The counties of Bucks and Montgomery recently celebrated the opening of a mixed-use pathway joining trail networks of the two. Country officials and planners cut the ceremonial ribbon along a stretch of trail near Southampton Train Station, just a short hike from County Line Road, where Bucks County’s Newtown Rail Trail meets Montgomery County’s Pennypack Trail.
“This project is an example of what can happen when people put aside partisanship and work together,” said Bucks County Commissioners chair Bob Harvie. “It’s a great example of cooperation between governments, agencies, nonprofits and neighbors.”
Stretching two and a half miles along SEPTA’s former Newtown Branch on the Bucks County side, the Newtown Rail Trail reaches north from the county line to Tamanend Park in Upper Southampton Township. Trail developers plan to extend the rail trail to Newtown Borough. In Montgomery County, the Pennypack Trail continues for more than six scenic miles to Rockledge Park.
“As a self-proclaimed train geek, it is no surprise that my mind immediately goes to Promontory, Utah in 1869 and the Golden Spike ceremony,” said Evan Stone, director of the Bucks County Planning Commission. “The symbolism and significance of that event is not lost on me, as we now join ‘east with west’ and forge a new connection upon the historic rail bed that lies beneath us.”
Together, the trails are part of “the Circuit” – an 800-mile network of bicycle trails criss-crossing the Delaware Valley.
“This Newtown Rail Trail, [part of the] Circuit Trails, belongs to the entire region and makes it more attractive to live and do business,” said Patrick Starr, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
Design for the project was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Act 13 Marcellus Legacy Fund, Montgomery County and the William Penn Foundation. Construction was funded through PennDOT’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program. Design and construction costs totaled about $3.1 million.