Senate support of 9/11 trail could unlock funding for Pennsylvania segment
The U.S. Senate’s official recognition of the September 11th National Memorial Trail on Wednesday’s anniversary of the 2001 terror attack could make it easier to secure money to develop a 12-mile, off-road trail from the Great Allegheny Passage to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, according to trail organizers.
The larger September 11th trail is a 1,300-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian trails connecting the three 9/11 memorial sites in New York City, Arlington, Va., and Shanksville.
It is a patchwork of previously developed trail segments and secondary, less-traveled roads in seven states — West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Maryland and Virginia — and the District of Columbia.
The nonprofit September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance already has secured about $4 million for the proposed 12-mile stretch of off-road trail to the Flight Memorial 93 site, according to alliance President Tom Baxter.
The alliance will need about another $10 million depending on a various factors to complete the throughway, which will offer “a gentle ride along a former railline corridor suitable for people of all ages,” he said.
The Senate’s approval of the resolution, along with the House’s anticipated approval, will illustrate the national significance and support of the trail, making it easier to garner funding, Baxter said.
The Senate resolution passed this week recognized the September 11th trail as an “important trail and greenway all individuals should enjoy in honor of the heroes of September 11th.”
Andy Hamilton, the alliance’s board chairman, said he was excited that the Senate passed the trail resolution on Sept. 11. He credited the leadership of U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, Mark Warner, D-Va., and Bob Casey, D-Scranton.
“The September 11th National Memorial Trail serves as another tribute and remembrance of that fateful day and it’s fitting that the Senate came together to unanimously approve this measure,” Toomey said.
Casey added, “The Senate’s passage of this measure is a fitting way to honor that selfless legacy for years to come.”
There is no trail funding attached to the resolution, and the Senate did not move to include the trail in the National Parks Service.
The House is expected to pass a similar resolution soon, according to trail organizers.
Currently, about half of the trail is off-road. The goal is to raise money to tap millions of dollars in grants in order to build other off-road sections.
For Southwestern Pennsylvania, that means developing a trail to connect the Flight Memorial 93 site to the Great Allegheny Passage, the 150-mile trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md.
The Trail Alliance will be meeting with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in about two weeks to go over project details, Baxter said.
Last weekend, the Trail Alliance sponsored its first 911 Trail Challenge, a 24-mile course for bicyclists that included an eight-mile section at the Flight 93 National Memorial open only to cyclists. About 100 cyclists participated, Baxter said.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .