MOUNT HOLLY >> Burlington County’s push to develop another 20 miles of pedestrian and bicycling trails by 2025 got a lift this week as the Board of Chosen Freeholders advanced the construction of two new trail projects that will connect existing parks and show off some of the county’s most stunning natural landmarks.

The Board of Chosen Freeholders voted Wednesday to approve a $3.7 million contract for the construction of the proposed Amico Island to Pennington Park trail. The planned 4-mile pedestrian and bicycle path will begin within Amico Island in Delran and end at Pennington Park in Delanco, linking two of the county’s most popular parks and further bolstering the county’s network of interconnecting trails through the Rancocas Greenway, a collection of some 1,200 acres of parks and open space territory the county has preserved and maintained along the Rancocas Creek.

The board also announced the start of construction of Phase I of the planned Arney’s Mount trail project that will link the nearby Kinkora Trail between Mansfield’s Community Park and Springfield’s Veteran Memorial Park with the county’s other network of trails within the Greenway. The proposed path will also loop through county-owned land surrounding Arney’s Mount in Springfield, which at 240-feet above sea level is the highest point in Burlington County.

Both trails projects are being funded entirely with federal grants the county secured to expand the county’s network of pedestrian and bicycling trails.

“From the Delaware River and on through the farm belt and into the wonderous Pinelands, Burlington County is home to some of New Jersey’s most varied and beautiful natural scenery, wildlife and history. Our trails and parks allow all our residents the opportunity to experience and enjoy these resources,” said Freeholder Linda Hynes, who is the board’s liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and Parks. “These trails also provide healthy recreation for children, seniors and entire families. Expanding our network is an investment I’m proud we’re making.”

Amico Island to Pennington Park Trail

The contract for construction of the Amico Island to Pennington Park trail was awarded to the Richard E. Pierson Construction Co., which was the lowest, responsible bidder for the project. Their bid was also slightly below the planning engineer’s estimate.

The 4-mile, handicap-accessible trail begins at Amico Island Park, the 55-acre peninsula at the confluence of the Rancocas Creek and Delaware River that is renowned for its natural scenery and mix of wildlife and terrain. The trail will continue east through Riverside and across the Delanco-Riverside Bridge and beneath the River Line light rail bridge and through Delanco to Pennington Park, a 150-acre area that offers views of the Rancocas Creek as well as its own network of trails plus playgrounds, picnic areas and two dog play areas.

Both county parks will act as trail heads, and the planned trail route also passes by Whomsley Field, a popular Riverside municipal park and recreation facility.

In addition to the trail, the county plans to make improvements at both Pennington and Amico, including bike racks, bicycle repair stations, kiosks, and additional parking and picnic tables.

“Pennington and Amico Island are already two of most popular destinations in our parks system and this trail will only enhance them,” Freeholder Hynes said. “Families will be able to walk or bike the trail and enjoy the natural beauty and passive recreation available at both sites.”

The new trail will also be part of the larger Rancocas Greenway Trail the county has planned to run across 30 miles and through 13 communities on both sides of the Rancocas all the way to the Ocean County border, where it will connect with that county’s trail network.

“Our vision is for a hiker or cyclist to be able to take our trails from one end of the county to the other and onto Ocean County. Conceivably, you will be able to go from the Delaware all the way to the Atlantic,” Hynes added.

Construction of the Amico Island-Pennington Trail could begin in early fall.

Arney’s Mount Trail

Construction of Phase I of the Arney’s Mount Trail is expected to kick off later this month and will consist of a new trailhead off Tower Drive in Springfield with parking for cars and horse trailers, as well as a handicap-accessible, path that will loop for 2.2 miles around Arney’s Mount and through county-preserved property around the hill.

Plans also call for the construction of separate turf equestrian trails and so-called “adventure trails” up and around the mount, which offers views across the county as far as the Philadelphia’s skyline.

“Burlington County is so fortunate to be home to such a natural wonder and we’re thrilled to finally provide our residents with a safe way to access this hidden jewel,” Freeholder Hynes said.

The county awarded the $2.8 million construction contract to Command Company Inc. in March and construction is expected to finish early next year.

Phase II of the project calls for the development of a new 3.5-mile connector trail that will extend from the Mount west and then north through preserved farms and open space to the county Fairgrounds off Route 206. That section is still in the design and permitting phase and is not anticipated to be ready for construction until sometime next year.

Adding up to 800 miles

The new trails will add to the county’s existing 50 some miles of regional and park trails and more than 1,000 acres of developed parkland, including the county’s recently completed section of the Delaware River Heritage Trail.

The trails will also be part of the Circuit Trails, a planned network of over 800 miles of trails through Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer counties as well as Philadelphia and four suburban counties in Pennsylvania.

Currently over 300 miles of trails have been constructed on the Circuit Trails network and advocates are pushing for a total of 500 miles to be completed by 2025.

The Freeholders approved a resolution last year expressing the board’s support for the Circuit Trails and affirming the county’s commitment to develop its part of the interconnecting network, which includes the Schuylkill River Trail and Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, the Manayunk Bridge and the Cooper River Trail.

“As an avid marathon runner, I know how wonderful it is to have a peaceful and safe place to stretch your legs and enjoy all the natural beauty and history our county and region has to offer,” Hynes said. “I’m overjoyed that we can be part of this regional network and its promise to provide even more trails and destinations for our families to walk, run or bicycle through.”

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