BOYERTOWN >> Two studies now underway may allow a trail system from Montgomery and Chester counties to find its way into Berks County and meet in the middle.
For more than a year, the Tri-County Trail Feasibility Study has been underway under the auspices of Michael Lane, regional recreation director for six municipalities — Pottstown, Upper, West and Lower Pottsgrove, Douglass (Mont.) and North Coventry.
The plans include four or five primary trail systems (depending on how you count them), each of which will be completed in segments as funding becomes available, and said it may be 10 or 20 years before the trails outlined in the study are actually built.
The cumulative cost of the trails could ultimately run between $9 million and $13 million.
Now, a $70,000 matching grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to Boyertown Borough and Building a Better Boyertown will allow planners to see if a connection can be made between that system and Boyertown.
Boyertown Borough Council agreed to act as the grant application about two years ago.
The grant will allow a closer look to see if approximately six miles of the Secret Valley Trail in Boyertown Borough, and Douglass Township (Berks) and Upper Pottsgrove Township can connect.
The trail was first proposed by the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust and would run along the railroad corridor and connect with the Manatawny Trail, which has been proposed to run up along the bank of Manatawny Creek from Pottstown’s Memorial Park to Ralph Murgia Park in West Pottsgrove, and beyond.
It proven feasible, the Secret Valley Trail could link Boyertown and nearby communities to Pottstown and the Schuylkill River Trail, creating one of the largest trails in the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and one available to one of the largest populations.
Speaking Wednesday to the Pottstown Metropolitan Area Regional Planning Committee, Lane said the more connections a trail has and the longer it is, the more tourists and visitors it attracts.
To date, the region’s longest trail is the Schuylkill river Trail which is ultimately planned to run the entire length of the Schuylkill River, from Philadelphia to Pottsville.
The start of a $1 million bridge in the Monocacy Station section of Union Township that will carry the Schuylkill River Tail over Route 724 near Main Street is the subject of a March 3 ribbon-cutting ceremony.
And the new Route 422 bridge over the Schuylkill River will connect the Pottstown section of the Schuylkill River Trail with North Coventry, where there are plans to extend up into Kenilworth Park and east to Parker Ford, where a section of the trail with connections down to Philadelphia currently terminates.
Trails that connect with the Schuylkill River Trail see greater popularity and have more potential for economic impact.
Lane told the planners that the Borough of Schwenksville is banking heavily on the Perkiomen Trail — which follows Perkiomen Creek from the Schuylkill River Trail in Valley Forge to Green Lane Park.
Not only has the borough begun to market itself as a trail town, but businesses like restaurants and bicycle service shops, are being established to take advantage of traffic on the trail.
The Borough of Boyertown has hired Campbell Thomas & Company in collaboration with Gilmore & Associates Inc. to prepare this study.
The first kick-off meeting with the steering committee was held Feb. 2nd in the Building A Better Boyertown office.
There will be public meetings conducted in the next six months beginning in April for community input in preparation for the study.