OHIO RIVER TRAIL COUNCIL

In The News

Piisburgh Post-Gazzette

Mon Wharf riverfront trail nearly complete

Thursday, November 12, 2009

By Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

Work continues on the 2,000-foot-long biking and walking trail on the rim of the Mon Wharf. Officials have scheduled a ribbon-cutting for Monday. The $3 million project is the first of three phases in a plan to connect Point State Park with the Eliza Furnace Trail and the Great Allegheny Passage. The project features a concrete and bluestone walkway.

A 2,017-foot-long biking and walking trail on the rim of the Mon Wharf is nearly complete, and officials have scheduled a ribbon-cutting for Monday.

The $3 million project, which began in March, is the first of three phases in a plan to connect Point State Park with the Eliza Furnace Trail and the Great Allegheny Passage, which goes all the way to Washington, D.C.

The wharf project features a concrete and bluestone walkway along the river's edge, bordered by an earthen berm of landscaping that will bring trees, shrubs and grasses to the formerly barren wharf. Species will include red maples, shadblow and tradition serviceberry trees, eastern redbuds and clusters of soft rush and little bluestem grasses, all of which are intended to bring native color to the edge of the wharf during the changing seasons.

Workers continued to pour concrete and install pavement and landscaping yesterday. The landscaping has been designed to withstand the river flooding that occurs on the wharf a few times a year and allow the water to drain afterwards. Connections for high-power hoses are included so that debris can be washed away. New lighting also is being added.

"This project has completely changed one of the city's most visible urban edges, and we couldn't be more thrilled for Pittsburghers to experience the Mon Wharf in a completely new way," said Lisa Schroeder, executive director of Riverlife, the project developer.

The two remaining phases are an $8 million connection to Point State Park that will be cantilevered over the Mon River to avoid Fort Pitt Bridge piers and a $4 million switchback rising from the wharf surface to the Smithfield Street Bridge.

The park connection is fully funded and expected to be built next year; money is still being raised for the switchback, said Riverlife spokesman Stephan Bontrager.

"We're confident that we'll be finding the funding sources [for the switchback]," he said. About $1 million has been secured so far.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, has requested a $2.5 million earmark for the project in the new federal transportation bill, but there is no indication that Congress is prepared to act on the legislation in the near future.

Mr. Doyle, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl are among those scheduled to speak at the 10 a.m. dedication on Monday.

"The investment in our region's riverfronts is paying off and the new Mon Wharf is a confirmation of that," Mr. Onorato said in a statement yesterday.

Funding for the first phase was provided in part by Riverlife, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PennDOT, the K. Mabis McKenna Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

While the wharf parking lot will continue to operate at the site, its 700-space capacity has been reduced by 150 to 200 spaces to accommodate the trail.

Jon Schmitz can be reached at jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868.


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09316/1012819-53.stm#ixzz0WqeXMaJl

 

Daily American

The Great Allegheny Passage: A profit for the region

Daily American

Somerset County, Pa.

Wednesday October 28, 2009

By JUDY D.J. ELLICH
Daily American Staff Writer

An 18-month economic impact study found that the Great Allegheny Passage generated over $40 million in annual spending and another $7.5 million in wages in 2008.

“The Great Allegheny Passage is clearly a significant economic engine,” said
Trail Town Program Director Cathy McCollom. “It is apparently recession proof.”

The study was conducted by Campos Market Research as a project of The Progress Fund’s Trail Town Program, Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau and the Allegheny Trail Alliance. The study analyzed gross revenues attributed to the trail, business decisions influenced by the trail and trail user demographics.

“This study is a great validation of what we expected of the trail,” said Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail
Alliance. “It was built with recreation-based community development in mind, and the numbers are showing the success of the trail.”

The trail, which now connects the
Pittsburgh region to Washington, D.C., has become a national and international destination that hosts an estimated 750,000 trips annually, she said.

The study shows that small businesses along the trail are on the rise.

“It is not surprising that the numbers keep increasing,” said Hank Parke, spokesman for the
Somerset County Rails to Trails Association. The association is one of the seven groups that comprise the Allegheny Trail Alliance.

“There are so many small businesses that support the trail. The number of trail users increases and the number of small businesses supporting the trail is going to increase,” he said.

Research was conducted in three phases from February 2008 to August 2009. First, 117 trail businesses were surveyed on the trail’s economic impact in March 2008. A year later, 120 trail businesses were surveyed to compare revenue and wage information. Previous studies were conducted in 1998, 2001 and 2006.

The report findings “is a testament to the amazing potential the Great Allegheny Passage has to generate significant investment into the region,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster. “The passage is a well-tuned engine of economic activity and this report will only help speed along future growth, opportunity and investment to benefit our communities.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy agreed. He said that the trail also promotes the natural beauty of the region along with a positive economic impact.

Jackie and Craig Bowman opened their bed and breakfast and bicycle rental and parts in June. The business is called Gram Gram’s Place and is located on
Main Street in Meyersdale. The Bowmans said they are pleasantly surprised at the number of bikers who have already used their business.

The house was previously owned by Craig’s grandmother, Olive Darrah, who died in July, but not before she told them how pleased she was with their new business.

“We would sit on the porch and watch bikers going past back and forth to the bike trail. Some would stop and we’d give them water,” Jackie Bowman said.

Last September the couple, with the blessing of Darrah, began working on making a home into a bed and breakfast and bike rental and parts business. They named the overnight lodging rooms after family generations of women. They named the new business after what their children called Darrah — Gram Gram.

“It was a hard nine months but worth it,” Jackie said.

“The recreational and economic impact that biking and hiking trails have on our region is overlooked and understated,” U.S. Rep.
John P. Murtha said in a news release. “When we started converting former rail lines into trail networks more than 30 years ago, none of us had any idea how successful they would be.”

Donna Gambol, executive director of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, said the trail has experienced a revival.

“Our trail towns have experienced a renaissance as new businesses, homeowners and visitors have contributed to their revival,” she said in a news release.

As part of that revival there has been a shift in focus of the trail blazers from building it to promoting it.

“The study is invaluable,” said Somerset County Trail Coordinator Brett Hollern. “It shows founders that the development is real; and it helps prospective businesses with their business plans.”

It is the small details that count, according to officials.

About 1,272 trail users were surveyed throughout the 2008 trail season, according to McCollom.

“We found that more people use the trail on Monday than on Friday. There are a lot of businesses along the trail that are closed on Monday,” she said.

The full study is available at http://www.trailtowns.org/ and http://www.gaptrail.org/.

Judy D.J. Ellich can be contacted at judye@dailyamerican.com.     

Comment on the online story at dailyamerican.com.)

 

Tribune Review

Great Allegheny Passage trail investment pays off

By Jennifer Reeger

TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Pittsburgh, Pa

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A recently completed study gauging the economic impact of the Great Allegheny Passage quantifies the bike trail's value to the region in terms of hard numbers -- $40 million, to be exact.

The 18-month study of trail-related spending along the 132-mile pathway showed that more than $40 million was spent directly by users in 2008. Another $7.5 million in wages can be attributed to the trail, the study concludes.

In 2001, direct spending by trail users was $7.26 million, and officials associated with the trail said the numbers will continue to rise.

"We endeavored to raise the money to build the trail because we thought it was not only going to be a wonderful recreation experience but also return benefit to the communities in terms of tourism and community and economic development," said Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance.

"That was part of the promise when we went to our local foundations, to our local corporations, to the volunteers and mom-and-pop businesses and to state and federal government sources ... so it's great that the economic impact studies validate our assumptions," she said. "The economic data says we are getting return on that investment."

The study was a project of the Trail Alliance, The Progress Fund's Trail Town Program and the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau.

Officials hope to use the study, which was conducted by Campos Market Research from February 2008 to August 2009, to attract investors and entrepreneurs to open trail-related businesses.

The study enables Cathy McCollom, director of the Trail Town Program, to show investors hard numbers when convincing them to open shops and bed-and-breakfasts in small towns along the trail.

"Now we can tell them not only is (the impact) significant, but it shows no signs of abating because this was happening during an economic crisis. These small businesses are doing quite well, and the market has shown no sign of letting up," McCollom said.

The study analyzed gross revenues attributed to the trail, the ways it influenced business decisions and trail user demographics. The research consisted of surveys of trail businesses as well as trail users.

The study found that:

Business owners attributed 25 percent of their sales to the Great Allegheny Passage. More than a quarter of businesses reported expansions or plans to expand within the next year.

Overnight trail visitors spent an average of $98 per day, while local users spent about $13.

Overnight visitors tend to be more affluent, with 35 percent earning more than $100,000 a year.

Donna Gambol, executive director of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, said the study shows that efforts to market the trail have paid off.

"It just helps the whole region," Gambol said. "This is a corridor every bit as much a corridor as Route 22 or the turnpike in terms of bringing people to the area that might have not come to the area otherwise."

The Great Allegheny Passage runs from Duquesne to Cumberland, Md. In Cumberland, the trail connects to the C&O Canal Towpath, creating a 320-mile corridor between Duquesne and Washington.

But there is more work to do. The Trail Alliance has set Nov. 11, 2011, as the goal to complete the trail to Pittsburgh.

Boxx said $65 million has been invested in building the trail so far -- meaning 60 cents was returned on every dollar of that investment in 2008 alone.

"When it's connected into Pittsburgh, I imagine that $40 million is going to grow into $60 million," she said.

McCollom and Boxx said the hope is to add even more diverse businesses in trail towns.

"We're finding that the trail user is interested in exploring the towns and purchasing local arts and local crafts," McCollom said. "They want some memento of their journey in addition to the food and drink and sleep they obviously need."

And there's a need for unique restaurants and establishments that offer craft beers and fine wines. Coffee shops are a must.

Trail visitors, who tend to be older and wealthier, are looking for an experience.

"They're meandering and enjoying and tasting and experiencing the towns," McCollom said.

Jennifer Reeger can be reached at jreeger@tribweb.com or 724-836-6155.

