The D & L Trail, a 165-mile rail-trail through eastern
Pennsylvania, generates an annual economic impact of more than $19 million in
the communities it passes through. That is the finding of our recently published D & L Trail user survey and economic
The D & L Trail is the backbone of the Delaware and
Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (DLNHC), a five county region of Pennsylvania
that traverses the historic Delaware and Lehigh Canals that was designated a
National Heritage Area by Congress in 1988. The area is managed by the
nonprofit DLNHC organization, a joint effort of private groups, citizens,
county and municipal governments, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the
This latest survey is the seventh in a series of RTC reports
documenting the economic impact of rail-trails in the Northeast. That work began in 2006 when my colleague here at RTC, Carl Knoch, developed a
methodology for collecting data from trail users and extrapolating a statement
of estimated annual impact.
Since then, RTC has been able to apply the methodology to
individual trails and develop individualized reports for the trail managers in
the area. These reports become very succinct tools for trail
managers, to solicit continued support for the trail from community leadership.
Of course, each trail is unique; some bring in dollars on a daily basis while
others may realize a seasonal impact. Regardless, every trail surveyed can
document a positive economic impact, with trail users spending money in the
communities that they are visiting.
The D & L Trail surveys calculated an estimated 282,796
annual user visits to the trail, resulting in a total economic impact in 2012
of $19,075,921. Of this, $16,358,201 is estimated to have been directly
injected into the local economy. The complete D & L study, which can be
read and downloaded here, also recorded visitation and spending data in the
trail's various regions, and gathered trail user comments on why they were
visiting the trail and aspects for possible improvement.
Just think how much more it would boost the local economy of the section just south of the Delaware/Lehigh River confluence was open. That's a key section not only because it give access from the south to Easton, PA, but because the adjoining River Road is particularly dangerous for cyclists and walkers.
Way to go trail users
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