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Ahead Of The Curve, Tom Murphy a Key Trailblazer in Pennsylvania

At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) 25th Anniversary celebration in October, we honored a group of men and women--the inaugural Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions--who have made a remarkable contribution to the rail-trail movement during the past quarter century. We will be posting a blog story on each of the honorees during the coming weeks. Today we recognize the legacy of Tom Murphy, one of the first mayors in the nation to recognize the economic value of trails to developing cities.

For the last 30 years, Tom Murphy has been a highly active and influential supporter of rail-trails. As an elected official, his promotion of trails and urban green space has transformed the landscape of Pittsburgh and helped make Pennsylvania one of the nation's most trail-friendly states. From 1979 through 1993 Murphy served eight terms in the Pennsylvania State General Assembly House of Representatives. The legislation Murphy authored during this time to encourage industrial land reuse and transform unused railroad rights-of-way into trails and greenspace went a long way toward building a sustainable economy around trails tourism and outdoor recreation.

Murphy led the passage of the Pennsylvania Rail Trail Act in 1989, as well as the state's purchase of what is now the 64-mile Pine Creek Rail-Trail. He went on to serve three terms as mayor of Pittsburgh from 1994 to 2005. During this time, he oversaw the development of more than 20 miles of new riverfront trails and urban green space, and he developed strategic partnerships to transform more than 1,000 acres of blighted, unused industrial properties into new commercial, residential, retail and public uses. Murphy's legacy in Pittsburgh is evident today in the Three Rivers Heritage Trail System, which attracts millions of recreational and commuter users.

"Tom understood what trails and biking could do for the city, at a time when nobody was talking about it," says RTC's Tom Sexton. "Beyond his role in Pittsburgh, Tom was a cheerleader for trails right throughout the southwest part of the state. Now that we have all these great trails, people forget there was a time when people weren't interested in this stuff. But Tom was a visionary; he was out on the stump."

Murphy dedicated the Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion grant awarded in his honor to Friends of the Riverfront, which has worked for 20 years to reclaim Pittsburgh's riverfronts for public access and recreational use.

Photo of Tom Murphy at RTC's 25th Anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C. by Laura Cohen/RTC.


Posted Thu, Jan 19 2012 12:10 PM by Jake Lynch

Comments

Randall Damron wrote re: Ahead Of The Curve, Tom Murphy a Key Trailblazer in Pennsylvania
on Fri, Feb 17 2012 2:39 PM

Thanks Tom for your forsight in leading the development of these trails which and and my others now enjoy.

 

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