BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (AP) - A group pushing for completion of a rail trail connecting Pittsburgh to Parkersburg, West Virginia, says the project has the potential to boost tourism by attracting hikers and bikers and the money they spend in local communities.
The Washington, D.C.-based Rails-to-Trails Conservancy released a feasibility study Tuesday. It shows filling gaps in Harrison, Marion and Wood counties in West Virginia would complete the 238-mile trail, referred by proponents as "P2P."
The study was presented to lawmakers, planners and trail advocates in Bridgeport. The conservancy says the goal is to obtain commitments and support, and the study identifies funding sources, partnership opportunities and other steps needed to complete the work.
The conservancy says negotiations by trail groups and municipalities over the past 18 months will fill eight miles in the 22-mile gap.
There's a change in plans for a group hoping to extend the North Bend Rail Trail to Parkersburg's city limits.
CSX railroad has decided not to sell a section it owns between DeBarr Trucking and Corning Park.
The North Bend Rail Trail Foundation hoped to use that property to extend the 71-mile long trail to Parkersburg. It now extends from Harrison County into Wood County.
While that's a setback, there are still plans to extend the trail.
"We just have to roll with the punches, so to speak, and we'll make do," says Mark Abbott of the foundation. "We'll actually have to figure out some ways to connect to the park and ride that's at route 50 and route 47."
CSX still plans to sell another section of former railroad property from Interstate 77 to the DeBarr site.
The foundation is seeking grant money to buy that section of roadway.