With a snip of the scissors, Montgomery Township Mayor Devra Keenan formally opened a two-mile-long asphalt path that runs along Skillman Road and Burnt Hill Road during a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 9.
The six-foot-wide path begins on Skillman Road at its intersection with The Great Road/Route 601. It continues to the intersection with Burnt Hill Road, continuing on Burnt Hill Road to the Main Boulevard entrance into Skillman Park.
Keenan said the path was more than two decades in the making. It originated with the Montgomery Township Open Space Committee. Property easements for the path were secured by from the State of New Jersey in 2004, before the state auctioned off adjacent properties as preserved farmland.
“This pathway goes a long way toward connecting our community. It encourages safer and better physical fitness through walking and biking,” Keenan said.
Funding for the path came from a $360,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Municipal Aid program, plus an additional $440,000 from Montgomery Township’s open space tax, Keenan said.
A key aspect of the new path is an experimental section of concrete sidewalk near the driveway entrance into the Catholic Community of St. Charles Borromeo church on Skillman Road.
The 200-foot-long section of the path is made of pervious concrete, which allows water to trickle down through it and into the underground water aquifer. It has a rough texture that allows for water runoff to seep into the ground, compared to the smooth texture of conventional concrete.
Impervious surfaces prevent stormwater runoff from going into the ground, which may cause flooding. Pervious surfaces allow the water to seep into the ground, and do not create puddles.
The pervious concrete is made up of varying amounts of cement, water and sand. Some segments of the pervious concrete sidewalk have more sand, and others have little to no sand. Researchers will monitor the pervious sidewalk to find out which mixtures allow for more water to seep underground.
Montgomery Township officials worked with the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation on the pervious concrete experiment. The New Jersey Department of Transportation approached Rutgers about the pervious concrete, said Husam Najm, who is a professor of civil engineering at Rutgers.
“We want to see how it works on the sidewalks. We want to see people’s reactions to it. We want to get more information,” said Najm, who is also a project manager with the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation.
In addition to the asphalt path and the experimental concrete sidewalk, the project included a pedestrian bridge over sensitive wetlands areas. Crosswalks and curb ramp upgrades were made on Skillman Road at its intersections with Wessex, Highfield and Titus roads.
Skillman Road was repaved and the speed limit was reduced from 40 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour. Sharrows, indicating the road is to be shared with bicyclists, have been painted on Skillman Road.