 

Beaver County Times & Allegheny Times

Biking, busing and buddying-up: Fewer commuters go it alone

Sunday October 18, 2009

By: Michael Pound

Beaver County Times

Even though gasoline prices had declined to more tolerable levels, more of us found alternate ways of getting to work in 2008, according to figures recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

There’s no question that the car is still king, but the number of people who drove to work alone dropped in Beaver, Allegheny and Lawrence counties in 2008, while those who carpooled, took public transportation or walked to their jobs increased.

The data, part of the 2008 American Community Survey, shows that more than 80 percent of workers 16 years and older in Beaver County still drove alone in their personal vehicles to get to work in 2008. But that figure dropped from 84.5 percent over the previous three years, and the general manager of the Beaver County Transit Authority thinks the downturn in the economy is behind the change.

“I think there’s no question that the tight economy got more people thinking about finding an alternative way to get to work,” said Mary Jo Morandini. “We just completed the biggest year we’ve ever had, and I have to believe that’s the reason.”

BCTA fixed-route riders took more than 811,000 bus rides in the one-year period that ended June 30, Morandini said. That was a jump of 7.5 percent from the previous year, when BCTA counted 754,000 riders.

Kristen Sheleheda, BCTA’s supervisor of planning, marketing and business development, said numbers in the current year will be driven down by the week that Pittsburgh hosted the G-20 Summit; the authority used just four buses into Pittsburgh that week, instead of the normal 20. That aberration aside, Morandini said she expects the growth to continue.

“It’s a smart decision,” she said. “Every time you ride public transportation, you’re leaving your car at home and saving on gas, on maintenance, on parking. It’s like putting money back into your wallet, and everyone is looking for ways to do that.”

The census figures show that people who rode bicycles to and from work declined slightly in all three counties, but Marlin Erin, owner of Snitger’s Bicycle Store in Beaver, thinks it could catch on here as it has in the city of Pittsburgh.

“There are limitations in Beaver County, like the lack of bike lanes or narrow road shoulders,” Erin said. “But if you look at what Pittsburgh has done in just a few years, and you look at what some of the local municipalities are doing to support rail trails here, it’s not hard to think that bike commuting could be a big deal here.”

Erin said Pittsburgh has added bike lanes to major roads in the city and made other commitments to making itself a more bike-friendly town.

“Five years ago, no one would have thought of Pittsburgh as being a bike-friendly city, but now it’s on the map,” he said. “It takes a commitment from the municipal governments, and it can be done here.”

A huge step would be the continued support of the Ohio River Trail Council, the group that wants to build rail trails that would run along the Ohio River from East Liverpool, Ohio, through Beaver County to Robinson Township, where it would connect with the Montour Trail, Erin said.

“The municipalities have lined up to support that trail, and that’s really encouraging,” he said. “If people have access to something like that, they will use it, and they’ll use it every day.”

Michael Pound can be reached online at mpound@timesonline.com.

 

Greater Allegheny Passage

Amtrak Bicycle Service Survey Results- Executive Summary

Greater Allegheny Passage

September 30, 2009  at 11:43am

The Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath connect in Cumberland, MD, to create a continuous biking or hiking pathway from Pittsburgh to DC. This non-motorized route parallels the rail line that carries Amtrak’s Capitol Limited route, which provides service from Chicago to Pittsburgh to DC. This ready-made shuttling service by rail presents a great opportunity for bicyclists who wish to transport themselves and their bikes to a destination and bike back to their starting point, or vice versa.

The Trail Town Program and Allegheny Trail Alliance recently conducted an online survey to determine how much consumer interest there is for Amtrak to expand upon its bicycle service on the Capitol Limited route. The Trail Town Outreach Corps compiled the results from nearly 1,300 individuals who completed the survey. Here is what we learned:

• 99% said yes or maybe to using bicycle service if Amtrak provided expanded service on the Capitol Limited route.

• Pretty much everyone wants to use bicycle service on the Capitol Limited route if Amtrak provides it, even if they have never used bicycle service in the past.

• An overwhelming majority of people ranked roll-on, roll-off bicycle service as their first choice in terms of which type of bicycle service is desired.

• Many people also commented on allowing trailers, tandem, and recumbent bikes onboard.

• This route can be a pilot project for allowing “unusual” bicycles to be rolled on and off, demonstrating an inclusive approach to multi-modal transportation.

• The choices listed in the survey are currently offered on other Amtrak routes
o The Capitol Limited route only offers checked baggage service only at Pittsburgh and DC.
o Folding bicycles can also be brought onboard as carry-on baggage, which some people said they do.

• Some people also would have preferred bicycle hooks or bicycle cars to be an option.

When asked what is the most they would be willing to pay for bicycle service in addition to their trip tickets, respondents indicated they would spend:

• MEAN (average)- $23.18

• MODE (most written response)- $25

• MEDIAN (middle of all responses)- $20

• People are willing to spend up to half of their ticket price to bring their bicycles onboard.
(a DC to Pittsburgh ticket is $44 if purchased in advance)

• People are willing to pay more for the convenience of roll-on, roll-off bicycle service than checked baggage service (only $5 to check baggage and $15 additional to buy a box).

• These stations were chosen to be included in the survey due to their close proximity to the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath.

• The two trails connect in Cumberland, and people want to start or finish their ride there, so that demonstrates a need.

• Service in Cumberland will positively impact the economies of towns along both trails.

Additional Comments

• There were 532 responses for additional comments, including:

• “Most users of this trail aren't really prepared to "partially disassemble" and reassemble their bikes. So we really, really need roll-on/roll-off service. In addition the increasing numbers of people riding recumbents, trikes, tandems, etc and the number of people pulling trailers for camping gear and kids mean that the service must accommodate the full range of bikes, not just single upright diamond frames.”

• “Roll-on, roll-off service would be a WIN-WIN for Amtrak & the increasing number of bicycle tourists using this route. Many, many cyclists using the GAP and C&O trails are also train buffs and would choose this shuttle method over any other just for the experience of riding the train. I am mystified by Amtrak's inability to recognize the economic benefit from increased ridership it would receive by providing this service.”

• “This would be a wonderful option and would help stimulate economic development via tourism in communities that desperately need the help! Thank you for considering this option.”

• “I have provided shuttle service for people who probably would have used AMTRAK if it had been available.”

• “The C&O and GAP bike trails are without question the finest tours in the US. Running car shuttles is difficult, time-consuming and environmentally questionable. I would use Amtrak at least twice a year if not more to do my favorite sections of the trails.”

• “I run a B&B in Harpers Ferry, and I know roll-on bike service would gain you a fair amount of business here in Harpers Ferry.”

Background Information

• 1,292 completed responses out of 1,357 people who started the survey

• The survey was open on Survey Monkey for 3 weeks: July 21, 2009 to August 10, 2009.

• Advertising this survey was concentrated on the Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal Towpath corridor, which parallels Amtrak’s Capitol Limited route from DC to Pittsburgh, PA.
o The majority of responses were from zip codes in the immediate area between Pittsburgh and DC, but we had responses from 35 states and DC, Canada, and the UK.

State # of Responses
PA 326
MD 264
DC 222
VA 157
NC 75
OH 34
IL 30
MA 28
WV 21
NY 20
CA 17
MI 16
DE 10
NJ 9
MO 7
RI 7
CT 5
IN 4
SC 4
WA 4
AL 3
AZ 3
FL 3
MT 3
WI 3
CO 2
GA 2
IA 2
OR 2
TX 2
KY 1
ME 1
NH 1
NM 1
TN 1
UT 1
Ontario, Canada 3
Manchester, UK 1

The Great Allegheny Passage is already a significant economic generator in southwestern PA and western MD and is a national and international draw. Expanded bicycle service on Amtrak would allow the trail to become a feasible multi-modal travel and vacation experience, expand the trail market to the benefit of trail businesses and the regional economy, and increase revenue for Amtrak.

Vindy.com

Stavich Bike Trail to reopen soon

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Youngstown, Ohio

By Jeanne Starmack

STRUTHERS — An important connection between Ohio and Pennsylvania has been broken for nearly a year, but that is expected to change soon.

The Stavich Bike Trail, a 10.5-mile ribbon of pavement that begins in Struthers off state Route 289 and ends on Covert Road near New Castle, Pa., should be open again by the end of the year.

Major hazards have been fixed since the Pennsylvania part of the trail was closed in December, said Doniele Andrus, a shared greenways and environmental planner who works for Lawrence and Beaver counties of Pennsylvania.

There were no dangerous spots along the three miles of the trail in Ohio.

Lawrence County used $267,200 in federal funds distributed through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to repair three bridges along the trail and a major washout just outside Lowellville, Andrus said last week.

She said 32 culverts were replaced and banks were stabilized in drainage improvements.

Now, the county is awaiting $224,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to repave the trail and put up new signs, she said. It should arrive any day — it was expected Sept. 15, she said.

Meanwhile, people are using the trail. While they’re on the seven miles of it that belong to Lawrence County, they need to know they’re using it at their own risk, Andrus said.

People need to stay off the trail when the paving starts, which could be at any time, she said.

For bicyclists such as John McCormick, a member of the Youngstown-area bicycle club Out-Spokin’ Wheelmen, the trail is a connection to sleepy little towns such as Lowellville, where he and other Wheelmen like to stop at a weekly car show, and to the hills and woods of Lawrence County.

Runners and roller-bladers use it too, said McCormick, who began cycling 15 years ago to improve his health and can bike the trail in less than an hour on his 20-year-old 12-speed.

“Wind is sometimes a factor,” he said last week as he pointed out some of the trail’s scenery. “You could do the trail in 40 minutes, but it could take you an hour to come back.”

McCormick was on foot Tuesday morning as he made his way toward one of the new bridges, a wooden one over Coffee Run about four miles from the start of the trail.

