Barnegat officials back rail-trail

Published in the Asbury Park Press 12/24/02

BARNEGAT -- The Township Committee is formally asking Lacey officials to set aside space in the Lacey master plan for a bicycle and walking trail along an old railroad bed.

The request was authorized in a resolution approved last night.

The Ocean County Board of Freeholders is planning a 14-mile trail from South Toms River through Berkeley, Lacey, Waretown (Ocean Township) and Barnegat, to be called the Barnegat Branch Bicycle-Pedestrian Trail.

Plans call for that trail to be connected to the former Tuckerton Railroad right-of-way and to part of a Pennsylvania Railroad right-of-way, creating a 41-mile triangular trail stretching deep into the Pine Barrens.

The nonprofit Lacey Rail-Trail Committee asked Barnegat to support its aim of keeping Lacey's portion of the road exclusively for recreation; Lacey officials want to build a road on the former rail bed to alleviate congestion along Route 9.

"We're trying to preserve the whole continuity of the rail trail," said Donna A. Bahrle, Lacey Rail-Trail Committee chairwoman. "I know that's what the county wants."

Barnegat's Dolores J. Coulter, presiding at her last meeting as mayor before Republicans take control of the committee next month, agreed.  "It would be nice to have a continual trail," she said. "You have trails like this across the state. It's good exercise, and it gets families out."

Lacey Committeeman John C. Parker, reached by telephone, called the matter a nonissue, saying that Lacey officials had promised the county a year ago that it could have a 12-foot-wide portion of the rail bed along the length of the right-of-way for the trail.

Gregory J. Volpe: (609) 978-4584 or [email protected]

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