BROCKWAY – Brockway finds itself in the unique – and enviable – position of having several trails converge in the community.
Those trails could eventually blend with an ambitious effort to create a 1,400-mile Industrial Heartland Rail-to-Trail that will include Cleveland and Akron, Ohio; Parkersburg and Morgantown, W.Va.; Erie, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pa.; and Chautauqua County, NY.
That prospect will be the topic of a presentation at the annual meeting of Tri-County Rails to Trails by Nick Hoffman, community initiatives coordinator for Varischetti Holdings in Brockway. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 17, at the Chatterbox restaurant off Route 219 south of Brockway.
There are eight major corridors within the IHT: Parkersburg to Pittsburgh, Cleveland to Erie, Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, Erie to Pittsburgh, Ashtabula, Ohio, to Pittsburgh, Cleveland to Pittsburgh and the PA Wilds Connector and PA Wild, Wild West Connector, which includes the Redbank Valley Trail that runs from near Brookville through New Bethlehem and Clarion County and on to the Allegheny River in Armstrong County. Nearly half of the 1,450 miles of shared use trails are complete.
I Heart Trails (www.ihearttrails.org) is a coalition of trail advocates, including government, non-profit and private foundation entities who are working together to position trail development as a regional priority. The goal, according to IHT, “is to connect the entire 1,450-mile network so that local and visiting trail users can bike from trail to trail, city to city and town to town.”
The initiative sprang from a regional visioning project called The Power of 32, which made “completion of a comprehensive regional trail network” as one of its regional goals.
Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) are collaborating to lead and staff the regional trail effort and are supported by an array of groups and organizations, with major funding and support from The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and The George Gund Foundation.
Tri-County Rails-to-Trails is the parent organization of the Little Toby Creek trail, which runs for 18 miles to Ridgway; Five Bridges trail, which, once completed, will open up travel possibilities to Pittsburgh and Washington D.C., and Wolf Run trail, which, when finished, will link to DuBois and beyond.