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York City Council OKs $1M Rail Trail project

Sean Philip Cotter

The York City Council on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to a project that will overhaul part of the Rail Trail in the city, costing almost $1 million, but without local taxpayer money.

The project will be entirely paid for by grants and private donations.

At Tuesday's council meeting, engineer Jeff Shue of C.S. Davidson spoke to the council and the few members of the public in attendance about the project, which affects the area of the trail bounded by Lafayette Street to the northeast and Richland Avenue to the southwest.

The contract was bid out in the fall, and Shiloh Paving and Excavating came in with the lowest bid, at just over $1.55 million; that number was later cut down to $915,000, Shue said.

The project will improve the lighting and will resurface all of that part of the trail, he said.

Shue said York College was a big proponent of the project; the college sees this as a good way to make a "safe and well-lit ... conduit from the college to the city."

Right now, the trail is closed from dusk until dawn. That will change once this project finishes and management of the Rail Trail park switches from the city to York County Parks. Shue said he doesn't know what the hours will be, but it'll be open later.

The project had originally been intended to be more ambitious; The original plans included a parking lot near where Lafayette Place meets Loucks Mill Road and completely replacing the trail's paving in a few places where  now it will be resurfaced, Shue said. That's how they cut the price tag down below $1 million.

Tim Miller of Downtown Inc said his organization, which has been involved with the project, has to raise a final $75,000 to fully cover the cost; he said the group expects to do that over the next month.

Shue expects the work to get underway in March and take a few months. After that, a different project will be contracted out on the rest of the city portion of the trail, which continues north from Lafayette Street up to West Philadelphia Street, he said.

The trail — in total known as the York County Heritage Rail Trail Park — also extends south from the city, winding its way for a total of 21 miles down to the Mason-Dixon Line, where it meets up with the Torrey C. Brown Trail in Maryland, which continues another 20 miles south. There's also a northern extension from Route 30 to John Rudy Park in Manchester Township; a link between that and the trail ending in the city is planned.

The Heritage Rail Trail draws city workers for a lunchtime walk.
file photo

— Reach Sean Cotter