Upper Southampton Ribbon-Cutting Celebrates Further Unspooling of the Newtown Rail Trail

cyclist at sunset
Image via Roman-Pohorecki at Pexels.
The Newtown Rail Trail — atop a former SEPTA line — has gained another connector piece for the public to explore.

County officials and trail advocates gathered in Upper Southampton this week to snip the ribbon on yet another piece of the Newtown Rail Trail.

The event celebrated an additional 2.5 miles of paved-path access for area walkers, runners, and cyclists. The connector now enables a nonmotor-vehicle route to the southeast, safely navigating users into neighboring Montgomery County and beyond.

The project’s champions and supporters included Bucks and Montgomery County municipalities, the William Penn Foundation, and The Circuit Trails and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Phila.

Patrick Monahan is regional organizer with the latter.

“Right now, there’s a little over 360 completed miles in the nine-county region, covering Bucks down to Phila.,” he said.

“A lot of our advocacy efforts are focused on closing critical gaps along the way. And then connecting nearby communities to the trails.”

The effort has an ambitious vision. Monahan said the 2025 goal is 500 miles of connected trails in southeast Pa. and N.J.; that target is planned to extend to 800 miles by 2050.

Monahan sees the effort as not only advancing Bucks County’s health initiatives but also its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

“The Circuit Trails Coalition is motivated by the belief that trails are for the use of everyone,” he said.

It’s a target shared by the project’s backers, Monahan cites. “A lot of [that] work is supported by the William Penn Foundation and their idea is that everyone should have access to the waterways; everyone should have access to the green spaces.”

Monahan has skin in the trail game. As a Phila. resident, he often found himself pedaling on high-trafficked, high-speed roads. An unexpected car making a right-hand turn in front of him was among the steady threats.

Now, he glides across the miles on the wide bike paths of the trails for which he advocates.

“It’s so relaxing,” he said.

This video from 2020 provides an update from that timeframe; the project has advanced significantly since.

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