Lawrence-Hopewell Trail segment opens

With a snip of the over-sized scissors, Educational Testing Service President Walter MacDonald opened the newest segment of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail on the Educational Testing Service campus on a warm and sunny day on May 31.

The new trail segment on the ETS campus, off Rosedale Road in Lawrence Township, is a little more than one half-mile long and brings the planned Lawrence-Hopewell Trail closer to completion. Less than two miles is all that remains to be built to complete the 22-mile trail that links the two townships.

“This is a gorgeous day as we celebrate the latest achievement in the 17-year history of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail,” said Eleanor Horne, co-president of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corp., and the former corporate secretary and vice president at ETS.

“Every opening of a segment of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail is special, but this one is unusually special,” Horne said. That’s because the first link of the trail was created on another portion of the ETS campus several years ago.

It is also special because the newly-opened segment puts the development of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail over the 20-mile mark – 20.5 miles, to be exact, Horne said. The newest link is especially meaningful for her, Horne said, noting that she spent 40 years working for ETS.

The Lawrence-Hopewell Trail enters the ETS campus on Rosedale Road, opposite Maya Drive. It meanders across the campus to ETS Drive. The newly opened segment begins at ETS Drive and goes through a wooded area to Province Line Road, near Audubon Lane.

The Lawrence-Hopewell Trail was envisioned by Becky Taylor, the co-president of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail Corp., when she was working for the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. The pharmaceutical company and ETS were early supporters of the trail, which links their corporate campuses in Lawrence Township.

“Becky developed a vision for a multi-purpose trail to connect corporations, neighborhoods, parks and towns,” Horne said. “There is nothing like the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail anywhere in the world. It is the only multi-purpose trail designed by citizens and not government.”

The Lawrence-Hopewell Trail was intended to be a gift to the community, Horne said. It is a safe and family-friendly trail for pedestrians and bicyclists that connects Lawrence and Hopewell townships. A trail counter at the Keefe Road crossing counted 400,000 users in 2018 – “and the number is growing rapidly,” she said.

Horne thanked MacDonald, the ETS president and chief executive officer, and Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, who she called “our hero. Our success in large measure is due to Brian’s support. No one took us seriously until Brian did.”

Hughes said he was proud to be the Mercer County Executive as the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail got under way.

“In 2003, I was the Mercer County Executive. I got a call from Eleanor, I got a call from Becky, I got a call from Eleanor and I got a call from Becky. They said, ‘Don’t forget the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail,'” Hughes said.

“It was an opportunity to show what Mercer County can do. Eleanor had a vision for Mercer County. Thank you, Eleanor, for bringing me along,” Hughes said, adding that Taylor, the co-president, was an integral part of getting the trail started.

MacDonald said ETS became partners with the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail Corp. in 2002 because it believed in the power of the community to marshal resources to get important things done. The first segment of the trail opened on the ETS campus in 2004.

“ETS believes in the importance of developing a sustainable approach to reducing transportation by car on our congested roads, and the importance of providing a safe way to get to work, school, and the many wonderful parks in our area,” MacDonald said.

The Lawrence-Hopewell Trail contributes to health, fitness and fun, MacDonald said. It is enjoyed by thousands of people, including many ETS employees, he said, adding that ETS is proud of the newest segment of the trail.

Lawrence Township Mayor Christopher Bobbitt said that “thanks to two dedicated women” – Horne and Taylor – the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail has become a reality.

Mayor Bobbitt also thanked ETS “for its stellar support of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail and many other projects over the years that have contributed significantly to the quality of life in our town and the surrounding area.”