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Trail between St. Vincent College, Latrobe a step closer to reality

| Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 6:45 p.m.
Jarod Trunzo, executive director of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program and a member of the newly formed Latrobe-St. Vincent Trail Council, walks the trail after a groundbreaking for the first phase of the Latrobe-St. Vincent Trail. Officials have been working for seven years on this project, which would construct a 1.9-mile trail from St. Vincent College to downtown Latrobe. This first phase is planned to clear the first 1,000 feet of trail in a 12-foot-wide swath.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Jarod Trunzo, executive director of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program and a member of the newly formed Latrobe-St. Vincent Trail Council, walks the trail after a groundbreaking for the first phase of the Latrobe-St. Vincent Trail. Officials have been working for seven years on this project, which would construct a 1.9-mile trail from St. Vincent College to downtown Latrobe. This first phase is planned to clear the first 1,000 feet of trail in a 12-foot-wide swath.

A 1,000-foot path through the trees on Devereaux Drive in Unity was taken as the first step last week toward a 1.9-mile trail between the city of Latrobe and St. Vincent College.

Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the reformed Latrobe-St. Vincent Trail Council, said the group reorganized in the fall and are now an affiliate chapter of the Regional Trail Corporation.

“We just got past the idea stage and moved into the reality stage,” she said.

Officials from the council broke ground on the trail last Wednesday after signing an easement with Wimmer Corp. to build the first section of the trail on 1,100 feet of the abandoned Unity branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The trail has been in the works for seven years.

It will measure 12 feet across in order to accommodate the traffic expected to use it for walking, running and biking.

“Since it's short, we're splurging on the width,” Boxx said.

A feasibility study completed in 2012 estimated that 100 people per day would use the trail based on one trip for every 33 residents in Unity and Latrobe, with the peak months of use from April to August.

Boxx said she expects many more users than that, and also a much lower cost than the $609,000 that the study estimated for its construction.

“We're going to get donated services and do things completely different than in that study,” she said.

Robindale Energy Services of Latrobe is donating its equipment and labor to clear the first part of the trail, where the only cost will be about $5,000 to $10,000 for the crushed limestone to create the trail bed, Boxx said.

Eventually, a parking area on Devereaux Drive will also be developed, she said.

“It's going to provide a really nice physical connection between St. Vincent College and downtown Latrobe and the new community college building and St. Vincent” where one day students might be able to hop on their bikes and grab a Jioio's pizza to take back to campus, Boxx said.

The trail council is also working with Latrobe Community Revitalization Program to fund and construct the trail.

Executive director Jarod Trunzo said the council, with about 12 members including representatives from Latrobe city council and St. Vincent College, has worked well with Boxx's leadership.

“I think the vision is starting to get clearer about the end result,” Trunzo said. “We have challenges ahead, but what a start.”

One costly hurdle will be the need for a bridge over Monastery Run, but different funding sources are in the works, Boxx said.

Boxx has experience with trail development as board president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, responsible for building the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile rails-to-trails system connecting Pittsburgh with Cumberland, Md., completed in 2013 after 35 years.

Connections could later be made to Legion-Keener Park or the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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