Quakertown Borough and Richland Township

Rail with Trail

The Quakertown Rail with Trail project is a proposed section of the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail in Upper Bucks County, which would connect the newly completed Upper Bucks Rail Trail to Quakertown Borough’s downtown center.

Upper Bucks Rail Trail

In addition to completion of a section of the Highlands Trail, development of the rail with trail project will also expand the greater Philadelphia area’s Circuit Trail Network, which has a goal of 800 miles of connected trails in the region. Rail with trail development will allow for direct trail access to the growing downtown Quakertown area, which has seen major public and private investment in the redevelopment of former industrial properties immediately adjacent to the proposed trail corridor. Pennsylvania’s travel and tourism industry generates over $43 billion annually from visitor spending and supporting over a million jobs. Trail development will also leverage this economy, as Quakertown will realize an immediate and direct economic benefit from area residents and tourists that use the trail and stop to explore Quakertown businesses, its antique and historic districts, and attend community events, such as the highly successful Arts Alive! and Autumn Alive! Festivals, the Upper Bucks Brewfest, and the summer concert series. Additionally, residents and business owners will realize an economic benefit as property values for properties near the trail typically increase in response to trail development. Furthermore, the trail will provide a needed transportation alternative for an area that is not currently served by passenger rail or bus service.

Rail with Trail Map_03_10_2021

Quakertown Rail with Trail

Benefits and Existing Investment

Currently the Upper Bucks Rail Trail does not connect directly to the population and retail center of downtown Quakertown. The 2.2 mile rail with trail project will extend the trail through Richland Township and into the heart of downtown Quakertown. The project presents an opportunity to expand an already well-used recreation facility, provide a connected active transportation corridor, and improve a portion of an underutilized rail corridor into a community asset. The design, engineering, permitting, and construction of the rail with trail project will positively impact the local and regional economies, nature and recreation-based tourism, and provide a transportation alternative. More broadly, the rail with trail project will expand the 300-mile Highlands Trail and 800-mile Circuit Trail networks providing new recreation opportunities for the region. Momentum exists in the Quakertown region as AMC, local municipalities, Quakertown Alive! and the DVRPC work together to further develop trails in upper Bucks County. Additional support and investment will ensure the successful extension of the trail into downtown Quakertown and expansion of two of the region’s major recreation and active transportation networks. Ultimately these investments complement the transportation goals presented by President Biden’s administration to expand infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists and Pennsylvania’s Statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan 2020-2024, endorsed by Governor Tom Wolf, who states recreation facilities “link communities, connect children to the outdoors, and serve as economic engines for small towns and big cities to attract tourists.”

For over a decade, Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has worked with regional project partners to develop the Highlands Trail in eastern Pennsylvania, with a significant section being the Upper Bucks Rail Trail, which took seven years to develop from initial planning to the 2020 ribbon cutting. AMC works with community partners including local municipalities, the Bucks County Planning Commission, the U.S. Main Street Program “Quakertown Alive!”, SEPTA, and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) to expand trail resources in upper Bucks County. Funding for the Quakertown area rail with trail development project will leverage additional funding and resources of these partnerships to ensure project success and will contribute to trail-related outreach and events in downtown Quakertown.