In response to the last two posts concerning the LV right-of-way from Allentown north to Cementon
, and the ability to hike/bike the right-of-way, I refer you to an article posted on today's (February 2) Morning Call website concerning the completed sale of said right-of-way and the proposal to turn it into a 2-lane highway and parallel hiking/biking trail:
http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-a ... story.html
To paraphrase the article, a developer associated with "The Waterfront" development in Allentown (site of the former Lehigh Structural Steel plant) proposes the development of a 3.25 mile two-lane road from Union Boulevard in Allentown north to Race Street in Whitehall township (current end of the RJ Corman-operated former Lehigh Valley main line).
The article also states that the parallel biking/hiking trail would run from Hamilton Street in Allentown to Pine Street in the West Catasauqua section of the township, and would eliminate the only gap in the 165-mile Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage trail that runs from Mountain Top south to Bristol. (Not sure how accurate that statement is….there is still a gap from Lehighton to Jim Thorpe, but I believe plans are being formulated to fill that gap).
In retrospect, since taking over the former LV mainline, RJ Corman has failed to develop any traffic north of the Lehigh Structural Steel plant following the closure of the Tarkett plant in Fullerton (with the exception of some one-time temporary pipeline offloading and storage). Now that the Structural Steel plant is being converted into offices/luxury apartments, all hopes of any track remaining seem lost.
As for relaying tracks and restoring service north to Whitehall Cement in Cementon, I believe there was some serious discussion back in the late 90s or early 2000s, but the Cement wouldn't commit to the guaranteed minimum number of cars to make the service profitable. And now that the railroad bridges are removed in Hokendauqua, I doubt that restoration is even remotely feasible. An often quoted figure is $1million for a new mile of railroad track construction. Even thought the right-of-way is there, the costs of engineering a new bridge (plus associated costs for archaeological surveys, legal fees, track construction, and fighting off NIMBYs) might negate any profits derived from such a venture. Not sure how much stone reserve is in the area, and how much longer the plant can continue to operate profitably. You can be sure Norfolk Southern would research that well and see if the investment would constitute a return on the investment, or if those funds would provide a better and quicker ROI in other infrastructure projects related to their main lines.
So get those photos of the existing track while you still can.
--Sic transit gloria mundi--