ELMHURST TOWNSHIP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Lackawanna County is looking to create more recreational opportunities for its residents.
County officials are considering whether to turn some empty land it owns into a public trail for runners and bikers.
In 1980, Lackawanna County bought a ten mile stretch of land which is basically abandoned rail line that stretches from Dunmore to Jefferson Township.
County leaders now want to turn a portion of that land into a public trail.
If you drive over the twin bridges on Interstate 84, chances are you have no idea about the potential below.
Lackawanna County is considering creating a new walking trail under the massive structures which would stretch from the greater Dunmore area up to Elmhurst Township.
The trail would basically run parallel to Route 435.
“When you look at North Pocono are an area it’s the largest by land but has been underserved when it comes to recreation,” Bill Davis, Deputy Director of Parks & Recreation said.
An animation provided by PennDOT and county parks officials show what the future for the area could hold.
Commissioners are looking to create the trail now because transportation officials are planning to spend an estimated $100 million to rehab the twin bridges.
Some of that money will be used to fix a railroad bridge that could eventually become part of the trial and opened to the public.
“To have that bridge refurbished, that’s so huge for Lackawanna County because we have ownership of it and it could cost us money or we’d be fighting for grant money to fix it!” Lackawanna County commissioner Pat O’Malley said.
The project got a lukewarm reception from Commissioner Laureen Cummings.
She wondered if people would actually use a trail there.
“There should be a toll on them so we can tell,” Commissioner Laureen Cummings said.
As tracks in the snow in Elmhurst Township show, the area is already used illegally by quads and dirt bikes.
County leaders say they can create something that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.
“It won’t be like the LHVA (Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority) trail that’s paved. It’ll be like a crushed stone, dust-kind of trail,” Davis said.
While county leaders currently own about ten miles of land with the abandoned rail line, the trail at first would only involve about four miles.
Down the road, parks and recreation officials would like to extend it for the entire length.
The trail proposal is still a long way away.
Because of the PennDOT bridge project timeline, the new trail would most likely not be created for another five or more years.