“If you come here in June or July, there are mulberries,” he said while pointing out the trees, though fall is evident along the trail now. Nearby, a small walnut tree was loaded down with fat, green nuts.

The trail follows the Mahoning River and railroad tracks, having once been a rail bed itself before becoming an electric trolley line in 1889. Campbell philanthropist John Stavich and his brothers, Andy and George, donated $200,000 to finish the trail, which was started in the 1970s. It was dedicated in 1983, according to Vindicator files.

Humans aren’t the only creatures you’ll see along the trail.

“I’ve seen a lot of deer,” said McCormick. A mother raccoon and four of her half-grown babies crossed in front of him as he walked toward a beaver pond about eight miles from the trail’s head in Struthers.

Ducks cut paths there through a green layer of duckweed on the water, and it isn’t unusual to see geese and blue herons, McCormick said.

McCormick said he likes the Stavich trail mainly because it’s conveniently close to his home.

It’s hilly and bumpy in spots, he said, and sometimes the pavement is cracked and broken, though that will no longer be an issue.

He said the trail might be a little strenuous for a beginner, though people who’ve been riding for at least a year won’t find it as much of a challenge.

Notably missing on the trail is the litter that often spoils areas used by humans — the crumpled tin cans, candy wrappers and cigarette butts.

“Bikers like the idea of ‘leave no trace,’” McCormick said.

Though the summer is over, cycling doesn’t have to be, McCormick said.

Fall is a great time to ride because it’s cooler, and bikers tend to be in top shape by then, he said.

The Wheelmen ride nearly every day of the week, and they ride in winter, he said.

Their Web site, www.outspokenwheelmen.com, has more information.

 

Beaver County Times & Allegheny Times

Plans coming together for Ohio River Trail

By: Michael Pound - Beaver County Times

Beaver County Times

Published: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MONACA — Plans to build a trail that eventually would link Lake Erie with Washington, D.C., via Beaver County have progressed to the point that organizers are ready to show off their work so far.

Members of the Ohio River Trail Council will host two public events in and around Midland Thursday evening to outline their plans for the trail and push for public support.

“The big thing we want to accomplish is to raise the public’s awareness of the project,” said Monaca businessman Vince Troia, the council’s chairman. “We’re at the point where things are going to start to happen, so this is a good time to let everyone know what’s going on.”

The group has plans for two trails — one starting in Monaca and running along the south shore of the Ohio River until it meets up with the Montour Trail in Robinson Township, and one running from Bridgewater to East Liverpool, where it will connect with a series of trails in Ohio. The two Beaver County trails would be connected by existing bridges.

At Thursday’s event, much of the focus will be on the North Shore Trail, which Troia said will use an abandoned trolley line that used to run between Rochester and Steubenville, Ohio.

“We’ve walked part of the right of way to get a feel for what the trail will be like,” Troia said. “We’re still a long way from getting started on that side of the river, but it should be beautiful.”

Things are moving a little more quickly for the South Shore Trail, said Mario Leone Jr., Monaca borough manager and the council’s vice chairman. The council will issue specifications for a feasibility study on that portion of the trail Sept. 25 and hopes to award a contract for the study by the end of October.

 “I think we’re looking at an eight-month period for the study,” Leone said. “We’ll see what it says and hopefully be in a position to act on its recommendations.”

That will require money, which is why Leone said he’s happy the council is close to receiving nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service, a certification that should give the council access to grant funds.

“That will open a number of fundraising venues to us, ones we can’t access right now,” he said.

TRAIL MIXER

The Ohio River Trail Council will host two events Thursday night to promote its plans for a rail-to-trail project along the Ohio River in Beaver County:

6 p.m., Lock 57 Community Park, Ohioville — Public event to hear details about the trail plans, including a presentation by local historian Wayne Cole on the rail lines to be used.

7 p.m., Midland Borough Building, 936 Midland Ave. — Ohio River Trail Council meeting.

 

The Review

County supports bike trail extension

East Liverpool, Ohio

By TOM GIAMBRONI/Staff Writer

POSTED: June 21, 2009

The Review

LISBON — Federal funding is being sought to extend the Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail from Lisbon to East Liverpool. Dottie Betz, president of the Columbiana County Park District board, met Wednesday with county commissioners to obtain a letter in support of efforts to obtain the money. This is part of an effort by the Greater Ohio Lake-To-River Greenway Coalition to lobby area congressmen to secure enough federal funding to complete the proposed 115-mile bicycling/walking trail that would connect Ashtabula to East Liverpool by linking with existing trails. Of the 115 miles, 64 miles have been completed, including the 10-mile Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail that runs from Leetonia to Lisbon, with plans under way to get it extended north the final 1.5 miles to the Mahoning County line. Betz said they would like to extend it another 25 miles to the Point of Beginning in East Liverpool on the Pennsylvania line, following a patchwork of back roads and other means to get there. Once completed, it would provide a link to other Greenway trails in the Pittsburgh area and beyond. The local Greenway trail is one of the most popular recreation stops in the county, drawing an estimated 100,000 users a year. Betz said the proposal to extend the trail to the southern part of the county is garnering significant local support, especially from businesses who also would like to see a connector trail between East Liverpool and Wellsville. Commissioners gladly signed off on the letter of support. “I always refer to you as the Little Engine That Could,” Commissioner Penny Traina said of the board, a reference to fact the park board accomplishes much with very little public funding. “You are small but mighty.” tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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Beaver County Online

Beaver County Online

June 13, 2009

Monaca’s city manager is starting a push to begin work on a trail along the Ohio River for hiking, walking and biking. The borough already has $20,000 (remaining from a halted pool study) of the estimated $35,000 to begin the project. The trail would be intended to connect with the Montour Trail which will soon connect to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP already connects to the C&O). The C&O ends in DC.

Leone, Jr. is also interested in building the trail west to connect with the Great Ohio River to Lake Trail.

Michael Pound has a nice piece on this in the Times.

There is also an editorial on the construction of the trail.

While the Times article garnered positive response in the comments section, the opinion piece didn’t fair as well. Although there were a few raves. The rants ruled, including the following:

Personally, I think this idea is brilliant. The cost to put in a trail is (relatively) minimal and while maintenance is certainly necessary it doesn’t equate to many parks and recreation initiatives. Perhaps, some of this comes from my own love of cycling and being in the outdoors with my family, but building recreation areas such as this will improve our area exponentially.

 It does not only contribute to those who will use it, but it will increase both pride in our area and a draw for future residents.  Currently, not only my family, but several others I know, load up their families and drive nearly 2 hours to ride trails (45 minutes to Lisbon, Oh, 35 minutes to Coraopolis, or even over 90 minutes to ride the beautiful rails to trails in Oil City).  I pull my spawn in a trailer behind my bike and I refuse to drag my kids around on the streets of my city. Many drivers here simply do not have an eye for spotting cyclists (yes, I have been hit once and have had many near-misses).

So, keep going Monaca!  And here’s to Beaver Falls extending their trail. One mile is a good start, but its time to get blazin’ again.

 

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Bumpy, perilous bicycle route to D.C. will smooth out

By Chris Togneri
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, July 13, 2009

After riding more than 150 miles along the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh toward Washington, Ellen Mavrich encountered a group of cyclists heading the other way.

They were sitting by the side of the trail with their bikes, tired, muddy and dispirited.

"It looked like they'd just come out of a cave," said Mavrich, who helped lead four McMurray girls on a weeklong bike trip last month during a fundraiser to save Canonsburg Lake. "I mean, they looked shell-shocked. They were completely spacey."

Mavrich and the girls soon found out why.

As more and more cyclists take advantage of a 320-mile, car-free bike route to the nation's capital, they are learning that the journey is a tale of two trails.

There's the Great Allegheny Passage, stretching about 150 miles from McKeesport to Cumberland, Md., on a restored railroad bed. The crushed limestone surface is smooth, the trail is scenic and the trip is a joy, said several people who rode the trail last month.

Then comes the C&O Canal towpath.

The second half of the trip, they said, descends into an odyssey of tire-gripping mud, exposed rocks and roots, deeply rutted trails, overhanging branches, poor signage and many flat tires and spills.

"Maybe I was wrong to assume that the trail would be like the Great Allegheny Passage all the way to D.C., but that is the impression I got," said Max McIntosh, 36, of Coraopolis, who rode with friend Nick Santillo, 47, of Carnegie in early June.

"With all the roots, rocks, potholes and mud ... Nick and I had to ride single-file in some areas because the trail was so overgrown."

That soon could change.

Kevin Brandt, superintendent of Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, said millions of dollars in federal money is earmarked for C&O trail improvements.

This fall, crews are scheduled to begin repaving the most problematic stretches of the trail with a gravel mix, paid for with $660,000 from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Fund, Brandt said.

An additional $12 million has been allocated to restore sections of the trail that washed out years ago near an area known as Big Slackwater, he said. The park applied for $4.4 million more for other upgrades, he said.

"We're absolutely thrilled and working furiously," Brandt said. "People will see big improvements."

More than 3 million people visit the park and tens of thousands of cyclists ride the length of the two trails each year, making the upgrades all the more important, officials for both trails said.

"We're attracting visitors from all over the world. There's a buzz, and people want to do this," said Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, which maintains the Great Allegheny Passage. "It is incumbent upon all of us to work with our congressional delegates and make sure the condition improves."

It's unfair in the meantime to criticize the C&O Canal towpath, Boxx and Brandt said.

"Our (Great Allegheny Passage) trail was a railroad -- it's graded perfectly, and we just came and pulled off the rails and ties and put down stone," Boxx said. "But the towpath was always just a dirt trail. It was something for mules to walk on."

Indeed, the C&O Canal, built in the early 1800s, once served as a way for miners, sawmills and farmers to float products down the Potomac River Valley. In 1971, after nearly 50 years of neglect, the canal became a National Historical Park.

Because it runs so close to the Potomac River and its many tributaries, water collects more easily on the trail surface, Brandt said. In addition, the C&O trail has more trees than the Great Allegheny Passage. The trees provide shade on hot days, but they slow the dry-out after heavy rains, he said.

