2013-06-06 / Front Page

Public Urged To Attend Pike2Bike Meetings

Public meeting here set for June 12
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

There has been a renewed interest by local officials in recent months for possible improvements of the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike that spans portions of both Fulton and Bedford counties. To help gauge public interest and further spread word on the Pike2Bike effort, the Fulton and Bedford County planning commissions are hosting a pair of meetings locally for concerned residents.

On Thursday, June 6, Bedford County planning director Don Schwartz and Fulton County counterpart Mary K. Seville will be sitting down with area residents, business owners and officials at the Breezewood Firehall to discuss the development of the 8.5 mile section of abandoned roadway along with the Sideling Hill and Ray’s Hill tunnels into an official trail. A follow-up meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 12, in the lower level of the Fulton County Services for Children building at 219 North Second Street, McConnellsburg. Both meetings will get under way at 7 p.m.

In speaking with the “News,” Seville stated the purpose is to not only let the public know about the possibility of developing the old turnpike but to review the master plan completed in 2006 as well as the pending request for proposals (RFP) for a consulting firm to conduct a financial study of the potential economic benefits the trail could have on the two counties.

To help fund this economic study, Seville noted grant money was obtained from the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor in the amount of $4,113 and an additional $2,500 from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. Furthermore, the Fulton and Bedford County boards of commissioners have each pledged $5,000 from their county Marcellus shale funding to aid in offsetting the cost of the study.

Seville indicated the study must be completed in its entirety by March of 2014. While Southern Alleghenies currently holds ownership of the abandoned turnpike, which is frequently used by tourists as well as local residents at their own risk for biking and hiking, Fulton and Bedford counties are considering forming an authority to assume future ownership.

Officials have estimated in the past that a modernized trail for bicyclists, hikers and even horseback riders could attract around 250,000 visitors annually. Hopefully, those officials will revisit that subject through this revitalized interest in the Pike2Bike as well as the previously obtained cost estimates for upgrades that totalled $3 million.

Residents interested in learning more about Pike2Bike but unable to attend these local public meetings can still submit a public comment within the next 60 days. Written comments can be mailed to Fulton County Planning Commission, 219 North Second Street, Suite 103, McConnellsburg, PA 17233.

Electronic copies of the current Pike2Bike Master Plan can be obtained by contacting the Bedford County Planning Commission at dschwartz@bedfordcountypa.org.

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