:

  • $400,000 to Ephrata for an extension of the Warwick-to-Ephrata Rail Trail. It would extend from West Chestnut Street to the borough’s border, near the Autumn Hills Development in Ephrata Township, said David Burkholder, the borough's engineering project manager. The project is still in the design phase, he said.
  • $600,000 to Mount Joy for updated and enhanced crosswalks downtown to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. That includes pedestrian-activated flashing lights at crosswalks, and more prominent pavement markings, said borough manager Mark Pugliese. The project also includes new bus shelters to be built near a new senior living complex at the Gerberich-Payne Shoe Co. Factory. Pugliese said he is not sure yet when the project will begin.
  • $1 million to East Hempfield Township for a bridge replacement on Dairy Road. The bridge is needed to access several businesses on the dead-end street, township manager Cindy Schweitzer said. The project still needs an additional $700,000 to finalize, the manager said.
  • $990,000 to Manheim Borough for a redesign of Market Square to improve pedestrian access and safety by widening the square’s center island and reorganizing its parking spaces, said borough manager Jim Fisher. Fisher said he hopes construction can start in 2023.
  • $1 million to Quarryville to reconfigure one of the borough’s busiest intersections, at West Fourth and West State streets. The project will replace traffic signals that date to 1957 and add a turning lane, among other improvements. The next step for the borough is to begin the project’s design phase, said borough manager Scott Peiffer.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development grants also place an emphasis on economic development, something the river trail has already delivered to Marietta, Mazis said.

The trail has drawn a lot of new patrons to Marietta businesses, the council president said.

“Marietta's really been thriving the last couple years, and it's because of the trail.”

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