If you're a bicyclist, the Schuylkill River Trail could soon be the path of least resistance from Philadelphia to Reading, a network of paved and stone pathways, roadways and sidewalks far from snarled highway traffic.
Currently the trail ends before you reach Berks County, stopping at Parker Ford in East Coventry Township, Chester County, and picking up again in Pottstown before heading north to Reading.
A roughly 5-mile section spanning Chester and Montgomery counties is unfinished, forcing cyclists and hikers to maneuver from one truncated end to the other, or turn around and go back.
But the two counties are embarking on plans to complete the missing piece of the trail by 2020, creating an unfettered path from Philadelphia to Reading, a project that could pay economic dividends to Berks, authorities say.
On Wednesday, Chester County officials presented a plan to build a 4-mile paved section of trail from Parker Ford to a new PennDOT bridge on Route 422 that will carry the trail over the Schuylkill River at the Chester-Mongtomery border.
In Montgomery, construction of a missing half-mile section of the trail from the Route 422 bridge to Industrial Highway in Pottstown could be completed by early 2020. The county hopes to acquire two pieces of land in 2019 to start the project, said Jody Holton, director of the Montgomery County Planning Commission.
Another mile-long section from the Pottstown Riverfront Trailhead to Industrial Highway should be finished by the end of the year, Holton said. Norfolk Southern is completing a piece of that section that crosses its tracks.
A completed trail could buoy Berks' economy by bringing tourists and avid young cyclists looking for attractive places to live, authorities said.
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