New trails will dramatically change the look and use of Easton’s College Hill


Getting between Easton’s College Hill and the city’s downtown means either taking College Avenue or taking the historic steps.

A new state grant to Lafayette College will help change that.

The money will fund a new trail plan to add trails from South College Drive to the steps and steps to Bushkill Drive where it will connect to the popular Karl Stirner Arts Trail along Bushkill Creek.

The college began exploring a potential trail system on the hill about five or six years ago to connect the college campus to the city center, said Maurice Luker III, executive director of the college of corporate relations, foundations and government.

The college has a series of projects called “smart connections” centered around the idea of ​​partnerships with the state and city of Easton to better connect College Hill and Lafayette with surrounding neighborhoods, Luker said.

Lafayette sees approximately 100,000 visitors between admission tours, athletics and events.

“We want the people who live here and visit here to be able to move freely from one place to another to benefit from our community,” he said.

The topography of College Hill is very attractive but challenging, and much of the area is designed for automobile culture, Luker said.

College Avenue, a national highway, has a lot of traffic, very few crossings, and only one sidewalk on the east side. PennDOT explored the possibility of stop signs on College Avenue, but was hesitant to add anything regulated, Luker said.

On the other side, last week, Luker saw a person jogging on Bushkill Street where they were at risk of being hit by a car. Jogging in the street is common here.

“It’s just an untenable situation,” he said.

The college originally planned for the Easton Skyway, a massive 170-foot outdoor elevator to an observation deck, with a covered walkway leading to the top of College Hill.

“We were excited about the accessibility,” said Luker, but the plan ultimately fell through.

State Representative Bob Freeman was instrumental in bringing these leads to fruition: the plan and new state funding were announced this month.

Freeman, who lives in College Hill, spoke about his morning walks around campus and how he would see overgrown access points on the escarpment. He took the Lafayette officials for a walk and talked about creating walking / cycling trails on the steep grade. University officials put on their hiking boots and Freeman led the way, Luker joked.

The trail plan increases pedestrian and cyclist access by offering a better grade for walking and cycling, offers stopping points and is ideal for connecting to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail.

Not to mention that the trails will offer “exceptional views” and a different perspective on the city and downtown, Freeman said.

“I think it will be a great improvement in the quality of life at Easton,” said Freeman.

This project will receive a state subsidy of $ 869,694 and Lafayette has committed up to $ 372,726 for a required twinning.

The college trail plan will eventually connect all of the trails in a network, Luker said, with Lafayette adding segment by segment to it.

A separate part of the plan will deal with historical milestones, which are over 150 years old.

Luker said they were badly in need of repairs and were difficult to maintain in the winter. The college is paying for a rehabilitation project planned for the steps.

Lafayette College is planning new trails to connect the campus and the College Hill neighborhood to downtown Easton.Image courtesy of Collège Lafayette | For lehighvalleylive.com

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Sarah Cassi can be contacted at [email protected].

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