Two Cape May County towns are working together to join their bike paths and create a two-wheeled route that spans nearly half the county.
Filling in a two-mile “missing link” between a path that already exists in Lower Township and one under construction in Middle Township would create a route from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal in North Cape May to the Cape May County Park & Zoo in Cape May Court House.
“There are a lot of bikers out there. People want to see it done,” said Lower Township Manager Mike Voll.
Middle Township Manager Dan Lockwood said the path would be about 13 miles long, but that doesn’t include some offshoots to the Clarence Davies Sports Complex in Goshen, Ockie Wisting Recreation Complex off Fulling Mill Road, and possibly Cape May County Park South in Del Haven.
Lockwood hopes to connect all the township’s recreational areas with bike paths. With the hundreds of acres at those complexes, and the zoo property, bikers would have considerably more miles to enjoy without competing with motor vehicles for pavement, he said.
“It’s a good bit of riding,” Lockwood said. “Anytime we can get off the roads with dedicated bike lanes it’s better for us.”
Voll has offered the services of Lower Township Engineer George Curvan to design the path and the township’s Public Works Department to pave the trail, a 10-foot-wide swath of asphalt. Officials are still discussing the details, making sure this would be cheaper than contracting with an outside company while seeking grant funds.
“We’d have to make sure we’re saving money,” said Lockwood.
The Cape May-Lewes Ferry recently refurbished Ferry Road and installed bike lanes on the side of the highway. Bike lanes, unlike bike paths, are on a roadway with motor vehicles. Voll said the ferry may be willing to create paths. In any event, the lanes already link to the $700,000 Cold Spring Bike Path that Cape May County opened in 2002. It goes north along Seashore Road, ending near an old railroad intersection called Sally Marshall Crossing.
Middle Township, meanwhile, has been building a bike path in phases. The first three phases took it from the zoo to Indian Trail Road. The latest phase is taking it south to the Whitesboro section. The goal is to get to Satt Boulevard in Rio Grande.
“We still need funding for Whitesboro to Satt Boulevard,” Lockwood said.
This leaves about two miles from Satt Boulevard to Sally Marshall Crossing to connect the two paths, about one mile in each municipality. The major hurdle is crossing Route 47.
Middle used an Atlantic City Electric Co. right-of-way to get from the zoo to Indian Trail Road and the path crosses several busy roads, Lockwood noted.
“We can do it with enhanced traffic striping to make sure people are aware,” Lockwood said.
There may also be some wetlands issues, but Lockwood noted “New Jersey likes bike paths,” so he thinks any permits would be easy to acquire. He said the Rotary Club has talked about creating a small park with a gazebo where the paths from the two towns meet.
Lower Township Grants Coordinator Colleen Crippen said agencies that offer grants for bike paths would look favorably on two towns applying together.
“It would look great to have a joint application. It would look great to have two communities working together,” Crippen said.
The Cold Spring Bike Path also used an Atlantic City Electric Co. right-of-way and an old rail bed. Voll said discussions are underway with the utility for future expansion of the path.
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