When was the last time you were hiking down the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and had to detour around a construction project? That scenario will be the case for the rest of February in one section of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
The construction involves the Susequehanna to Roseland Transmission Line project that was opposed by conservationists and national park advocates for being too big and damaging to cross the A.T. and the Water Gap.
Water Gap Superintendent John J. Donahue says that due to construction, the recreational use of some park facilities will be restricted February 8-28. During this period, workers will install transmission lines on the newly erected towers.
“These temporary restrictions are intended to protect the public, employees and construction workers from safety hazards associated with large scale construction activities,” said Superintendent Donahue in a release. “Safety is a top priority for the NPS, the utility companies, and contractors working on this project in the park. We are all working together to ensure that disruptions to the public are minimized to the greatest extent possible.”
Two utility companies --PSE&G in New Jersey and PPL in Pennsylvania-- are upgrading an existing transmission line and associated structures within their Right of Way (ROW) in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The portion of the ROW that passes through the park is approximately five miles long and 150 feet wide and runs west to east from Bushkill, Pennsylvania, across the Middle Delaware Scenic and Recreational River to Hardwick Township, New Jersey, where it crosses the Pioneer and Hamilton Ridge Trails, Old Mine Road, Route 602 (Millbrook-Blairstown Road) and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail before cresting Kittatinny Ridge.
The utility companies have removed the old transmission lines and associated structures along the ROW. New towers have been erected and new transmission lines are scheduled to be installed February 8-28. During this time, some park sites and facilities near the construction area will be closed, or access may be limited, to eliminate or reduce hazards associated with moving overhead wires and the use of heavy construction equipment, including cranes, large trucks and helicopters.
The size and scope of this project and the commensurate risks to the public, employees, and contractors during this phase of construction make it necessary to institute these precautionary measures, the park release said.
The following facilities will be closed February 8-28:
* The Delaware River corridor between Smithfield Beach and Bushkill Access will be closed.
* Watergate Recreation Site on Old Mine Road in New Jersey will be closed.
The following facilities near the construction area will remain open with some restrictions:
* The Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Pioneer and Hamilton Ridge trails in New Jersey and the McDade Recreational Trail in Pennsylvania will remain open during this period, however hikers may experience delays of up to an hour during certain critical construction activities. Safety monitors will be in place on those trails to assist hikers. Every effort will be made to ensure that delays are as short as possible. Hikers other than through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail are encouraged to use other park trails during this period.
* Smithfield Beach Access and Bushkill Access in PA will remain open. Boaters may use the river north of Bushkill and south of Smithfield Beach.
* Poxono Boat Launch on Old Mine Road in New Jersey will remain open, but boats will not be permitted to launch in either direction.
* Old Mine Road and Route 602/ Millbrook-Blairstown Road in New Jersey will remain open however motorists may experience minimal delays during certain construction activities. No delays are anticipated on Pennsylvania roads.
Signs will be posted at these locations to notify the public of any closures or restrictions.