Why is the the trail sometimes closed at the Newville trailhead?

The entire trail is not closed.  Only the half-mile paved section of the trail at the Newville trailhead is closed.   The rest of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail remains open from dawn-to-dusk all year long even when you see the closed sign.  You may access the open sections of the trail via the grassy strip of land on the north side (the Newville side) of the pavement.

The Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council (CVRTC) grants an easement to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for occasional use of the first half-mile of the trail in Newville for PennDOT’s Light Weight Profiling (LWP) certification.  Contractors building roads in the state need calibrate their construction equipment used in determining the smoothness of paving projects.  PennDOT uses this part of the trail as a test track for that purpose.  This paved section was built by PennDot at their expense in exchange for letting them use it for calibrating contractor equipment.   We get the benefit of a paved section of trail that can be used all year long while PennDot uses it relatively few times,  mainly in the morning in the spring and early summer.