Buffalo Valley Rail Trail Politics

I’ve been trying to keep up with the status of the proposed Buffalo Valley Rail Trail. There’s been some pretty hilarious shenanigans underway, so I thought I’d summarize what’s been going on best as I can piece it together from various sources.

A few months ago, the Lewisburg Area Recreation Authority acquired about 11 miles of abandoned railroad tracks between Mifflinburg and Lewisburg.

OpenCycleMap of Buffalo Valley Rail Trail

Over the summer, the railroad tracks and ties were removed, and it looked like some of the trail would be open by spring 2010. A “friends of the trail” group was organized. I went to the first meeting of this group and signed up for the mailing list. We were supposed to register as a 503(c) non-profit, and get to work picking up trash, posting signs, etc.

I never heard from the group after that meeting, and I’m not sure if it still exists.

At some point, the trail was named the “Buffalo Valley Rail Trail,” and there was some sort of a kick-off meeting in late October.

Then things got weird.

Most of the rail trail actually lies outside of LARA’s jurisdiction, so LARA wanted to give the project to Union County. Pandemonium ensued.

Republican County Commissioner Preston Boop fired off an email to the Chairwoman of the Republican Committee, where he asked her for support from local Republicans to oppose the “Secret agenda and meetings of local elected Democrats,” and “wasteful spending of precious funds.”

Chairwoman Yvonne Morgan obliged, emailing her supporters, calling the trail a “Joke” and “Frivolity,” and even making a nasty personal attack on County Commissioner John Showers. This email exchange was promptly leaked to the press, and I have a copy of it here: (click for big)

The email exchange

If you’re so inclined, you can even watch a video of County Commissioner John Showers reading this ridiculous email into the public record. Keep an eye out for Yvonne Morgan sporting a pig hat.

Yvonne Morgan in a pig hat

In any event, LARA has a $3.7 million transportation grant from PennDOT for construction, but they can’t get that money until the design phase is done. They’ve applied for a $500,000 grant to do the design work, but they don’t know if they’ll get that money or not. In the meanwhile, it looks like they are going ahead with design work on credit.

I hope all this nonsense is sorted out before the end of the summer, because I’d really like to be able to ride my bike out to the Purple Cow for some ice cream.

CVRT Extension Meeting

I just saw this on the Harrisburg Bicycle Club’s website.

They want to extend the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail another 11 miles all the way from Newville to Carlisle, which would be really cool.

CVRT Map

Anyhow, there’s a meeting about it Tuesday, December 15 @ 6 pm at Business Central, 18 N. Hanover St. in Carlisle.

More info on the project here: http://users.dickinson.edu/~hoefler/CVRTX/

I’m going to try to make it.