Burlington County is starting to plan for a new regional trail project that will connect three County parks, while boosting pedestrian and bicycle safety on Route 130, one of New Jersey’s most dangerous roads.
The proposed Route 130 Crossing project will extend the new Rancocas Creek Greenway Trail approximately 2 miles from Pennington Park in Delanco across Route 130 to both Willingboro Lakes Park in Willingboro and Rainbow Meadow Park in Delran. The County’s early plans call for construction of fully accessible paths linking all three parks, a safe pedestrian/bicycle crossing across Route 130 between milepost 40 and 42 in Edgewater Park, plus improvements to the Route 130 Bridge across the Rancocas Creek to better accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
“Burlington County has more than 1,000 acres of parkland and 50 miles of trails and we are thrilled to begin developing plans for even more miles for our regional trails network,” said Burlington County Commissioner Felicia Hopson. “The Route 130 Crossing project will further extend our network and connect three County parks. More importantly, it will dramatically improve safety on Route 130 and improve mobility on both sides of the highway.”
Critical safe crossing
Route 130 has been named New Jersey’s most dangerous road for pedestrians multiple times by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign due to the number of pedestrian fatalities that have occurred on it during the last decade plus.
“The pedestrian danger on Route 130 has long been a challenge for communities up and down the corridor. It prevents residents from accessing and enjoying outdoor recreation, shopping and employment opportunities,” said Burlington County Commissioner Deputy Director Tom Pullion. “Constructing a safe pedestrian and bicyclist-friendly crossing at this location will absolutely save lives and help enhance our County parks and regional trails network.”
State Senator Troy Singleton, who has advocated for the New Jersey Department of Transportation to make safety improvements on the highway for over a decade, said the project exemplifies Burlington County’s commitment to accessibility and public safety.
“Rapid residential and commercial growth along Route 130 corridor has unfortunately created a safety concern for pedestrians and bicyclists, so it’s gratifying to see Burlington County advance this project to provide a critical safe crossing,” Senator Singleton said. “I look forward to working with the County, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and our federal partners to ensure this high-priority project can advance rapidly forward from concept to reality.”
Early projections for the trail and improvements will likely cost more than $19 million. County officials expect they will be funded with federal transportation grants.
Earlier this fall, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission approved adding $19 million for the project to the New Jersey Transportation Improvement Program, also known as TIP. The move is a critical step for the award of federal transportation aid to cover the engineering and design, right of way property acquisition, construction and inspection costs for the project.
Last week, the DVRPC also approved shifting $700,000 in federal Coronavirus Response and Relief aid to the project for concept development and planning.
Enhancing Burlington County parks and trails
Burlington County has already received and invested more than $19.3 million in grants towards its earlier trail projects, including the first 4-mile segment of the Rancocas Greenway Trail between Amico Island Park in Delran and Pennington Park. Eventually, the County hopes to extend the trail the entire 30-mile length of the Rancocas Creek from its confluence with Delaware River to its source in Pemberton.
Burlington County is also in design and planning stages for improvements to both Willingboro Lakes Park and Rainbow Meadow Park in Delran.
Willingboro Lakes is located off Route 130 and Beverly Rancocas Road in Willingboro and has 3 miles of interior trails, plus fishing piers, an accessible playground and a small group pavilion. Burlington County has received a $1.5 million Green Acres award to build additional parking and boardwalks within the 105-acre site. The County is also designing a new trail between the County Park and the municipality’s iconic Mill Creek Park on Beverly-Rancocas Road.
Rainbow Meadow Park (previously known as Laurel Run Park) is located off Creek Road and the Rancocas Creek in Delran. It currently specializes in passive outdoor recreation and has a one-mile trail through the property to the edge of the Rancocas Creek. The County is developing plans to build a new restroom facility on site, along with more accessible trails and family-friendly amenities.
Rainbow Meadow Park is also home to the Farmers Against Hunger operations and the organization is creating working crop fields and teaching gardens there.
Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel said extending the Rancocas Creek Greenway Trail across Route 130 would be another big enhancement for the parks system and the Greater Philadelphia region’s Circuit Trail network.
“Pennington Park, Willingboro Lakes and Rainbow Meadow are three of our County’s most attractive parks and we’re excited about the planned improvements and the opportunity to connect them with a regional trail,” Eckel said. “The Route 130 Crossing project will make all three County parks more accessible, along with the communities around them. Partnering with the DVRPC will help move the project forward and ensures that another Circuit Trail project will be federally funded.”