Thursday, September 16, 2010

D&R Canal Towpath Resurfaced this past Summer

At some point this past summer a portion of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath was resurfaced and the width standardized using a crushed red shale aggregate. The installation of the new surface has been confirmed from Landing Lane in New Brunswick, all the way down to the Griggstown Causeway but could extend further south than that.

The new smooth red shale surface on the D&R Canal Towpath.
This section is between New Brunswick and South Bound Brook,
just behind the Rutgers Preparatory School on Easton Avenue.

The new surface is a real pleasure to ride on and is even stable enough for cyclists using narrow road tires even though I wouldn't recommend using a road-bike on the towpath over long distances. With the new smooth surface, riding the canal towpath can now be done at faster speeds and is wide enough for two riders to comfortably ride abreast of one another.

Also, red shale is native to the Piedmont Region that the canal passes through so it looks natural and not out of place like some of the other materials used on the path in the past. I find this to be a nice aesthetic detail and give the D&R Canal Commission a "Thumbs-Up!" for getting this detail right.

Here the new surface was put down underneath this long and bumpy stone spillway.
While currently a pleasant and clever alternative to the spillway, this new surface
is likely to erode away the first time the canal level breaches the spillway.

My only concern is that a binder agent was not added to the red shale aggregate to stabilize the material from water caused erosion. Already there was some evidence if minor erosion in scattered locations and there has been very little rain in this area all Summer. It would seem that come the first major rain event, the amount of erosion will become much more noticeable and I have little hope of this material will remain in place during any flooding, which is very common along the entire length of the canal.


JD said...

This new surface is amazing to ride. I hope they keep going further South with it. The stretch between Kingston & Rocky Hill is some rough riding currently.

Andrew said...

Red shale only currently extends about 2.4 miles south of Blackwells Mills toward Griggstown (i.e., the last 1.1 miles toward Griggstown is still the traditional surface).

Andy B from Jersey said...

Yes, I found that out later in the year. Thanks for the exact mileage though.