The Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority is working on a number of projects throughout the Midvalley and Upvalley that will open new portions of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail and make using the trail easier and safer for visitors.
Trail and environmental projects manager Owen Worozbyt see the upcoming additions as a win for the trail and its visitors.
“As we continue to build more of these sections, the easier it gets for people to use,” he said. “I’m an avid biker and runner. I see it as overall beneficial as we connect more trails and we make it easier to navigate the county without having to use a car.”
Building out these sections takes planning, funding and coordination. From Throop to Carbondale, work is being done to see the plans through.
In Throop, a new section of the trail connects the Midvalley to Scranton through the former Marvine colliery. The trail, which opened this spring, gives cyclists a safer path to take after the trail ends in Dickson City. Additionally, a boat ramp was recently installed with the help of a $50,000 grant from the Fish and Boat Commission.
The trail begins on Boulevard Avenue next to the county recycling center and follows the river to Parker Street in Scranton, crossing railroad tracks and passing by several old bridges used by the coal mining operation there decades ago.
In Dickson City, residents and visitors can jump on the trail at the Elm Street Trailhead on Boulevard Avenue and enjoy views of the river. Work is being done to connect a portion of the trail from Eagle Lane to Railroad Street.
“We’ve been trying to bring back some river access and walking trail access for the community,” said borough council president Jeffrey Kovaleski, who often walks the trail with his family. “We’re just thrilled to have the trail through the towns. It is good for the community.”
Dickson City provided $20,000 for the purchase of the land and LHV received grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation totaling an estimated $570,000 for the project.
The trail continues from Railroad Street in Dickson City to West Lackawanna Avenue in Olyphant, where another project will include the installation of a bridge for pedestrians to cross. This project will cost an estimated $130,000 and is currently under construction with an anticipated completion date of this fall.
Follow the trail to Blakely and you will find a busy trail crossing at the Depot Street Trailhead. Fines from drivers who ran red lights in Philadelphia will pay for safety improvements at that crossing. The borough received an estimated $120,000 through PennDOT’s Automated Red Light Enforcement program.
Improvements to the trail, in coordination with the borough and PennDOT, will create a crossing at Depot and River Streets. Work involves rerouting the heritage trail and installing signs and flashing beacons that warn drivers about pedestrians. That project is expected to wrap up in 2023.
“We will be doing some landscaping and closing an existing piece of trail,” said Worozbyt. “It is something we can do to improve the existing trail and safety.”
In Mayfield, LHV plans to create a recreational area extending the trail to Chestnut Street, which will include river access and a walking trail. The project has been designed and received a $170,000 grant from DCNR. Worozbyt is seeking additional funds for construction.
There are also plans to improve safety at the Meredith Street trail crossing, where pedestrians must yield to cars entering and exiting Route 6 before accessing the trailhead. The project is estimated to cost $500,000 and LHV has received grants from PennDOT and the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Multimodal fund.
Finally, in Carbondale the city is working on a sidewalk improvement project. Designs are in the works and a grant has been given by PennDOT’s Multimodal fund. This portion of the Lackawanna Heritage Trail there will travel through the city.
“This will take people through town to check out restaurants and businesses,” Worozbyt said. “It is not a bad thing.”
Worozbyt is excited about all of the ongoing projects and hopes the improvements make the trail more convenient for the residents of the Midvalley and Upvalley.
“I am excited when we open something new,” he said. “People say it’s the best kept secret. I have fun doing them.”