I read the June 7 “Our View” piece in The Press of Atlantic City with great interest, especially given my involvement in Cape Issues, a group that is working tirelessly to see an increase in bike trails throughout southern New Jersey, with an emphasis on Cape May County.
Including the bike pedestrian path in the design/construction of the Beesley’s Point Parkway Bridge was a very important part of the process to connect the Atlantic and Cape May counties bike trail networks. The ultimate goal is to have a contiguous trail network from High Point to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal. I wish to comment on another “missing link” in this contiguous trail goal that is closer to home for Cape May County residents.
South of the Beesley’s Point Parkway Bridge, obstacles remain. Middle Township is on schedule to start construction on their bike path north project, which would connect the network from the County Park to the border of Dennis Township, and its phase 1 path that extends to South Seaville. Phase 2 of the Dennis Township bikeway connecting with the Woodbine bikeway is in the planning phase. The missing link is a bike path connecting the Beesley’s Point trailhead (now under construction) to the Woodbine bike trail. Woodbine would become the hub of the regional system.
In order to address the missing link, it must be determined how to cross the Great Cedar Swamp/Cedar Swamp Creek. In a meeting with the Upper Township engineer, the only cost-effective solution is to cross the swamp utilizing the railroad bridge over the creek at Route 50. This incorporates a “Rails to Trails” concept being utilized nationwide, in which abandoned rail beds are being converted to bike and pedestrian paths. The answer lies with NJ Transit, Atlantic City Electric and Conrail who control the railroad leases and right of ways, respectively.
The good news is that the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization has listed Upper Township connectivity as one of their special studies in FY22. Without movement in this area, the “missing link” to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal remains an elusive goal. We’ll try to be patient.
Cape Issues was established in 2008 as a non-partisan volunteer group to advocate for the betterment of life in Cape May County. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.