TOMS RIVER — Ocean County has been awarded a $350,000 state grant to continue construction of the 15.6-mile long Barnegat Branch Trail between Barnegat and Toms River.
The money from the state Department of Transportation will be used to help build a 2.4-mile fifth section of the trail, from the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant to Lacey Road in Lacey, according to the county Division of Public Information.
Design work is to set to begin later this year with construction in 2012. Improvements to two abandoned rail trestles over the plant’s cooling canal are included in the plans.
“Construction of the fifth section of the trail will mark over eight miles of contiguous trail and ensures the trail’s continuation north to Toms River in the near future,” said Freeholder James F. Lacey in a prepared statement from the division.
The fourth section of the trail, which extends north from Wells Mills Road in Waretown for 1 1/2 miles to the Oyster Creek is scheduled to be finished this summer. The third section, built in Berkeley out of contiguous order with the first two sections, was completed last fall.
“This (third) section travels through a beautiful area of Ocean County with Cedar Creek being a centerpiece,” Lacey said. “This park is unique to Ocean County and features areas that residents and visitors may not have been able to experience since they are deep in our natural woods. Each time we add to it, the park grows in popularity.”
The amount of state grants awarded for the linear park now amounts to $963,000, according to the county.
The trail is being built over the abandoned Barnegat Branch Division of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, which provided various types of passenger and freight service between Lakehurst and Barnegat from 1879 to 1972.