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July 14, 2010

Ohio River Trail: Coraopolis - Monaca - Beaver - Midland Bike Trail

But wait: there's more (good news about trails)!

The Ohio River Trail Council is working on a proposal to build a trail from Coraopolis, PA (north end of the Montour Trail) to Beaver, PA, and then to Midland PA on the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, where it ends close to the Columbiana, Ohio trail.

It's a very detailed proposal and the website includes some remarkably thorough documents identifying the history of the proposed route and all the municipalities and connections affected by the Ohio River Trail proposal. Also, there's a pretty informative Wikipedia page.

If When this is accomplished, you'd be able to ride from Midland to Washington DC on uninterrupted trails. Not everybody will do that, of course; it's enough that there will be a safe trail ride from Pittsburgh to Beaver, or from Monaca to Midland. You could certainly see people riding up from Pittsburgh, spending the night in a bed-and-breakfast, eating dinner at a restaurant, and riding back the next day.

(Midland, of course, is just a hop-skip-and-jump from the World's Largest Teapot. Talk about destination tourism!)

On the east side, this Ohio River Trail will connect to the Montour Trail, the Great Allegheny Passage, Cumberland MD and Washington DC. On the west side, the Ohio River Trail will be close to the East Liverpool-Cleveland trail they're building in Ohio, which connects to published trans-America routes. You couldn't build a new highway that would have a similar economic benefit.

The Ohio River Trail connects Beaver County to the existing trail system for Pittsburgh and DC, and will provide a future connection between the Cleveland trail system and Pittsburgh-DC. Who benefits? The benefits will accrue to the towns the trail passes through.

I believe that at the bottom line, in a zero-sum economy, these connected bike trails will do more for the economies of the towns they pass through than casinos will do for the places they're located. There's clean, green, fairly upscale money being generated in towns such as Frostburg, Meyersdale, Rockwood, Confluence, Connellsville, and West Newton. They've had their trails for a few years and are seeing real economic benefits from it. Towns like Coraopolis, Aliquippa, Monaca, Beaver and Midland will enjoy similar growth.


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