Iroquois Trail officially opens
BY KEVIN WOODRUFF
It’s been a long road for planning the Iroquois Trail, but after the concept was born more than 12 years ago, construction of the first phase is complete and the trail is open to the public.
Eric Brown, who is the executive director of the Wyoming Industrial Development Authority and was responsible for coordinating the project, said on Thursday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Wyoming County Emergency Operations Center in Tunkhannock Township that he was ecstatic the first phase was complete.
The project was originally conceived by Wyoming County planner Paul Weilage in 2000, but was shelved for many years.
It was then resurrected in 2010 at a WIDA meeting when the group was looking for a project in which to spend some of its funds it had earned throughout the years being a conduit for local industry by obtaining loans for development and expansion.
Once research and planning were completed, the project was bid out with the successful bid being $366,487.00. DCNR supplied approximately $115,000.00 through a grant applied for through the Wyoming Industrial Development Authority (WIDA) and “Growing Greener II” Funds. WIDA then provided $25,000 toward the project and is responsible for the care and maintenance of the Trail upon completion. The balance of the total amount (approximately $226,487.00) was then provided by PennDot Transportation Enhancement Funds.
Through the process, Brown said dozens of people and organizations were involved in helping make it happen.
Brown pointed out that Phil Smiley, Cathy Wagner and Tina Hodge of TREHAB sent a group of workers for two weeks to clear brush and downed trees away by hand from the trail boundaries to make room for Phil Taylor Surveying to establish the beginning boundaries of the phase one project.
Even though this first phase of the project, a 1.65-mile stretch beginning at the little league complex on Sunnyside Road and ending at the old Montrose Railroad line, is complete Brown said the project is far from concluding.
The next plan is to connect the trail to Roslund School by obtaining easements from landowners, and next to carve the trail north to Lake Carey.
That part of the project is currently in the planning phase, with no timeline set.
“We’d like to be able to take the trail all the way to Lake Carey,” Brown said.
For right now, Brown is basking in the accomplishment of phase one.
“It’s great for the community,” Brown said. “We are already getting tons of comments from people in and out of the area, and that’s what we like to see.”
Randy White, a Tunkhannock Township supervisor and member of the committee responsible for maintaining the Iroquois Trail, said it is a great asset to the community.
White, who is also Tunkhannock Area’s cross country coach, said that his team has been using the trail to practice, but has also seen it heavily used by members of the community.
“It’s the only trail of its kind in the area,” White said. “It’s a big asset for the community.”
White, who was involved in the planning process, said it went quickly, and is happy to see the trail come to fruition.
Iroquois Trail engineer David Osborne, of Ceco Associates in Scranton, said on Thursday that he was happy to see the trail completed.
Parts of the trail that Osborne said he was proud of were installing benches, bike racks and parking areas for patrons of the trail.
He said the only challenging aspects of the trail were some of the traffic control devices.
With the trail crossing the road in several places, he felt it was important to make sure the crossings were clearly marked.
On the trail, which in one section is carved into the side of a hill, Osborne said there were a few drainage concerns, but nothing to detour from the quality of the project.
The company responsible for construction of the Iroquois Trail was Kriger Construction in Dickson City, who Brown noted on Thursday did a wonderful job.