Shippensburg University’s Council of Trustees received an update at its March 30 meeting regarding the completion of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail in Shippensburg.
Tim Ebersole, executive director of SU’s Office of Alumni Affairs and Government Relations; Jim Smedley, a representative from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Municipal Services; and Garrett Stahlman, vice president of the Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council (CVRTC), spoke to trustees, explaining the final step in completing Shippensburg’s end of the trail into the downtown area.
PennDOT and CVRTC have received $800,000 in federal funding to complete the project by June 2013, Ebersole said.
With no cost to the university, PennDOT will complete the last mile of the trail into Shippensburg, ending on North Earl Street.
To accomplish this, PennDOT will also be building a bridge across Fogelsonger Road, where a former railroad bridge once stood, to connect to the parking access to the trail and protect the safety of the trail’s users.
Smedley said the bridge will be built with an innovative construction process called GRS that is fairly new to Pennsylvania.
According to the Federal Highway administration, GRS stands for geosynthetic reinforced soil, a bridge construction that decreases the cost and construction time, but creates a flexible design that is easy to maintain.
The only shortcoming of a GRS-based bridge is flooding, but Smedley said that this is not a problem in the area where the bridge will be built.
Student trustee Neely Spence, a senior at SU, said, “The bridge is something that will be very beneficial.”
Stahlman reviewed CVRTC’s plans about adding another 10 miles to the trail, connecting Shippensburg to Carlisle. Currently, the trail begins a mile outside Shippensburg and ends in Newville.
Spence has run on the trail from Shippensburg to Newville and then from Newville to Carlisle on Route 11.
“The first part of the leg (of the journey) was much nicer,” she said. “That would really be exciting to make this connection.”
Stahlman said, “The longer the trail, the more outside people come in.”
The result will be more tourists visiting Shippensburg and Carlisle, boosting the local economies of both communities.
In other business, the trustees:
- Approved a resolution to demolish McCune, Lackhove and Kieffer halls and Seavers Apartments to make way for new student housing
- Approved replacing the coal-powered steam plant next year with a distributed gas heating system and a centralized chilled-water air conditioning system to save $20 million in heating and cooling costs over 30 years
- Approved contract bids for campus improvements and services for 2011-2012
- Approved the naming of Room 213 in Huber Art Center as the Brindle Gallery in memory of Ernest and Mary Brindle, who contributed $250,000 to SU art students.