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Trail's last link opens to connect to Great Allegheny Passage in Pittsburgh

| Saturday, June 15, 2013, 9:19 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
People photograph the new Great Allegheny Passage marker near the fountain at Point State Park, Downtown, on Saturday, June 15, 2013.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Steve Hall, of Cumberland, Md., snaps a photograph of the Great Allegheny Passage marker near the fountain at Point State Park, Saturday, June 15, 2013. Hall, who owns a bed and breakfast near the trail in Cumberland, Md., came to Pittsburgh for the event.

Pennsylvania has earmarked $2 million to construct a path along the Mon Wharf that will establish a traffic-free link between Smithfield Street and Point State Park for the Great Allegheny Passage, officials said on Saturday.

Matt Greene, manager of Point State Park, made the announcement during a ceremony Saturday to dedicate the final link of the 150-mile trail, which stretches from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md.

He called the expenditure an “investment.” Officials are hopeful the final link of the trail will spur tourism and business opportunities.

About 1,000 bikers rode the final 6.5-mile link Saturday from Homestead to Point State Park for a ceremony to mark the official opening.

Paul Wiegman spent the past three days biking to Pittsburgh from northern Maryland along the passage.

“It's was a wonderful trip filled with breathtaking scenery that takes you over railroad bridges above the water and through old rail tunnels, everyone should do it,” said Wiegman, 70, of Confluence in Somerset County.

Once in Cumberland, users of the passage can pick up the C&O Canal Towpath that goes to Washington to start a 334.5-mile route between Pittsburgh and Washington.

Trail use during the past 25 years has grown to about 800,000 people annually, according to Linda McKenna Boxx, executive director of the Allegheny Trail Alliance.

Ken Medved, 57, of McKeesport, who has been using parts of the trail since 1990 urged people to “get out and experience it.”

“You don't have to be in shape — you can ride anywhere at any time and feel safe,” he said, noting that the trail does not have any steep hills. “It's a fantastic way to enjoy the beautiful scenery and a little bit of history.”

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987.

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