"And we've had a very wet spring," Brandt said.

Some cyclists said the C&O Canal is actually more interesting than the Great Allegheny Passage because of the many historic locks and dams along the way.

But, they said, the trail was so bad they usually were too tired to explore the sites.

"The trip went from 'Wow, this is great' to 'Man, let's just get there,' " said Paul Christensen, 44, a director of revenue management at the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown.

Said Mavrich: "It was actually dangerous to ride parts of the C&O trail. When you're in two, three inches of mud, and it's potted, and there's branches all over the place, it was just so easy to wipe out. ... The girls wiped out many times."

Beaver County Times & Allegheny Times

Pedal pushers: Monaca-to-Robinson hiking and biking trail would be a great asset

Beaver County Times 

Published: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 8:15 AM EDT

Taking a hike could have a whole new meaning for area residents if two local men have their way.

Monaca borough manager Mario Leone Jr. and borough businessman Vincent Troia envision a hiking-and-biking path called the South Shore Trail running along the
Ohio River from Monaca to the Montour Trail in Robinson Township.

But they’re thinking bigger than that.

They envision a hiking-and-biking trail that one day would run from
Lake Erie in Ohio to Washington, D.C. To accomplish that, Leone is also looking into a Bridgewater-to-East Liverpool, Ohio, trail that would hook up with the still-working-on-it Great Ohio Lake-to-River Trail, which ends in Ashtabula at Lake Erie.

The
Erie-to-Potomac connection is closer to reality than some might believe. A series of rails-to-trails already link Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., and the almost-completed Montour Trail would tie into it at Clairton. The East Liverpool-to-Robinson trails are the most important missing link.

Right now, Leone and Troia are putting together the grant money that is needed for a feasibility study. They’re also are making sure about the rights of way the South Shore Trail will need.

This trail would be an important development, and not just for residents of the communities through which it would go.

Because of its terrain, our region doesn’t have many places that are user friendly to serious and recreational hikers and bikers. By helping to fill this void, the South Shore Trail would further enhance the quality of life in our region.

This project deserves to be supported not only by federal, state and local governments but by area residents as well. It would be money well spent.

 

Beaver County Times & Allegheny Times

Trail from Monaca to Montour Trail

By Michael Pound, Times Staff 

Beaver County Times

Published: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 10:37 PM EDT

MONACA — Monaca’s borough manager wants to see a hiking and biking trail that would connect Lake Erie to Washington, D.C.

And naturally, that trail would run right through Monaca.

Mario Leone Jr. has a good start on a trail that would run from Monaca along the Ohio River until it connected with the Montour Trail in Robinson Township — and from there, a system of trails that ends in Washington. Leone is also looking into a Bridgewater-to-East Liverpool, Ohio, trail that would hook up with the Great Ohio Lake-to-River Trail, ending in
Ashtabula at Lake Erie.

Leone has been working with borough businessman Vincent Troia to form a nonprofit corporation, the Ohio River Trail Council, which will manage the upcoming feasibility study, as well as construction of the trail. The group has already solicited resolutions of support from the
Beaver County communities the South Shore Trail would pass through and will soon have similar resolutions from those in Allegheny County.

The council also has money. The study has an estimated $35,000 cost, and Leone said the group has already put together enough money for the match required for a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

And it may be able to extend its money even further. Leone said
Aliquippa has $20,000 from a swimming pool study it did not complete, and City Manager Tom Stoner has pledged that to the trail study.

“If we’re able to change the grant administrator from Monaca to
Aliquippa, we’d then use the other money for the South Shore Trail feasibility study,” Leone said. “We’d be able to get the whole process moving much more quickly.”

Leone said the group also has a good start on securing property for the trail.

“Much of it will be built on already-established rights of way, so there shouldn’t be too much trouble there,” he said. “And we’ve had discussions with (
Center Township developer Charles) Betters and the (Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development) about using their property, and they’re very supportive.”

Troia said the benefits of the trails would outweigh by far the work the council has put in and the expense of construction. For example, it would give bicyclists a dedicated path off heavily traveled roads and could help spur new development geared toward trail users.

“There are stretches of the property that aren’t conducive to traditional economic development,” Troia said. “But fishing piers, boardwalks and other recreational services would be a natural thing to see along the trail.”

Michael Pound can be reached online at mpound@timesonline.com.

South Shore Trail

Mario Leone Jr., Monaca’s borough manager, and Vincent Troia, a borough businessman, have already secured resolutions of support for their planned South Shore Trail from the towns it would traverse. Similar resolutions from the
Allegheny County communities are pending, they said.

Beaver County

Monaca,
Center Township, Aliquippa, Hopewell Township, South Heights

Allegheny County

Crescent Township, Moon Township, Coraopolis, Robinson Township

 

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Roaring Run Trail project gets $780,000 federal boost

By Chris Foreman
TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Monday, April 13, 2009

Like most rails-to-trails advocates, Rich Dixon touts the importance of finishing a portion of his community group's recreational path so it will link to another trail.

And that trail will lead to another.

And another, until bicyclists can zoom from Lake Erie to Pittsburgh's three rivers, from the City of Champions to the nation's capital, or along the Conemaugh River in the tiny Indiana County borough of Saltsburg to the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg.

But all of that takes money, which Dixon's Roaring Run Watershed Association was seeking to bond its Roaring Run Trail along the Kiski River, near Apollo, to the West Penn Trail near Saltsburg.

Until PennDOT announced a $780,000 grant last month through the federal stimulus package, the association's 600 members weren't expecting to have the cash on hand to resurface and widen a one-mile section in the village of Edmon and to build a restroom facility in Kiski Township.

Now, the Armstrong County group intends to add to the four-mile trail this summer.

"It would have been years coming," said Dixon, vice president of the group, which paved the first 1.5 miles with private money in 1991.

"It just all happened so quick," he added. "We're real fortunate."

The Armstrong County association has had better luck this spring than other trail project organizers, who say matching grants through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have become more competitive.

Before the stimulus package, the traditional transportation enhancement grants funneled through PennDOT from the federal government — through an average $433,900 award in Pennsylvania, according to the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse — hadn't been awarded for the past two years.

The stimulus package is boosting the Roaring Run Trail and providing $1.2 million for a $3.2 million half-mile link on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Allegheny County, but some other Western Pennsylvania groups say they're still trying to raise money for their projects.

In Indiana County, two prefabricated bridges will be installed this summer just west of Dilltown on the Ghost Town Trail. But the county's grant funding to cover the $1.2 million cost dates back to 2006.

"Everybody's just trying to finish what they have," said Ed Patterson, director of the county's parks and trails department. "This bridge project, I can't wait to get it done because I must get three or four e-mails a week: 'When is it getting done?'"

PennDOT already committed $1 million for the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, according to Malcolm Sias, Westmoreland County's parks planning coordinator.

The five miles of the trail follow coal and salt mines from Saltsburg to Slickville, and construction of the next five miles from Slickville to Route 66 near Delmont is expected next year.

Groups like the Butler-Freeport Community Trail Council are eyeing an April 22 deadline by DCNR for a chunk of the department's annual Community Conservation Partnership Program grants. They won't be announced until the fall.

Chris Novak, the agency's press secretary, said about $6 million has been designated for trail projects in the past several years, but this year it's expected to be a little less.

Among the funding sources is real estate transfer taxes through the state's Keystone Fund. With the housing slump, that funding is down some, Novak said.

The grants require a 50-50 match, which Novak said, "I guess, anecdotally, people are having trouble with that."

Chris Ziegler, president of the Butler-Freeport council, said they've raised about $95,000 of the $250,000 they'll need for maintenance, security, signs and the addition of 4.5 more miles of crushed limestone to the 16 existing miles of Butler-Freeport Community Trail.

"We put our name in the hat, but we haven't heard anything yet," she said of stimulus funding. "It seems like the whole grant process is: hurry, get it in and sit around and wait.

"This section is really an integral part, and it's hard to get everyone to see your vision when they're handing out the money," Ziegler added.

Organizations in Northwestern Pennsylvania are hearing that state grant sources are more competitive, said Debbie Frawley, Oil Region greenways and open space coordinator through the Franklin Industrial and Commercial Development Authority.

Frawley, who has attended meetings of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Alliance, said state departments are looking for connectors along trails and groups working regionally.

A spokeswoman from the national nonprofit Rails to Trails Conservancy said the group is hoping for more transportation enhancement funding from PennDOT, but says trail groups are fortunate to have some funding sources.

"We're very lucky in Pennsylvania to have funding available through DCNR for planning and construction of trail projects, but they certainly have been very competitive, and every year they become more competitive," said Pat Tomes, the nonprofit's Northeast Regional Office program coordinator.

Chris Foreman can be reached at cforeman@tribweb.com or 724-836-6646.

 

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

County hires firm to plot Allegheny Valley Trail

By Tim Puko
TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Friday, March 6, 2009

Allegheny County could have a plan ready by the end of the year for a 32-mile trail along the Allegheny River.

County officials selected McTish Kunkel & Associates to complete a development plan for the Allegheny Valley Trail from Millvale through Harrison, county Executive Dan Onorato said Thursday. The Allentown-based planning and engineering firm will plot the best route and identify all the landowners to create a comprehensive plan for the trail probably within 10 months, Onorato's spokesman Kevin Evanto said.

"Trail development is sort of a complex process because you have all the different property owners," Evanto said.

McTish is getting a $62,000 contract for the work. Half of that money will come from a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant, $10,000 from the county budget, and the rest from conservation groups and community agencies, Evanto said. Officials will have a cost estimate for construction after the study.

The trail is penciled in to go through 18 municipalities. Pittsburgh, Millvale and O'Hara already have parts of the path completed.

McTish officials are planning their first meeting with community leaders on March 10. One of those communities is Tarentum, where officials are planning part of the trail through a riverside park. Meetings with other community leaders, school officials, park advocates and then the public should happen later in the year, Onorato spokeswoman Megan Dardanell said.

