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State funding will help trail work move forward

Submitted by admin on Monday, 14 March 2011No Comment

1300104036 98 State funding will help trail work move forward

State funding will help trail work move forward

Ocean County will use a $350,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation to advance construction plans of the 15.6-linear-mile park known as the Ocean County Barnegat Branch Trail.

The Ocean County Board of Freeholders was recently advised by the state that the grant money was being made available to the county to assist in the construction of the fifth phase of the trail, according to a press release from the county.

“We are very pleased to be the recipients of this grant,” said Freeholder James F. Lacey, who serves as liaison to the trail. “it will help us in our efforts to continue construction of this park.”

Lacey noted that of the 95 bikeway applications submitted statewide, 12 grants were awarded. Ocean County received the second highest award. according to the press release, the money will be used to help build a 2.4-mile section that would run through a portion of Lacey Township from Oyster Creek to Lacey Road. the design work of the section is expected to begin later this year, and construction of the section could begin in 2012. Phase V also includes improvements to the two rail trestles crossing the Oyster Creek canals adjacent to the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant.

“It’s important that we continue with the momentum in building the trail and seeking grants from the state in order for the project to move forward,” Lacey said. “Construction of the fifth section of the trail will mark over 8 miles of contiguous trail and ensures the trail’s continuation north to Toms River in the near future. this would bring us close to the halfway mark of constructing this trail.”

In the meantime, the fourth section of the trail, which extends from Route 532 in Waretown northward about 1.5 miles to the Oyster Creek, is scheduled for construction this summer.

The Barnegat Branch Trail, when completed, will be a 15.6-mile linear park that runs from Barnegat Township to Toms River Township.

The Ocean County Board of Freeholders has been constructing the Barnegat Branch trail in phases, with the first three sections now complete.

Construction of the third phase of the trail was completed late last fall.

“this section travels through a beautiful area of Ocean County, with Cedar Creek being a centerpiece,” Lacey said. “this park is unique to Ocean County and features areas that residents and visitors may not have been able to experience, since they are deep in our natural woods. each time we add to it, the park grows in popularity.”

Ocean County has previously received $313,000 from the DOT to construct Phase III of the trail. In addition, the county has received $300,000 from the DOT to construct the fourth section of trail.

With this latest grant award, Ocean County has now received $963,000 in grants from the DOT Local Aid Bikeway Program.

The Barnegat Branch trail follows the existing right of way of the former Barnegat Branch Division of the Central Railroad of new Jersey.

“Under the county’s plan, this abandoned rail line is being improved to link Barnegat Township to Toms River Township, and in the process will offer residents and visitors a new type of recreational trail experience,” Lacey said.

“this trail not only offers the user the opportunity to see nature at its best in Ocean County, it offers access to Ocean County’s premier park sites and contributes greatly to the county’s tourism activities,” said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “it offers the perfect mix of activities for county residents and visitors.”

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