Sixth phase of Barnegat Branch Trail to begin construction in 2012
Ocean County will seek funds from the state Department of Transportation to assist in the construction of the sixth phase of the Ocean County Barnegat Branch Trail – a linear park that will run from Barnegat Township to Toms River Township when completed.
“We have been successful in securing funding from the DOT to continue this very popular project,” said Freeholder James F. Lacey, who serves as liaison to the trail. “I am optimistic our request for a grant in the amount of $321,865 will meet with the state’s approval. The state has been a strong partner in this project and has helped move the construction of this trail forward.”
The sixth phase of the trail will span about 3/4ths of a mile from Maryland Avenue to Hickory Lane in Berkeley Township.
“If selected for funding, construction of this portion of the trail could get under way by the summer of 2012,” Lacey said.
He noted that the sixth portion of trail will run contiguous with two miles of trail already constructed in Berkeley Township.
“Once completed we will have 2.77 miles of contiguous trail running through Berkeley Township and ensuring the trails continuation north to Toms River in the future,” Lacey said.
Meanwhile, the County expects to break ground soon for the construction of the fourth section of the Ocean County Barnegat Branch Trail.
“This section will span about 1.5 miles and will travel from Route 532 or Wells Mills Road in Ocean Township to the Lacey Township border at Oyster Creek,” Lacey said. “Once this section is completed, the trail will run contiguous for almost five miles from Burr Street in Barnegat to just south of the Oyster Creek.”
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded the contract for the work to M.L. Ruberton Construction, Hammonton, in the amount of $447,044 at its Aug. 17 meeting.
Lacey noted the Barnegat Branch Trail project team which consists of members of the Ocean County Planning Department, Engineering Department, Department of Parks and Recreation, Security Department and consultants have been closely working with Ocean Township in order to tackle the planning and design challenges of the fourth segment.
“The fourth section is different than the ones already constructed in that it is closer to Route 9 and existing commercial developments,” Lacey said. “It also addresses a complicated road network at Route 532 and the northern portion will end near a pedestrian crossing at Route 9 and Bay Parkway.”
Earlier segments of the trail run deeper through wooded areas of the county, away from major road networks.
Ocean County had been selected to receive $300,000 from the state Department of Transportation to construct Phase IV of the Barnegat Branch Trail. In addition, a $350,000 grant from the DOT will be used for the fifth section of the trail, which consists of about 2.4 miles from Oyster Creek to Lacey Road in Lacey Township. That work is currently in design stages and could begin in the fall of 2012.
Lacey has emphasized the trail is being constructed in phases and may not always be contiguous until it has been completed.
The Barnegat Branch trail, which, when completed will be a 15.6 mile linear park, 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. “As we get ready to build the fourth section, we can now see how this linear park is coming together and will be accessible to many county residents and visitors. Many people are already using the completed parts of the trail and really enjoying all it has to offer.”
Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said the trail offers a perfect opportunity for residents and visitors who want to see natural parts of the county they may not have been able to access in the past.
“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 and contributes greatly to the county’s tourism activities,” said Vicari, who serves as liaison to tourism. “It offers the perfect mix of activities for county residents and visitors.”