The Saucon Rail Trail Advisory Committee met July 25 in Upper Saucon Township to continue planning improvements to the .
An inter-municipal agreement involving the trail's four host municipalities--Lower Saucon Township, Upper Saucon Township, Hellertown and Coopersburg--has been tentatively approved and is being rewritten to address some language concerns regarding indemnification (a term that has to do with liability issues), officials announced at the meeting.
Lower Saucon Township Manager Jack Cahalan said he believes the agreement will soon be ready for implementation.
The approval of the inter-municipal agreement is a pressing concern because in three of the four municipalities in April and May. Coopersburg's section of the trail remains unfinished.
The section of the trail that is completed and currently open stretches from Bachman Street in Hellertown south to Preston Lane in Upper Saucon Township.
Tom Beil, Upper Saucon Township manager, said that since its opening the rail trail has been the recipient of much praise.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback and everyone is very happy with what has been made available so far,” he said.
Beil also said a map of the trail and surrounding area has now been made available for those utilizing the trail.
A copy of the map is available for download on the Upper Saucon Township municipal website.
Beil said that in Upper Saucon, problems related to the trail's use have been few and far between to date.
“There have been no real problems with the trail--," he said. "Everything has been good.”
In other business, committee member Roger Jurczak of Lower Saucon brought the committee up to date on the for installation along the trail in Hellertown and Lower Saucon.
“Six mile markers are constructed and ready for installation soon," Jurczak said.
He went on to explain the unique mile marker numbering system the committee decided upon several months ago.
"They decided to use the original numbers for the mile markers that the railroad used, so that as more rails convert to trails the numbering could...be consistent," Jurczak said. "Number 53 is just about dead on with Bachman Street, and fifty-and-a-half is just beyond where ," he added.
Jurczak also said that each mile marker will include the name of the municipality in which it is located and the name of the trail itself.
"We followed a mile marker system close to what is used on Pennsylvania highways," he said. "So that was the reasoning for the municipality, the name of the trail and the mile marker designation."
Due to a lack of funding, Upper Saucon currently does not have a plan to install mile markers. However, officials said they would be willing to adopt the mile marker system being implemented in Hellertown and Lower Saucon if individuals are interested in donating to fund their installation. Donations would be acknowledged with name plaques on the posts.
Upper Saucon would need approximately six markers, estimated to cost less than $1,000.
John Brunner, a representative from the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Steering Committee, attended the meeting to discuss exploring options for the Highlands Trail to connect with the Saucon Rail Trail.
The Highlands Trail is in New Jersey and New York, where it begins near the Hudson River. The trail stretches across northern New Jersey--following the Highland ridges--to the Delaware River at Riegelsville.
Brunner said the Highlands Trail Steering Committee would eventually like the trail to extend into Pennsylvania to connect with the Saucon Rail Trail, the Appalachian Trail and other existing trails, in effect creating an unbroken interstate trail network.
The next Saucon Rail Trail Advisory Committee meeting will be Aug. 22 in Lower Saucon Township.