New Castle News

Closer Look

April 23, 2014

Neshannock trail to be integrated regionally

NEW CASTLE — Construction of a downtown section of the Neshannock Creek Trail is expected to commence this summer.

Lawrence County planning director Amy McKinney briefed the county commissioners yesterday on a 1,400-mile trails project initiated by Power of 32. Ultimately the trails will connect Buffalo, N.Y., to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Morgantown, W. Va., and beyond.

The first section of the trail will be built this summer using a $200,000 grant the county received from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation a few years ago.

Power of 32, a 32-county initiative that spans four states, organized a few years ago to outline future community development goals.

The movement identified a trails corridor spanning 52 counties as one of its priorities.

Sections of the trail will connect from Buffalo to Cleveland, Buffalo to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh to Cleveland, and Pittsburgh to Morgantown, explained Doniele Russell, county Greenways and environmental planner.

 The regional trail network is being submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation by a broad coalition of economic development, trail and planning organizations working on an integrated multi-use trail initiative covering counties in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Lawrence County on behalf of the other counties is applying to the U.S. Department of Transportation for $250,000 in federal money to conduct a feasibility study of about 140 miles that are not complete within that scope.

“Lawrence County is the applicant because it is central to all of the connections,” Russell explained.

 She said ultimately everything will connect to the Great Allegheny Passage that goes to Washington D.C. and is already constructed.

Lawrence County is doing a planning project to look at  alternative trails from Pittsburgh to Cleveland, Pittsburgh to Erie or Buffalo, she explained.

The plans will include a trail along Neshannock Creek, which will involve meeting with property owners in Wilmington Township, New Wilmington Borough and Volant, Russell said.

 Commissioners Steve Craig noted that he sits on the advisory board of the Power of 32, and “the project is very much active and alive as a transportation plan.”

McKinney said the Pennsylvania Environmental Council is doing a lot of the planning work.

 The portion of Neshannock Creek trail in the city  involves 0.7 mile and extends from Croton Avenue downtown to the Paper Mill Bridge.

McKinney told the commissioners the stretch is solely within city limits along the Croton Avenue railroad line.

The county will advertise for construction bids in the coming months after PennDOT approvals are in place, Russell said.

The county acquired that section of property from the city of New Castle and from landowner property donations, she said.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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