Once built, the trail will link with the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Greenway and the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Mainline Canal Greenway, which follows a 320-mile path of the historic Pennsylvania Mainline Canal. It also will connect to the Rachel Carson Trail.

Tim Puko can be reached at tpuko@tribweb.com or 412-391-8650.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Trail to link city with 17 communities on Allegheny River

By Justin Vellucci
TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bikers and hikers will be able to trek from Pittsburgh up to the county line in Harrison on a new trail soon to be built along the banks of the Allegheny River, officials announced Friday.

The trail, sections of which are completed, would connect the city and 17 riverfront communities, as well as link Allegheny County to greenways running to Harrisburg and Erie, county Chief Executive Dan Onorato said. The Allegheny Valley Trail would lead to the Great Allegheny Passage, which, once complete, will link Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

"Once you're in our county, you're going to be able to trail everywhere on the rivers," Onorato said.

Bicyclists, municipal officials and community groups hailed the effort, which the group Friends of the Riverfront recently touted by seeking proposals to connect the 21-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail to the Armstrong Trail.

"Once the Great Allegheny Passage is finished, we look forward to connecting Pittsburgh to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh to Erie," said Thomas Baxter, the group's executive director. "We're really hoping to build on that."

"I think it's a wonderful way to link all our communities and get folks to utilize the rivers," said Julie Jakubec, township manager in O'Hara.

Sections of the proposed 32-mile trail that are completed include paths in Millvale and the 2.7-mile Squaw Valley Trail in O'Hara. A study looking into the best way to complete the trail should be done within a year, officials said.

St. Margaret Foundation yesterday contributed $25,000 to the construction. It pledged the money because it is dedicated to serving the health and wellness of those living and working around UPMC St. Margaret, executive director Matthew Hughes said.

Leaders could not estimate what it will cost to build the full trail.

A trail snaking through the Allegheny Valley will encourage people to wander into local business districts, as well as connect towns to Pittsburgh, said bicyclist Louis Fineberg, 40, of Bloomfield.

"It's a remarkable opportunity. I think it would do a lot to link our communities, which have been separated by roads like Route 28," said Fineberg, a consultant with the advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh. "Any way we can get cyclists out of harm's way ... and onto the rivers would not only be a boon to tourism but a boon for commuting, as well."

The completed trail would bring together the region's resources, such as parks, business districts and

entertainment venues, said Sean Brady, assistant executive director of Venture Outdoors.

"Connectivity is one of the greatest challenges for this area," Brady said. "Creating this linear type of connection serves to strengthen each of these individual amenities, which brings a great benefit to everyone along the way."

 

The Review

www.reviewonline.com/

Lock 57

Improvements being made at Ohioville site

East Liverpool, Ohio


BY HOLLY STEFANOFF (newsroom@reviewonline.com)

POSTED: August 31, 2008

Fact Box

Some History

The Sandy and Beaver Canal was completed in 1848, the Sandy and Beaver was intended to improve the economy of the farms and villages along its route. Starting in Glasgow, Pa. (in Beaver County) it followed Little Beaver Creek to its headwaters near Lisbon, then westward across a summit level to the headwaters of Sandy Creek at Kensington. It continued west to Bolivar, Ohio, on the Ohio and Erie Canal along the Tuscarawas River. The canal closed in 1852, only four years after completion, much to the chagrin of the local farmers who invested heavily and donated land for the canal. The eastern end of the canal, near the Ohio River, lasted a few more years but it too was doomed to early failure.

There were only three locks in Pennsylvania, nos. 57, 56, and 54 (locks were numbered downstream from the summit level near Lisbon). Lock 57 was at the end of Liberty Street in Glasgow, Lock 56 was along Beaver Creek a few hundred yards upstream. Nothing remains of these two locks. Lock 55 was in Ohio, following the creek as it meandered across the state line. Finally, Lock 54, in an excellent state of preservation, lies on the west bank of Beaver Creek, but is in Ohioville Borough. The lock is well worth seeing but it is in the most inaccessible spot in the county, requiring several miles of hiking through some of the roughest country imaginable. I hiked in with my son seventeen years ago and I hope to do it again soon.

Much remains of the Sandy and Beaver in Columbiana County, especially near Beaver Creek State Park, But Beaver County can claim one isolated lock, however hard it is to get in to see it.

- From www.bchistory.org

Denver L. Walton

BY HOLLY STEFANOFF (newsroom@reviewonline.com)

OHIOVILLE -

Phase Two of the Lock 57 reconstruction is nearly complete. Ohioville Mayor John Szatkiewicz said the two-year project was funded with grant money that former Pa. State Rep. Mike Veon helped the borough acquire.

"The project really started to snowball last summer and we broke ground in 2007," he said.

Phase One, completed last fall, included a new boat launch ramp, repaired dock, expanded parking lot and an addition floating dock for the boaters' convenience.

This summer, a walking trail is being constructed which will be about one quarter-mile long when finished. In addition, two small picnic pavilions and a playground are part of construction. Phase Two is expected to be complete before Oct. 1.

The Lock 57 project has been a lifelong dream for Szatkiewcz and his wife, Linda, the mayor says.

"I have been fishing at this lock since 1956. All six of my kids learned to swim here. It's a hidden treasure," Linda Szatkiewcz said, also pointing out everything has been made handicap accessible for convenience, with aspirations of a handicap fishing pier near the bridge.

"Our goal would be to have a wildlife reserve here," she added, referring to the many eagles, hawks, great herrings, geese, deer, ducks and fish that make their homes at Lock 57.

Lock 57 itself was originally constructed at the mouth of the Ohio River as part of the Sandy and Beaver Canal, according to Szatkiewcz.

Szatkiewcz said the area as it is now has been utilized by many kayakers, jet skiers, fishing and speed boats and even pontoon boats. He said there is plenty of room to swim and fish, and a rope swing is set up beneath the bridge.

"People fail to realize that the stream area, where the water is less than 200 feet deep, is a no-wake zone," Szatkiewcz said. "The stream is owned by Pa. until about a quarter-mile up, then it's Ohio, then back to Pa. People need to have a Pa. fishing license and all safety equipment, like a personal floatation device for all on board. That's very important and that's where many people run into violations."

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission monitor boaters for their safety and the safety of others in the water.

Szatkiewcz said local rescue teams have launched their equipment from the dock and practiced water rescues in the park.

"It's such a convenient area but few realize that it's just down the road," he commented.

John and Linda Szatkiewcz encourage area boatsmen, fishermen, swimmers and those who enjoy to outdoors to visit Lock 57 Park and enjoy what they have put so much effort and passion into.

 Subscribe to The Review

 

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Trail proposal would link Heritage and Armstrong

By Tony LaRussa
TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A local organization is looking to connect two existing trails along the Allegheny River by creating a link that snakes through 17 river towns.

Friends of the Riverfront, which developed and maintains the 21-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail that runs along the banks of Pittsburgh's rivers, is seeking proposals from companies interested in developing a feasibility study that will outline how to connect it to the Armstrong Trail.

"The number of people who use the Three Rivers Heritage Trail has exceeded our expectations, so it is an exciting step forward for us to begin the process of extending it up river where it will eventually link with the Armstrong Trail," said Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront.

The Allegheny Valley Land Trust has converted more than 30 miles of abandoned railroad lines to create the Armstrong Trail, which begins in Gilpin, Armstrong County, and runs to East Brady, Clarion County.

Some of the Armstrong Trail's development, however, has been stalled for a number of years by legal disputes over who owns the abandoned rail lines.

The new 34-mile trail would run along the Allegheny River starting in Millvale.

Squirrel Hill residents Mary Shaw, and her husband, Roy Weil, who are avid bicyclists, welcome the link to the Armstrong Trail.

"It's a fantastic idea," Shaw said. "The section of the trail in Freeport is important because it is a junction for other trails that have been completed or being developed."

Some of the biggest challenges will be obtaining the rights of way from businesses, including railroads, that own riverfront property, Baxter said.

"We try to stress that providing an easement through their properties is a benefit to the company in terms of employee health and wellness and being good neighbors in the communities where they are located," he said.

In instances where the trail cannot run along the river, cutbacks are developed into local communities.

"These community connections allow us to work around obstacles, but more importantly, they benefit the towns involved by bringing people into the business districts and creating access points to get on the trail," Baxter said.

"It's also important for the people who use the trails to have access to restaurants and other amenities."

Leader Times

Alliance maps plans for trail from Pittsburgh to Lake Erie

By Renatta Signorini
LEADER TIMES

Friday, May 23, 2008

A bike trail spanning from Pittsburgh to Lake Erie likely will feature Armstrong County along the way, according to a member of an alliance promoting the passageway.

Board members of the newly formed Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Alliance met Thursday morning at the courthouse annex building in Kittanning to discuss the potential route and the status of projects. The alliance consists of 12 organizations who own and/or maintain trails from Pittsburgh to Erie, including the Armstrong Rails-to-Trails Association.

The alliance is supported by several agencies, including the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources. Department officials advised the alliance yesterday to construct a project plan and set priorities.

Alliance President Jim Holden's ultimate goal, as written in an unofficial vision statement, is to connect the Erie Bayfront with the confluence of the three rivers, Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio, in Pittsburgh.

"In my mind there isn't any doubt that the trail will pass through Kittanning," Holden said.

The Allegheny Valley Land Trust, which owns the Armstrong trail, has purchased and converted 15 miles of abandoned railway in the county, said Ron Steffey, executive director.

The trail runs through Ford City, Kittanning and Templeton. The trust is looking to acquire funding to begin preliminary work on a trail through East Brady, he said.

About 60 percent of the Erie to Pittsburgh trail is completed, Holden said. The other 40 percent lies between connecting each of the trails and other land-acquisition hurdles.

One stumbling block along the route is a 30-mile gap between Kittanning and Pittsburgh in which there is no trail, Steffey said.

Friends of the Riverfront in Pittsburgh is attempting to get funding for a feasibility study to determine the best way to build a trail from the city to Schenley, in the southern part of Armstrong County. Litigation has been ongoing for an abandoned rail line between Schenley and Rosston that had been converted into a trail and maintained by the trust.

The Erie to Pittsburgh trail is still in the planning stage and subsections of the large project are in various stages of completion and land acquisition, Steffey said. The trail is a process of piecing the smaller sections together, he said.

The project may take awhile to complete, "but we do have a vision," Steffey said.

The portion from Pittsburgh to Armstrong County will be important, Steffey said, for city residents who

want to travel north without driving. The trail will offer a look at the heart of small towns that usually are bypassed on highways and travelers who will spend money, he said.

"It's income that can be coming into the area," he said.

The completion of the Erie to Pittsburgh trail would bring more opportunities to connecting trails throughout the passage, Holden said.

"The goal is to get to Pittsburgh (from Erie)" and hook up with the Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., passage, he said.

Renatta Signorini can be reached at rsignorini@tribweb.com or 724-543-1303, ext. 219.

 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hike and bike in Northeast Ohio on rail trail

Thursday, August 16, 2007

By Bob Downing, Akron Beacon Journal

http://www.ohio.com/

CHAMPION TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Northeast Ohio's Western Reserve Greenway is, in fact, very green. And very cool.

The 43-mile rail trail in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties is surrounded by leafy trees. It is a well-shaded trail that is 10 degrees cooler than the surroundings on a hot summer day.

The multipurpose trail is also part of a bigger project: to create a 100-mile corridor from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.

The Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway would run from Ashtabula on Lake Erie in Ashtabula County through Trumbull and Mahoning counties to East Liverpool on the Ohio River in Columbiana County.

The Western Reserve Greenway stretches from Champion Township north of Warren to West 52nd Street in Ashtabula. It roughly parallels state Route 45.

The route, the one-time Penn Central 714 rail line that shut down in 1976, crosses five state highways and will take you under Interstate 90.

It is similar to other rail trails: It is flat very flat.

The north-south trail features a lot of undeveloped countryside for bicyclists, walkers, joggers, skaters and equestrians. That includes passage through Mosquito Creek State Wildlife Area, with a small deck for watching wildlife.

You might see white-tailed deer, great blue herons, woodchucks, ducks, geese, wild turkeys and, if you're lucky, a bald eagle.

You will also see suburban houses, farms and businesses in the two counties, but the overall feel is a rail trail that is far away from Please see Rail trail, E9

Continued from Page E8 civilization.

The 10-foot-wide trail runs through some prime wetlands and can be a bit buggy at times.

The trail has been developed by countywide park districts in the two counties: Ashtabula County Metroparks and Trumbull County MetroParks.

They leased the right of way from the state.

The trail's southern terminus is off Champion Avenue East, just east of state Route 45. That's about one hour from downtown Akron.

But there's no trailhead or parking at the southern terminus, as I discovered on a recent visit.

You can park about one mile south of the trail at the Trumbull County Trade & Career Center off Educational Highway. You can then head north on Research Parkway (it's an easy pedal) to reach the trail.

When I asked a local walker where people park, he told me that most people park use the Sunrise Trailhead next to the rail trail at state Route 305. That is about one mile north of the trail's southern end.

The trailhead got its name from an old rail community that once existed there.

It is one of three trailheads along Trumbull County's 14.7 miles of trail.

The other trailheads are near Bloomfield on state Route 87 in Bloomfield Township and the Oakfield Trailhead (named for another old town) on Hyde Oakfield Road in Bristol Township.

The Trumbull County trail is totally blacktopped.

The final section of trail in Ashtabula County, near Rock Creek, is to be paved next year with federal funds.

That stretch about seven miles is rough and may be muddy. You will need a mountain bike to ride it.

Ashtabula opened its first section of trail in July 2002; Trumbull opened its first section in November 2003. Planning for the project began in the early 1990s.

There are six trailheads in Ashtabula: Herzog Rotary Park in Ashtabula Township; Munson Hill Station in Saybrook Township; off state route 307 and at Lampson Road, both in Austinburg Township; in the village of Rock Creek; and off U.S. 322 in the village of Orwell.

The rail trail also has strong ties to the Underground Railroad. In fact, the trail's northern terminus is at a building that was the last Ohio stop on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves heading for Canada and freedom.

Interestingly, the use of federal funds to build much of the trail also means that it is open in the winter to snowmobiles. That's a big consideration in often-snowy Ashtabula County.

There are picnic benches along the trail and restrooms at the trailheads.

Turnoffs to local trails provide greenway access to local residents.

Plans call for expanding the trail north to the city of Ashtabula waterfront and south to Warren and even farther south through Warren and Niles, said Mike Sords, an Ashtabula County park commissioner, and David W. Ambrose, a Trumbull County park commissioner.

The next greenway improvement in Trumbull County calls for extending the trail 2.5 miles south to North River Road at the north edge of Warren.

What's amazing is that the rail trail has been developed by the metro park districts in the two counties, even though the park districts have no employees and no levies to provide money and must rely on volunteers and lots of fundraising and federal, state and private grants.

They both get some money from county commissioners and from state gasoline taxes. But there is no assured source of park income in either county.

The Ashtabula-to-Warren trail is part of a bigger trail network that includes the 11-mile Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail from Lisbon to Leetonia in Columbiana County and the 11-mile Mill Creek Bikeway, also known as the Mahoning Bikeway, in Canfield and Austintown townships in Mahoning County.

About 60 percent of the 100 miles of trail has been built and most of the rest is being planned or designed.

The Ashtabula-Warren trail is open from dawn to dusk.

It is patrolled by volunteers. You can join them by calling 330-372-4873.

You can contact the Ashtabula County Metroparks at 25 W. Jefferson St., Jefferson, OH 44047; 440-576-0717; http://www.ashtabulacountymetroparks.org/.

You can contact the Trumbull County MetroParks at 347 N. Park Ave., Warren, OH 44481; 330-675-2480; http://www.metroparks.co.trumbull.oh.us/.

The trail also has its own support group: Friends of the Western Reserve Greenway at P.O. Box 1788, Warren, OH 44481. It sponsors a summer bike tour, WOW (or the World of Wildlife). It will be staged Aug. 12 with 20-, 40- and 62-mile routes. Check http://www.ndcis.com/wow for registration and information.

For Trumbull tourist information, contact the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau at 321 Mahoning Ave. N.W., Warren, OH 44483; 866-360-1552 or 330-675-3081; http://www.exploretrumbullcounty.com/.

For Ashtabula tourist information, contact the Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1850 Austinburg Road, Austinburg, OH 44010; 440-275-3202 or 800-337-6746; http://www.visitashtabulacounty.com/.

For information about the lake-to-river greenway, contact Mill Creek MetroParks at 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Road, P.O. Box 596, Canfield, OH 44406; 330-702-3000; http://www.millcreekmetroparks.com/.

First published at PG NOW on August 9, 2007 at 11:20 am

 

Rails to Trails Conservancy

http://www.railstotrails.org/ 

Trail of the Month: July 2007

Pennsylvania and Maryland's Great Allegheny Passage 

"Imagine a continuous rail-trail 150 miles long where annually more than half a million visitors hike, bike, ride horseback, ski or fish. Imagine that trail in the making for more than two decades, growing 20 miles one year, three miles the next, a mere mile the following year, 13.5 the next—and so on. Piecemeal—the work of seven different trail-building organizations in two states."

"Now imagine that rail-trail in late 2006 connecting to one of the nation's premier canal towpaths, the 185-mile Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O), to extend 335 miles from suburban Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. That's the Great Allegheny Passage, the country's longest multi-purpose trail and the site of the 2007 Greenway Sojourn, and also the first inductee to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. It's ready to explore, whether you have a week, a weekend, or just a day."
 
"There's plenty to see and do, and no need to rough it if you don't want to. If you start on the Passage at Mile 0 in Cumberland, Md., you can first investigate the terminus of the C&O Canal Towpath, visit the National Park Service's canal museum, or see a bit of historical Cumberland. Then cycle, hike or, if you like, board the
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad  (open May to December) for the 16 miles to Frostburg. There at the trailhead, learn about life in the horse-drawn age at the Thrasher Carriage Museum."
 
"Continuing on the trail toward Meyersdale (Mile 32, home to a railroad museum in the restored depot), you cross the Mason-Dixon Line, the Eastern Continental Divide with sweeping views of the surrounding hills and valley. Then pass through the 3,300-foot, illuminated Big Savage Tunnel, which swallows travelers with a long, cool breath."
 
"On either side of Meyersdale, viaducts lift the trail above the valley. First the Keystone Viaduct, 910-feet long, tip-toes above Flaugherty Creek. Just north of Meyersdale, the spectacular Salisbury Viaduct stretches 1,908 feet across the Casselman River Valley."
 
"Often tree-canopied, the Passage leads next to Rockwood (Mile 43) with its trailside bike shop and bed-and-breakfast, and across the river, an opera house in a restored mill. Moving on, you soon approach the old Pinkerton Tunnel which has fallen into disrepair and is no longer in use. The
Allegheny Trail Alliance  plans to restore it, but for now the trail follows the river around the Pinkerton Neck."
 
"At Mile 60, the community of Confluence gets its name from the Youghiogheny (yaw-ki-GAY-nee) and Casselman rivers and Laurel Hill Creek that come together like a turkey-foot below the surrounding mountains. The town of 800 offers B&Bs and restaurants, as well as the Youghiogheny Lake River Recreation Area for boating, fishing and swimming." 
 
"Going north from Confluence, the next 11 miles in Ohiopyle State Park are the oldest and most popular section of the Passage. The rail-trail follows the Yough River—beloved by anglers, whitewater rafters and kayakers—past dramatic rocky outcroppings and wooded, boulder-strewn banks. In Ohiopyle (Mile 72) there are lodgings, outfitters, eateries, the park visitors center and, not far off the trail, viewing platforms to see the falls. From here the trail continues on a beautiful bowstring truss bridge and then over the Ohiopyle High Bridge, great for watching rapids and rafters below. The next wooded stretch offers trailside waterfalls and follows the mad-churning Yough to Connellsville (Mile 88)."
 
"At this former coal boom-town of 9,000, which has a bike shop and other services for visitors, the Passage leaves the mountains and the river quiets. Other towns that once flourished with the mining, steel and glass industries—Adelaide (Mile 92), Dawson (Mile 94), Layton (Mile 102) and Whitsett (Mile 104)—dot this peaceful stretch." 
 
"Westmoreland County's Cedar Creek Park (Mile 110) offers riverside group camping, while four miles farther along, West Newton's B&Bs make it a burgeoning hub for trail users. The Passage follows the undulating Yough all the way to the Pittsburgh suburb of McKeesport (Mile 132), where the trail currently ends at McKeespoint Marina."
 
"But not for long. Pittsburgh's Point State Park, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers join to create the Ohio, is the planned end of the Passage. Already several downtown miles of the trail have been built, and the ATA aims to fill this final nine-mile gap in the trail in 2008 as Pittsburgh celebrates its 250th anniversary."
 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tunnel opening completes bike trail in Somerset County

Saturday, May 27, 2006

By Lawrence Walsh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

http://www.post-gazette.com/

MEYERSDALE, Pa. -- The Big Savage Tunnel, a 3,300-foot-long, dark, damp and dreary challenge to supporters of a bike trail linking Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md., was formally dedicated yesterday about 10 miles south of this Somerset County town.

The restoration of the 95-year-old former Western Maryland Railway tunnel was the biggest physical obstacle to completion of the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage between the two towns, said Hank Parke, president of the Somerset County Rails-to-Trails Association.

The tunnel had to be dealt with because there's no way around it. And walking a bike over Big Savage Mountain is an option only for the most hardy.

Now that the more than $12 million project is completed, pedaling, jogging or walking through the lighted tunnel is a breeze. Led by Bill Metzger of Confluence, more than 100 men, women and children pedaled through it yesterday at the conclusion of rain-dampened dedication ceremonies.

"It's a lot of fun," said 4-year-old Maggie Woodwell of Indiana Township, who pedaled her pink bike through it twice. Close behind was her dad, Davitt Woodwell, vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

For Mr. Woodwell, the ride through the tunnel was a continuation of the bike ride he started Thursday on a paved part of the Great Allegheny Passage on the South Side.

"The pressure now is on to complete the passage between McKeesport and The Point," he said.

Bicyclists can now pedal 117 continuous miles from McKeesport to Frostburg, Md., said Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, a coalition of seven rail-trail groups building and maintaining the passage.

Ms. Boxx, who has lobbied city, county, state and federal lawmakers and administrators for years to support the trail, acknowledged their efforts yesterday. And her "arm-twisting" persistence was cited by state Rep. Richard Geist, R-Altoona, chairman of the House Transportation Committee and an avid bicyclist.

The dedication of the tunnel will be followed today by a celebration of the completion of the trail through Somerset County. The 42-mile section runs from Confluence to the Mason-Dixon Line, about 1.5 miles south of the tunnel.

The festivities will begin at noon at the restored Western Maryland Railway station in Meyersdale. A "grand opening" ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. and will feature speakers who more than 30 years ago first envisioned a bike trail along the old railroad right-of-way and 20 years ago started building the first link from Confluence to Ohiopyle.

Mr. Parke, noting the passage of time since the first section of the trail was completed, said he has had six new grandchildren since then, "and they're all growing up on it."

For more information, go to http://www.atatrail.org/ or call 1-888-282-2453.

First published on May 27, 2006 at 12:00 am

Lawrence Walsh can be reached at lwalsh@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1488.

 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

David Bear: Getting the rail back into rail-trail

Sunday, May 21, 2006

http://www.post-gazette.com/

The official reopening of the Big Savage tunnel on Friday will mark an auspicious milestone for the rail-trail known as the Great Allegheny Passage.

Built in 1911 for the Western Maryland Railroad, the 3,300-foot tunnel that burrows through Big Savage Mountain is a major link on the pastoral rail-trail that runs 116 miles along the Youghiogheny and Casselman rivers and tributaries between McKeesport and Frostburg, Md. From Frostburg, another five miles of trail to Woodcock Hollow is completed, and the final nine miles into Cumberland, Md., will be refurbished by this fall. Once in Cumberland, cyclists can connect with the C&O Canal towpath that continue another 185 miles along the Potomac River to Washington, D.C.

This rail-trail is already a world-class route that attracted 400,000 users last year. Annual usage is expected to triple once the connections are complete.

Having spent many happy afternoons over the last 20 years peddling sections of the trails that are now Great Allegheny Passage, I have been looking forward to the longer runs. While the journey from Pittsburgh to Washington represents a major undertaking of at least a week, many riders may prefer shorter two- or three-day trips to Cumberland. A bike/camping expedition is a possibility, as is taking advantage of the new B&Bs, restaurants and other biking-services that have sprung up along the trail.

It's 67 miles from McKeesport to Confluence, a long but fairly level and entirely doable day, especially if you're traveling light. Confluence now boasts several charming accommodation and dining options. From there, it's 63 miles to Cumberland, making for a comfortable weekend trip. For a more leisurely pace, Ohiopyle, Rockwood and Meyersdale offer other mid-route overnight options. (All of these amenities are detailed in the "Trailbook 2006, the 20-Year Commemorative Edition," a handy guide and map published by Fieldstone Press. Copies can be ordered for $5 plus $2 shipping at http://www.atatrail.org/.)

The major problem with my long weekend plan is getting home. At this point, you can turn around and pedal back -- which adds another two or three days to the trip. You can also arrange to be picked up in Cumberland or leave a vehicle there beforehand, both of which can be complicated and costly.

The irony is that a better option already exists. Amtrak's Capitol Limited parallels the bike route virtually all the way between Washington and Pittsburgh, stopping in a number of towns along the way. Amtrak has reduced the service to one trip a day each way, but the westbound train is scheduled to stop in Cumberland at 7 p.m. and arrive in Pittsburgh at 11:33 p.m. The basic one-way fare is $27.

Even though Amtrak's schedules can be unreliable, cycling the rail trail one way and returning by railroad would make for a well-rounded experience.

Unfortunately, there's a big hitch in this plan. Although it's possible to ship bikes (in boxes) between Pittsburgh and Washington, Amtrak offers no baggage handling services in Cumberland or any of the other stops in between. So bikes cannot be loaded on board. End of story.

Or maybe not.

Amtrak already offers roll-on roll-off bicycle services and/or bike racks on a few other routes, such as the West Coast Capital Corridor. If there is enough demand from cyclists using the Great Allegheny Passage, would Amtrak add similar services at Cumberland? This would certainly enhance trail usage (and associated tourism) from Pittsburgh and Washington and points in between. Another possibility is having Amtrak provide a dedicated "tourism train" that runs between Pittsburgh and Cumberland.

Ambitious schemes perhaps, but everything starts with an idea. Twenty years ago, who would have thought we'd ever have a 335-mile bike trail between Pittsburgh and Washington?

Trail riders who support Amtrak adding bicycle service or creating a tourism train can register their views at a special e-mail address at the Allegheny Trail Alliance set up for these comments: trainservice@atatrail.org.

First published on May 21, 2006 at 12:00 am

Post-Gazette travel editor David Bear can be reached at 412-263-1629 or dbear@post-gazette.com.

The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance

Millennium Trails: "Honor the Past, Imagine the Future".(development of program)

JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance

| January 01, 2001 | OLSON, JEFF

"Millennium Trails will be very tangible gifts to the future. We will walk on them and hike on them and bike on them. They will be accessible to people of all ages and abilities. But in an important way, they represent more than the tangible effect of the trail. They represent a commitment and an investment in the kind of country we want in the next century." --First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Millennium Trails Announcement Event, October 5, 1998, Baltimore and Annapolis Trail

To engage all Americans in marking the new millennium in ways that will leave a lasting legacy, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton created a multi-program initiative with the unifying theme "Honor the Past, Imagine the Future." Millennium Trails is one of these programs, involving a partnership between the White House Millennium Council, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and many other agencies and organizations (e.g., the American Express Company, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Hiking Society, the American Association of Leisure and Recreation, Altrec.com, World T.E.A.M. Sports). This article will describe the major elements of the program and, hopefully, spark interest among AAPHERD members and encourage them to become leaders in the growing trails movement.

The Millennium Trails initiative promotes trails as a means of preserving open spaces, interpreting history and culture, enhancing recreation and tourism, improving physical fitness, and connecting our daily lives with the natural environment. Under this initiative, more than 2,000 trails across America will be recognized, enhanced, or built as part of our nation's legacy for the new millennium. These include hiking trails, bicycle paths, greenways and scenic byways through rural and urban landscapes, and cultural and heritage trails that preserve and commemorate major events in our nation's history. The promise and challenge of Millennium Trails is to preserve and enhance a precious part of our national heritage for future generations of Americans to treasure and enjoy. The core of the initiative centers on trails in three categories: National, Legacy, and Community Millennium Trails.

National Millennium Trails

Sixteen National Millennium Trails were designated by Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater on June 26, 1999, at the International Trails and Greenways Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The National Millennium Trails are visionary, ongoing projects that celebrate defining aspects of America's history and culture and the great diversity, complexity, and grandeur of our nation's trail system. In his conference speech, Secretary Slater said, "The National Millennium Trails connect our nation's landscape, heritage, and culture and demonstrate our national commitment to improving the quality of life for all Americans.

