The Bucks County Commissioners voted on January 6, 2016 to select the Doylestown based firm Boucher & James to provide design and engineering services for the planned Upper Bucks Rail Trail, which will be developed along a 3.3-mile stretch of unused track between Veterans Park in Richland Township, and the Bucks-Lehigh County line near Coopersburg.
The new rail trail in Bucks County is a key part of the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Network, a regional trail system that has evolved over the past several years under the leadership of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and a locally based Steering Committee that includes representatives from Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh and Northampton Counties.
According to John Brunner, AMC’s Mid-Atlantic Recreation Planner, success in getting the Upper Bucks Rail Trail underway was due to a “perfect storm of support” from municipal and county officials as well as residents who have been advocates for trail development across Bucks County, especially in the Quakertown Region.
“In just a few more years, people will be able to enjoy a new trail that runs between Quakertown and Coopersburg, connecting to the Saucon Rail Trail, and ultimately the South Bethlehem Greenway into downtown Bethlehem. This new section of the rail trail began with a shared vision of trail connectivity and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our Highlands Trail Steering Committee, Richland and Springfield Townships, and the Bucks County Planning Commission and County Commissioners provided huge support,” said Brunner. He added that residents and businesses in the area will benefit from having “increased access to safe places for outdoor activities like walking and bicycling.”
In addition to serving as a key component of the Highlands Trail Network, the Upper Bucks Rail Trail has also been identified as a priority trail in several other local and regional plans such as the recently adopted Springfield Township Park and Recreation Plan, the Bucks County Bicycle Plan, and as a component of greater Philadelphia’s growing network of trails known as The Circuit.
Planning is taking place to extend the Upper Bucks Rail Trail south through Quakertown and to areas west of Route 309 using a combination of existing local trails, sidewalks and side-paths along roadways.