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Butler-Freeport trail gets $750K

A jogger enjoys the sunshine and solitude of the Butler-Freeport Community Trail. Buffalo Township has received $750,000 in funding from the state Department of Transportation that will be used to to reinforce banks along the trail in problem areas. Butler Eagle File Photo
Funds will be used to reinforce Bear Creek’s banks

Chris Ziegler’s worries about storms washing away parts of the Butler-Freeport Community Trail have been assuaged, as a large grant recently received by Buffalo Township will repair the vulnerable banks on Bear Creek.

Ziegler, the longtime trail manager, was thrilled to announce Monday that Buffalo Township has received $750,000 in funding from the state Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program.

The entire amount will be used to reinforce banks along the trail in problem areas, where the swollen creek can rise to the trail surface and damage it or wash it away completely.

Ziegler said an emergency repair a few years ago to replace the trail after a heavy rainstorm cost $80,000.

The new PennDOT funds will be used to place huge stones and perform other work to prevent a repeat of that event along the trail.

“We are going to be proactive in stabilizing the stream instead of being reactive to every storm,” Ziegler said. “Half of the trail is along the creek, so we are going to find the hot spots where there is a bend in the creek and the water picks up steam in a rain event and hits the bank.”

Most of the work will occur north and south of the Bear Creek Road trailhead, Ziegler said.

She hopes to have crews working on the project by late winter or early spring, when the trail is lightly used.

“The trail is going to have to be shut down there to do the work,” Ziegler said.

She said Ken Howard of Bankson Engineering in Cheswick, who is the township engineer, applied for the loan.

Ziegler said the township, which is technically the owner of the 20-mile trail, has always been dedicated to the trail and its growth.

“We couldn’t ask for better partners,” Ziegler said of the township officials. “I think we work really well together.”

Michael Oehling Jr., a Buffalo Township supervisor, said it is critical to support the trail in any way possible.

“The trail is a major staple of Butler County,” he said. “As we see the trail get more and more popular, we noticed the businesses along the trail are doing better.”

He touted the new Audubon Nature Center built along the trail as well as the many educational programs, fundraisers and races that take place there, in addition to families biking and hiking.

“We are trying to make this almost like a haven of recreation,” Oehling said. “We see how dedicated the people are who volunteer to help and maintain the trail and the love and care that so many put into this trail, that we want to keep providing this amazing service for everyone.”

Oehling said Ziegler also worked on applying for the PennDOT funding.

“Chris is so dedicated to helping this trail and growing it,” Oehling said. “The knowledge and expertise that she has, I don’t even have words to describe.”

Oehling is thrilled that the PennDOT funds were made available for the trail.

“We’re just very excited and pleased,” he said.

Bike riders also enjoy the Butler-Freeport Community Trail. Buffalo Township has received $750,000 in funding from the state Department of Transportation that will be used to to reinforce banks along the trail in problem areas. Butler Eagle File Photo