The 16 National Millennium Trails are:

American Discovery Trail--"From sea to shining sea" becomes a reality as the American Discovery Trail crosses the nation on a continuous line of existing trails, rail-trails, canal towpaths, forest lanes, and country roads. When complete, the trail will cover over 6,500 miles, connecting the past that we honor to the future envisioned in our imaginations.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail--This trail reaffirms our love and respect for the great beauty of our land. It is the nation's first major recreational trail--not a route of exploration, settlement, or trade, but rather a 20th-century recognition that we will have no trails in modern times unless we purposefully build and protect them. Stretching over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is a narrow footpath traversing the Appalachian Mountains' ridgecrests and major valleys. The need to protect the Appalachian Trail from encroaching development led to the passage of the National Trails System Act in 1968.

The Cascadia Marine Trail--A water trail in the Pacific Northwest currently enjoyed by canoeists, kayakers, and other watercraft enthusiasts as they explore the beauty of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier. It follows the wake of inlets and coves that originally marked a Native American water trade system.

Civil War Discovery Trail--Identifies and thematically connects the battlefields, military routes, and sites of historic significance from the nation's most serious breakdown in domestic tranquility. It provides a lens through which contemporary Americans can view the war that tore the nation apart and offers lessons for a future without such rifts.

The East Coast Greenway--Sweeps the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida, connecting 15 of America's most populous states and virtually every major city on the eastern seaboard. When complete, it will incorporate scores of currently disconnected local trails and traverse a remarkable range of urban, suburban, and rural landscapes, providing recreation, transportation, and history lessons to millions of east-coast Americans.

The Freedom Trail--Connects 15 sites in old Boston that capture America's revolutionary history, including Faneuil Hall, where plans were laid for the famous "tea party," and Old North Church, watched closely one night by Paul Revere as he rowed with muffled oar to the Charlestown shore.

The Great Western Trail--Follows the spine of the Rocky Mountains and stretches across America on a north/ south axis from the Canadian to the Mexican border. It traverses lands managed by the federal government, five states, and the Navajo Indian Nation. Its unique design of parallel routes, accommodating trail users with different abilities, gives a wide range of Americans access to the beauty of the West.

Hatfield-McCoy TrailSystem--Uses an entirely new approach to trail building by forging a partnership between government agencies and the corporate owners of the coal fields in southwest West Virginia and surrounding states. Old railbeds, abandoned logging roads, and other unused routes that once transported the region's resources to industrial America will be recycled as a 2,000-mile trail system accommodating all-terrain vehicle riders, equestrians, mountain bikers, and hikers.

Iditarod National Historic Trail--Surveyed in 1908 by the U.S. Government, the Iditarod is America's only remaining frontier trail. Its 938 miles connect remote settlements, marking the path of the 1899 gold rush to Anvil Creek and the 1925 dogsled mission-of-mercy that brought lifesaving serum to diphtheria-ridden Nome, Alaska. Winter travelers move along the trail on sleds, snowshoes, snowmobiles, and cross-country skis. Warm-weather visitors and natives explore the trail via similar modes of conveyance, using watercraft where the trailway has melted.

The International Express--The Number Seven Train through Queens, New York, connects a series of immigrant neighborhoods and serves as a metaphor for the migration of people from all over the world to America. Pakistani, Irish, Romanian, African American, Italian, Korean, Hispanic, Indian, Argentinean, and other ethnic neighborhoods are available for exploration and cultural discovery on this route from Sunnyside to Flushing.

The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail--Stretches 1,200 miles from the Mexican border to San Francisco, marking the route of exploration and settlement taken by the Spanish as they claimed the Pacific coast.

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail--Commemorates the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-06), which covered 3,700 miles of American frontier from St. Louis, Missouri, to the mouth of the Columbia River in present-day Oregon. It opened the remainder of the continent to EuroAmerican settlement.

The Mississippi River Trail--Will follow the nation's largest river from Minneapolis to New Orleans when complete. Envisioned as a bicycling route that will touch upon the cultural, historic, and natural richness of the Mississippi River Valley, this trail will allow Americans to experience first-hand what Mark Twain described as the "body of the nation."

The North Country National Scenic Trail-Traces a narrow route through the unique topography of the northern rim states, connecting over 160 state parks, forests, and wildlife areas from New York to North Dakota. This footpath will provide hiking opportunities through seven states, eventually covering 4,600 miles.

The Underground Railroad--Follows multiple secret routes that originated in the South, intertwined throughout the North, and eventually led to Canada, the western territories, Mexico, the Caribbean, and freedom for those people held in bondage below the Mason-Dixon line.

The Unicoi Turnpike--Dating from the first millennium, this 68-mile trail carried the Cherokee people from the flatlands east of the Great Smoky Mountains to the hills of east Tennessee. It provided similar passage for European settlers in colonial and post-revolutionary times. In our day, the Unicoi leads hikers into remote trailside communities that still reflect Cherokee and Appalachian cultures.

Millennium Legacy Trails

Millennium Legacy Trails represent the spirit of individual states and regions and include many different kinds of pathways: rail-trails, greenways, historic and cultural trails, recreation paths, waterways, and alternative transportation corridors. The 50 Millennium Legacy Trails were formally announced in a ceremony at the White House on October 21, 1999. Nominations had been received from the governors of 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Community Millennium Trails

Community Millennium Trails will include thousands of trails across the country that commemorate and interpret the communities they serve. Many trails in this category were made part of a grand Millennium Trails celebration on June 3, 2000, in conjunction with the annual National Trails Day events organized by the American Hiking Society.

Partners

To maximize the benefits of the initiative and to offer the best possible support to those trails receiving the Millennium Trails designation, an impressive group of corporate partners and other supporters has contributed to the program. The two largest grants, from the American Express Company and the National Endowment for the Arts, are discussed in detail below, along with the role of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

U.S. Department of Transportation. Since the passage of the landmark Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and its successor legislation, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, transportation funds have become the largest source of public-sector money for trails. Building on this momentum in trail construction, the U.S. Department of Transportation became the White House's primary partner in the Millennium Trails initiative. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater committed over $5 million dollars for the program, including $1 million for program management and more than $4 million in funding for trail projects. These funds and other contributions were used to assemble the project's management team. Major support contracts were established with the leaders of America's trails movement, with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy as the lead nonprofit partner among a consortium that includes the American Hiking Society, American Trails, and the National Recreation and Parks Association .

American Express company. The American Express Company has been designated the Lead Corporate Partner of the program. The company has a distinguished record of support for the trails and greenways movement in America, and this new partnership expands on that commitment. American Express contributed $500,000 in grants to the National Millennium Trails and selected Millennium Legacy Trails. These grants will help the managers of these trails in their efforts to preserve and expand their trail systems. Additional funds from this sponsorship have enhanced elements of the program itself, including the Millennium Trails web site.

National Endowment for the Arts. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has entered a cooperative agreement with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) to fund the creation of community-centered arts projects as essential components of the Millennium Legacy Trails. In recognition of the unique ability of trails to help us interpret our history and culture, the NEA, through the NASAA, will make $10,000 grants available to all 50 Legacy Trails, enabling the trail managers to undertake any of a broad range of projects that will tell the stories of the trails and of the people who use them. In addition, the NASAA is conducting a national campaign to raise matching funds for this Art on Millennium Trails program.

In his remarks at the White House announcing this contribution, NEA Chairman Bill Ivey stated, "The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to provide opportunities for artists to work with recreation and environmental groups, trail managers, and public officials in creating high-quality art on the designated Legacy Trails for the next millennium. These works will enhance America's communities and strengthen each state's cultural heritage." These projects--which may include functional and purely aesthetic works of art, interpretive cultural material, landscape art, distinctive trail markers, and the appropriate restoration of historic structures--have the potential to transform our national landscape. They will enable everyone to experience these trails, not only as a form of recreation, but also as a journey of discovery.

Other Partners. Other organizations, such as the American Association for Leisure and Recreation (AALR), are playing key roles in creating Millennium Trails and ensuring that this initiative continues into the future. The executive director of AALR has developed a book about the Millennium Trails, to be published by Sagamore Press. A portion of the proceeds from this book will go towards creating a long-term partnership between AALR and the American Hiking Society to cooperatively promote National Family Recreation Day and National Trails Day each year.

Additional help came from World T.E.A.M. Sports, which partnered with the Millennium Trails program to produce a coast-to-coast ride for disabled athletes, who traveled across America by trail to celebrate National Trails Day 2000 in St. Louis. Altrec.com, an internet company specializing in Outdoor recreation, is providing high-tech images for each of the 16 National Millennium Trails to enable viewers to see the incredible scope of these projects. National Geographic and National Public Radio are working with Altrec.com on this effort. The National Park Service has re-established the National Recreation Trails designation program in order to continue the momentum created by the Community Millennium Trails initiative.

Next Steps

Imagine a national network of trails connecting every community from coast to coast. While many people might think that such a goal is impossible, a successful model already exists. In England, an organization called Sustrans (Sustainable Transportation) began developing a national system of trails in the late 1980s. Their goal was to build a 5,000-mile National Cycle Network, with each mile-marker designed as a work of art honoring the past, present, and future of the communities along the trail. At the same time, England created a National Millennium Lottery that funded major national projects such as the Millennium Dome. Sustrans received more than [pound]43.5 million (or approximately $63 million) from this lottery, and the National Cycle Network opened in 2000 as a result.

This project proves that national-scale projects are possible, and that the Millennium Trails effort is on the right path. While many of the National Millennium Trails (such as the 6,400-mile American Discovery Trail) will rival the size of the Sustrans project by themselves, there is hope that a fully connected national system of trails can be achieved. (For more information on the trails movement, see figure 1.)

Trails improve all aspects of our lives: environment, health, fitness, mobility, safety, economy, education, tourism, culture, and so on. Thus it is appropriate to celebrate the success of the Millennium Trails program, from its initiation in 1998 to the great events and projects that have occurred since then. Every person and organization now has the opportunity to become part of the trails movement.

Jeff Olson is the director of Millennium Trails.