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County Makes Clerical Error Listing Rail Trail Construction Ordinance

The Ocean County Board of Freeholders is fixing a clerical error after an incorrect part of the Barnegat Branch Trail was listed for funding, and caused some controversy.

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The $600,000 spending ordinance will be up for a vote on Wednesday July 18, however there was confusion over what exactly the money would be funding.

The ordinance, which would use money from the Capitol Improvement Fund, listed phase V-A instead of just phase V.

Phase V would extend the 15.6 mile bicycle and recreational trail and additional 2.4 miles from the Bay Parkway in Waretown to Lacey Road.

Phase V-A however is a much more controversial segment of the rail trail ,which goes 1.8 miles from Lacey Road to Hebrew Park, is currently in talks with Lacey officials to have a municipal road running through it and a pedestrian and bike path to be build along side of it.

While Lacey officials have cited the traffic relief a new municipal road will provide, opponents have opposed removing additional woodlands and introducing vehicular traffic into the trail.

Ocean County Freeholder John Bartlett says the County won’t be getting involved in Lacey’s decision on whether or not to build a road along the railroad track (which they own).

“We are not engaged in that part of the project because Lacey Township has not completed all the things that are necessary for the permits it would need to build the road.”

The money will come from the Counties Capitol Improvement Fund, which Bartlett notes is “money they already have”. Freeholder James Lacey is in charge of the Rail Trail and has decided to do the project as funding is available. Something Bartlett agrees wholeheartedly with.

“We’re doing it piecemeal but we’ve been keeping the price down.” Says Bartlett

He notes that if and when Lacey township reaches a decision the County will work with that decision, however they will not intervene otherwise. That means if the township is still in the process and more funding is available the next phase after V-A will be started and Lacey’s portion will be skipped over in the meantime.

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