The communities of West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle are one
giant step closer to connecting to the thriving trail activity of western
Maryland and Pennsylvania, thanks to a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant.
On Monday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced $80,000 in RTP
funds to support the development of the North Berkeley Rail Trail, utilizing a
disused section of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line. Though still in the early
stages of planning, when complete the trail will run between Berkeley Springs
and the U.S. 522 Potomac River bridge, and connect to the C&O Canal
towpath, the Western Maryland Rail Trail, and the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP),
an internationally renowned rail-trail that attracts many thousands of riders
every year from throughout America and around the world.
This trails tourism traffic is worth an estimated $50
million a year to the communities along the GAP, and in recent years has breathed
new life and commerce into towns and small cities suffering the decline of traditional
primary industries. The North Berkley Rail Trail would allow the businesses and
main streets of northeast West Virginia to connect to this booming market.
The grant to the North Berkley Rail Trail project was one of
22 West Virginian trail projects receiving support this week. Gov. Tomblin
announced $1.2 million in RTP grants to trails throughout the state, including
the Meadow River Rail Trail in Fayette and Greenbrier counties, the Mon River
Rail Trail system in Monongalia and Preston counties, and the Potts Valley Rail
Trail (above) in Monroe County.
Way to go, Mountaineers.
Photo courtesy www.TrailLink.com
Yay! Hope this spreads.
Friends of the Cheat was also awarded Rec Trail funding for the purchase of the Kingwood to Tunnelton rail corridor (about 10 miles)!
So glad Berkeley Springs is getting their rail-trail! And big hurrahs for all the rest!
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