ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa., June 1, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To celebrate the Montour Trail in Allegheny and Washington counties as the state's 2017 Trail of the Year, Wolf Administration officials today joined members of the Montour Trail Council to cut a ribbon and break ground for new trail segments.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin, council members and partners on the trail in South Park Township to officially open the newly completed Library Viaduct, which crosses over Route 88 and the Port Authority of Allegheny County light rail tracks, and to break ground for a segment that will continue eastward from Pleasant St. to Wood St.
"Trails connect communities and destinations to each other; people to the outdoors and healthy exercise; and attract visitors who spend money," Dunn said. "The Montour Trail is a shining example of all of these connections, with user numbers that surpass 400,000 each year and a path that ties together the Pittsburgh International Airport, the Great Allegheny Passage and numerous communities along the way."
The Trail of the Year designation is coordinated by DCNR's Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee to elevate public awareness of the thousands of miles of trails available for public enjoyment in Pennsylvania.
DCNR has a goal of a trail within 15 minutes of every Pennsylvanian and is working with partners to close a list of the top ten gaps in trail systems throughout the commonwealth.
"To truly accomplish community development on the local level takes the understanding and utilization of assets such as the Montour Trail," Davin said. "Enhancements like these succeed in filling in trail gaps and further the work being done to help make fun and interesting places to live, which is vital to the development of healthy and thriving communities."
Both Dunn and Davin noted the negative impacts to trails and tourism that a House GOP-proposed budget would have, including the potential to eliminate the trails program and related grants, as well as the damaging impacts to the state's economy if tourism marketing continues to remain underfunded.
The 63-mile Montour Trail system occupies the right of way of the former Montour Railroad and Peters Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Coraopolis and Clairton in suburban Pittsburgh, making it one of the nation's longest non-motorized suburban rail-trails.
The Montour Trail Council was created in 1989 to oversee the construction, maintenance, and operation of the Montour Trail.
"DCNR's Trail of the Year award is a great honor," said Montour Trail Council president Ned Williams. "But the praise we treasure the most comes from the host communities that appreciate the Montour Trail's presence, and from the local residents and visiting tourists who demonstrate their enjoyment of the trail by using it."
The all-volunteer organization relies on volunteers, friends groups, community organizations and numerous other partners to keep the trail in excellent condition.
The 98-year-old, 506-foot-long Library Viaduct was part of the Montour Railroad, which primarily transported coal until its abandonment in 1978. The Montour Trail Council combined federal, state, and foundation dollars with its own resources to rehabilitate the viaduct and the trail connection to Pleasant St.
At Pleasant St., the trail is directly adjacent to the Port Authority of Allegheny County's light rail station, allowing commuters to walk or ride a bike on the trail to meet a carpool and enabling trail enthusiasts to reach the trail from Pittsburgh by public transit. The new 0.6-mile segment will eliminate a trail gap that currently requires a detour onto a busy road.
The Montour Trail connects with Pittsburgh International Airport, the Panhandle Trail, and the Great Allegheny Passage that stretches about 336 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.
For more information on the Montour Trail, visit www.montourtrail.org.
For more information about the Trail of the Year designation, visit www.explorePAtrails.com and choose the 2017 Trail of the Year slide. More than 600 trails covering almost 12,000 miles in Pennsylvania are featured on the site.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee is charged with implementing the recommendations of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan to develop a statewide land and water trail network to facilitate recreation, transportation and healthy lifestyles.
MEDIA CONTACT: Terry Brady, 717.772.9101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources