def #143 07/28/10
COUNTY SEEKS STATE FUNDS FOR TRAIL PROJECT;
THIRD PHASE UNDER WAY
TOMS RIVER - While construction of the third phase of Ocean County's Barnegat Branch Trail moves forward, the County is seeking funds from the state
to help build a 2.4-mile section that would run through a portion of Lacey Township.
"It's important that we continue with the momentum in building the trail and seeking grants from the state in order for the project to move forward,"
said Freeholder Director James F. Lacey, who serves as liaison to the trail. "The sooner we get our grant applications in for the work, the more
favorable of a response we can anticipate."
Ocean County is seeking $1,061,398 from the state Department of Transportation to construct the fifth phase of the trail. The fifth section will span
2.4 miles from Oyster Creek to Lacey Road in Lacey Township.
"If selected for funding, construction of this phase could begin later in 2011," Lacey said. "Construction of this section of the trail will mark 7
miles of contiguous trail and ensures the trail's continuation north to Toms River in the near future.
"This would bring us close to the halfway mark of constructing this trail," Lacey said.
The Barnegat Branch Trail, when completed, will be a 15.6-mile linear park that runs from Barnegat Township to Toms River Township.
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has been constructing the Barnegat Branch trail in phases with the first two sections completed.
Construction started in early summer on the third phase of the trail and is expected to be completed by the fall.
"This section travels through a beautiful area of Ocean County with Cedar Creek being a centerpiece," Lacey said. "This park is unique to Ocean County
and features areas that residents and visitors may not have been able to experience since they are deep in our natural woods. Each time we add to it,
the park grows in popularity."
Ocean County has previously received $313,000 from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to construct Phase III of the trail. In addition, the
county has received $300,000 from the DOT to construct the fourth section of trail, which will be about 1.5 miles and go through Ocean Township.
Construction of that section is expected to begin in the spring of 2011.
The Barnegat Branch trail follows the existing right of way of the former Barnegat Branch Division of the Central Railroad of New Jersey.
"Under the county's plan, this abandoned rail line is being improved to link Barnegat Township to Toms River Township, and in the process will offer
residents and visitors a new type of recreational trail experience," Lacey said.
Upon completion, the Barnegat Branch Trail will join the list of 43 existing and proposed rail trail projects across New Jersey.
"The design of the Barnegat Branch Trail is sensitive to the changing landscape of central Ocean County," Lacey noted. "Trail visitors will experience
wooded areas in Barnegat and Waretown's southern reach before transitioning into an active-use corridor that parallels Route 9 north of Waretown.
"Residential and commercial neighbors border much of the trail through Lacey Township before it returns to forest and then sand mining in Berkeley
Township," he said.
The primary surface finish of the trail is a stone dust surface. As work progresses, the trail will feature a number of trail facilities including
community centers, comfort stations, trail signage and historical exhibits.
The facilities are being built in a style reminiscent of passenger and freight stations that once served Barnegat Township, the Forked River section of
Lacey Township, the Pinewald section of Berkeley Township and Toms River.
Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, noted that several Ocean County parks and
county natural land areas are located within walking or bicycling distance of the Barnegat Branch Trail including Lochiel Creek in Barnegat Township,
Berkeley Island County Park, Wells Mills County Park in Waretown and Enos Pond County Park in Lacey Township.
"This trail not only offers the user the opportunity to see nature at it's best in Ocean County, it offers access to Ocean County's premiere park
sites," Bartlett said. "It's a perfect combination."