Fayette County gets $906K to extend trail along Cheat River
Officials in Fayette County Monday broke ground for a 1.7-mile section of the Sheepskin Trail in Point Marion and Springhill Township. They also announced funding has been approved to develop another 2-mile segment extending farther east into the township.
The Point Marion segment is the southernmost section of the bicycle trail and is slated for completion this year, to connect with the 48-mile Mon River Trail System in West Virginia.
Fayette County Commissioner Dave Lohr noted the trail's interstate connection should provide economic as well as recreational benefits for the area. “We're only 9 miles from the economic hub of Morgantown, and more investments will be made to provide services to trail users and visitors alike,” he said.
The county also has secured a $906,360 grant, through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission's Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program, to construct the adjoining
2-mile Nilan Road trail segment.
Running parallel with Nilan Road, that section will follow an abandoned Baltimore & Ohio rail corridor. It will offer trail users scenic views of the Cheat River and a glimpse into history, via remnants of the Cheat River Coke Works that once was a vital part of the local economy.
“It's an amazingly beautiful meander of the river,” said Donna Holdorf of the National Road Heritage Corridor, which is partnering with the county and other entities to develop the trail.
Design and engineering of the Nilan Road project have been funded through a previous $96,000 grant from the SPC. Planners have yet to negotiate some right-of-way agreements and easements for that segment, Holdorf said.
Holdorf is seeking grants from two state funding sources that, together with some money in hand, would provide $840,000 to extend the trail nearly two additional miles east and north and through Springhill.
A 34-mile route has been proposed for the Sheepskin Trail, which would connect the West Virginia biking paths to the Great Allegheny Passage trail, near Dunbar.
South Union Township last year completed a 2.2-mile trail section from Pennsylvania Avenue to Hutchinson Park, incorporating part of a pedestrian bridge that used to cross Interstate 70 in New Stanton.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @jhimler_news.