PPL parcel may one day be part of Rail-Trail system

By JIM RUNKLE

POSTED: March 16, 2010

McELHATTAN – The Wayne Township supervisors approved a subdivision request Monday evening that might one day be a part of the proposed Rails-to-Trails system connecting Pine Creek’s trail to Castanea and Lock Haven.

The action followed a series of meetings in which PPL discussed transferring four small properties, but, according to township officials, the issues became more complicated than originally thought. The supervisors decided to move ahead with this one property and continue discussions and research in connection with the others.

The approval is contingent upon a favorable review by the Clinton County Planning Commission.

The plan is to donate 10 acres of the company’s power line right-of-way to Wayne Township. The property is part of the old railroad line that runs from the landfill scales to Castanea. The portion to be transferred is a 65-foot wide corridor from from the scales to the Youngdale Road.

The parcel is also a portion of the proposed rail-trail covered by earlier feasibility studies. Under the terms of the agreement, the township will pay PPL $1 and pay related transfer expenses.

The move represents another in a series of modest steps taken by the township to facilitate an ambitious plan for a lengthy Rails-to-Trails addition that could eventually connect the township to the Castanea Train Station.

For now, the concept includes converting the right-of-way into a hiking/biking path.

Last year, the supervisors also spent just one thin dollar – plus a $500 processing fee – by approving the acquisition of more than 5.5 acres of property along the former New York Central Railway, from PPL (Pennsylvania Power and Light Corp.).

That purchase represented about four miles of a six-mile segment that includes a mix of private and public ownership. The supervisors would eventually turn the property over to a governing agency to be included in the overall initiative to convert the former railway into a Rail-Trail, anywhere from 33 to 66 feet wide.

Walking, hiking and bicycling would be permitted on the path, but motorcycles and four-wheelers would not be allowed.

The property transfer was facilitated by Dennis Norman, township engineer, who acted as local liaison with the energy company.

The original local Rails-to-Trails project, Pine Creek Trail, was voted by USA Today as one of the “10 great places to take a bike tour.”

The 60-mile trail travels through the Pine Creek Gorge, and the Jersey Shore end of the trail is only 12 miles from Lock Haven University.

This Rails-to-Trails initiative would develop a 12- to 14-mile connector trail from Castanea Township to the current trail head in Jersey Shore, bringing the trail even closer to campus and into this area.

The eventual destination, a train station in Castanea, represents a $500,000 restoration project that began about two years ago with the support of the Lumber Heritage Region of Pennsylvania.

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