New ETS Segment of Trail Brings it Close to Completion
By Anne Levin
The official opening May 31 of a segment of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, on the campus of Educational Testing Service (ETS), marked a significant milestone for those who have been working since 2002 to create a walking and biking trail linking segments of public and private land in Mercer County.
The .6-mile segment brings the trail to 20.25 miles, leaving only two more to be constructed. “We’re thrilled,” said Becky Taylor, the trail’s founder and co-president. “To pass 20 miles is huge. This goes a long way toward the completion of the 22-mile trail. And ironically, the very first section of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail was a small segment on the ETS campus.”
The paved trail is designed to reduce the reliance on automobiles, and promote health, fitness, recreation, and outdoor education. It is handicapped-accessible and can be used for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and skateboarding, as well as walking, jogging, and biking.
Taylor was working in community relations at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) when the idea for the trail first came up.
“We have a significant presence in this area, and we wanted to demonstrate, really boldly, the company’s commitment to being a good corporate citizen in the community,” she said “We also talked about the impact employees have on the roads. At that point, BMS had the Lawrenceville facility and Hopewell campus, and had just purchased a piece of property that is now the Princeton Pike campus. We thought maybe we should connect our offices to be anchors for a biking trail. So we invited representatives from Lawrenceville, Hopewell, Mercer County, and the [New Jersey] Department of Environmental Protection, and everybody loved the idea. It became a shared project, and we’ve been working on it ever since.”
The Lawrence Hopewell Trail crosses Rosedale Road at the intersection with Maya Drive, where it enters the ETS campus. The trail heads north for .1 mile before turning northeast where it parallels Assessment Road for another .1 mile before turning east and crossing ETS Drive. The new segment begins at that point, winding through a wooded area for .3 mile before intersecting with Province Line Road near Audubon Lane. It then continues north on Province Line for .8 mile where it meets Pretty Brook Road. This is where remaining sections of the trail are planned. The trail also circles the ETS campus providing users access to other trails on the property.
The nonprofit Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corporation is a member of the Circuit Trails, an 800-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian trails that, when completed, are expected to connect people to jobs, communities, and public spaces across a nine-county region in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Taylor said the nonprofit is talking with Princeton, Ewing Township, and Hopewell Borough about extending the trail to those communities. “Mercer County is doing a lot to encourage further enhancement for biking and walking trails,” she said. “We think it could be a significant start to a really awesome trail system here. It’s all about getting out and enjoying our world and thinking about it as a precious resource.”