Devault Trail Activation Plan

Updated: Sep 2

In Charlestown and Schuylkill Townships and the Borough of Phoenixville Chester County, Pennsylvania



Devault Trail Activation Plan


Charlestown Township is excited to announce that in May, 2020, they were awarded a TCDI grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. TMACC assisted Charlestown with the preparation of the grant application, and will also be performing the bulk of the planning work on the project. The grant, which will be used by Charlestown Township to conduct a “Devault Trail Activation Study” will help forge a trail connection between Phoenixville Borough and the Great Valley/Devault area in Malvern.


Background

Of all the unbuilt trail connections in Chester County, the Devault Trail is perhaps the most important, and one that could have a significant impact on connectivity, livability, and increasing future transportation options in the region. The proposed Devault Trail (for which a feasibility study was already prepared in 2015) would utilize a six-mile, dormant freight-rail line to create a pedestrian/bicycle connection between the Borough of Phoenixville to the north, and the office parks and corporate employment centers of Great Valley, located to the southwest.


More importantly, the Devault Trail represents an opportunity to construct an alternate commuter corridor between one of the fastest-densifying communities in the Philadelphia suburbs (the population of Phoenixville is 17,000 and growing quickly) and one of the largest concentrations of employers in the entire Delaware Valley (the daytime population of Great Valley, within a six-mile radius, is 60,000 people). Further, Phoenixville Pike, the road that runs parallel to the proposed Devault Trail, carries over 10,000 vehicles each day.


Thus, the Devault Trail corridor has the potential to remove single-occupancy vehicles from the road, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and greatly improve air quality. Further, the Devault Trail would connect to an existing regional trail in Montgomery County to the north (the Schuylkill River Trail) and several proposed or existing Chester County trails on the south end (the Chester Valley Trail, the Warner Spur Trail, and the Patriots’ Path).


The problem, however, is that despite the work already done to study the trail corridor, the potential ownership and management of the land has not yet been determined. If and when Norfolk Southern Railroad ever relinquishes control of the line, who would they give/sell the land to, and who would manage the future trail? These are the essential questions that the Devault Trail Activation Plan seeks to answer.

Project Goals

1. To create a framework for ownership, liability, and maintenance of the proposed trail, thus “teeing-up” the Devault Trail for the next phase: implementation.

2. To create a model for other trails in the Delaware Valley to use in establishing future alternate commuter routes and recreational facilities.

3. To raise residential, municipal, and corporate engagement in, and awareness of, the Devault Trail feasibility, as well as create an effective outreach/marketing strategy.

4. To activate a number of recently-completed Chester County/DVRPC projects, including: the Devault Trail Feasibility Study; the Phoenixville Region Multimodal Transportation Study; the Great Valley/Route 29 Multimodal Study; and the Warner Spur Multi-use Trail Master Plan.

5. To implement the principles of the DVRPC Connections 2045 plan, particularly “Developing Livable Communities” by encouraging regional cooperation and multi-municipal planning, along with investing in community parks/open space.

6. Meet the goal of the PennDOT Connects program of encouraging multi-municipal cooperation and planning between the Borough of Phoenixville, Schuylkill Township, Charlestown Township, East Whiteland Township, and Chester County.


Public Outreach

Shaped like a dumbbell, the six mile corridor of the proposed Devault Trail spans a variety of environments, conditions, and neighborhoods, with rural and suburban surroundings in the middle and the dense population centers of Phoenixville Borough and Great Valley on the north and south ends, respectively. Because of the number and density of neighborhoods, communities, businesses, interested parties, and stakeholders along the corridor, a comprehensive and thought-out public outreach and engagement process is essential to the success of the project.


The Devault Trail Activation Project team and its partners have a wealth of knowledge about the geographic and political landscape of the area, and will engage all members of the community through:

1) Formation of a project Steering Committee (four meetings to be held through the course of the project);

2) Targeted/focused interviews with community groups/stakeholders at the beginning of the project;

3) Two proposed traditional public meetings, along with exploring the option of creating a video about the project, which could be aired on public access TV and linked to TMACC and municipal websites for public comment.

4) The use of social media and the internet for outreach/engagement throughout the course of the project, including TMACC/Charlestown Twp./project partner websites, along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Community/Stakeholder groups that will be engaged in the Devault Trail planning process include the following:

· Charlestown Township

· Schuylkill Township

· East Whiteland Township

· Tredyffrin Township

· Phoenixville Borough

· Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee

· Chester County Planning Commission

· Chester County Department of Parks & Recreation

· Phoenixville School District

· Technical College High School – Pickering Campus

· Circuit Trails Philadelphia

· Bike Chester County

· Schuylkill River Trail

· Friends of Chester Valley Trail

· Great Valley Business Association (tenants/landowners in corporate park)

· Norfolk Southern Railroad

· Neighbors/neighborhood associations adjacent to trail


Further, representatives of the following groups will be asked to serve on the project Steering Committee:

· Charlestown Township

· Schuylkill Township

· Phoenixville Borough

· Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee

· Chester County Planning Commission

· TMACC



View the Devault Trail Project Background below:

Background on the Devault Trail
.pdf
Download PDF • 109KB

View the full feasibility study below:

2015_devault_trail_study_final
.pdf
Download PDF • 37.92MB


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