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Butler-Freeport trail users ignoring closed signs

Mary Ann Thomas
| Monday, July 24, 2017, 6:36 p.m.
The final section of the Butler-Freeport Community Trail is being resurfaced and will be closed until mid-August.
Courtesy of John Haven
The final section of the Butler-Freeport Community Trail is being resurfaced and will be closed until mid-August.

When a worker for a contractor removed a barrier at 5:30 a.m. Monday at the entrance to the Butler-Freeport Community Trail in Buffalo Township, a cyclist surprised him and whizzed into the trail's construction zone.

“That bike came flying by and scared the heck of him,” said John Haven, a supervisor with Buffalo Township. The 21.5-mile trail stretches from Freeport to Butler.

“There's no stopping them,” he said.

A three-mile section from Freeport to Buffalo Township is closed to all bike and foot traffic until July 28 for drainage work and resurfacing, weather permitting.

When that section is complete, crews will work on drainage at and resurface a several-mile section from Monroe Road to Sarver Road in Buffalo Township. That project should be completed by Aug. 17.

A grant from PennDOT's Transportation Alternative Program is paying for a $620,000 restoration for the 20-year-old trail.

The problem, Haven said, is that enthusiastic trail users continue to bike or walk on the closed sections.

Earlier this summer, Haven was with the contractor, JC Lee Construction of Meadville, when the company moved construction cones near one of the trail heads and in a one-hour period, 10 cars were parked in a lot that was supposed to be closed to the public.

“There are dedicated trail users here, but a little too dedicated,” said Haven. “They tell me they have to get their run in or their bike ride in.”

Work on the trail with the use of heavy machinery to roll and compress limestone can pose dangers to trail users, and they should go to another part of the trail that is open, Haven said.

Currently, trail users can enter the trail at Monroe Road in Buffalo Township and can head north for 16 miles to reach the City of Butler.

But when work starts on the Monroe Road section in a few weeks trail users can travel the 4.5-mile section from Freeport to Monroe Road or start at Sarver Road in Buffalo Township, where there are 12 miles of open trails to Butler.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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