READING, Pa. – Schuylkill River Greenways held a virtual event Thursday night to kick off an effort to revitalize a section of the Thun Trail as a way of making it safer for those who use it.
About 60 community members attended the event via Zoom.
The half-mile portion of the Reading gateway, also known as the Craig Link Section, extends from the Old Wyomissing Road intersection to the Reading Area Community College trail bridge. It crosses through Reading, West Reading and Cumru Township.
Elaine Schaefer, executive director of Schuylkill River Greenways, reminded participants that the organization is a nonprofit that owns, maintains and builds the Schuylkill River Trail, including the Thun Trail section in Berks County.
"The response has been amazing, and it recognizes how important this is to the community it serves," Schaefer said of the efforts to improve the Thun section of the trail.
Since announcing the initiative about a week ago, following the attempted robbery and shooting of a bicyclist in December, Schaefer said 36 people have made donations and 50 people have volunteered for a cleanup event on March 27.
"This is a fundraising effort, because projects like this are not in our budget," she said.
The estimated cost of the project is $73,000.
Julia Hurle, trail director, outlined the planned improvements for the section of the trail.
"We are looking at a safety and maintenance strategy to improve this site and make is as comfortable and safe as we can," Hurle said. "We are partnering with the local municipalities and working together with the community to make this happen. This is seen as a tremendous community asset."
- The installation of security cameras, which will be available to the local police departments.
- Replacement of existing lights, as needed.
- Removal of graffiti and the installation of new wayfinding and emergency signage.
- An ongoing effort to remove trash.
- Repair of the trail surface and re-establishing the original trail width of 8- to 10-feet.
- Beautification of the Craig Link Bridge across the Wyomissing Creek by painting it with a bold color or sanding it down to the original steel.
- Repair or replacement of existing fencing and removal of vegetation from fences.
- Clearing of overgrown vegetation to the ground and removal of trees which impede sight lines.
The two costliest pieces of the project are the surveillance cameras at $38,576 and the resurfacing of the trail at $14,300.
West Reading Mayor Andrew Kearney said he is excited about the project.
"Personally, my commitment to this initiative is grounded in recruiting volunteers and finding financial donations," Kearney said. "It's very exciting when great people come together to help one another and make a change for the better."
Bob McClennan, representing the Berks Area Mountain Bike Association, said over the past five years, there have been 25,000 trips by cyclists over the two bridges on the trail.
"That demonstrates how important this project is," McClennan said. "We are actively promoting cycling as a destination [activity] for Berks County. I encourage people to get behind this financially and support the effort to keep this important trail viable."
Schaefer said anyone interested in making donations or in volunteering can get more information on the Schuylkill River Greenways website.