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Grant will allow refurbishing of Youghiogheny River Trail

| Friday, April 27, 2012, 12:35 a.m.

Part of the Youghiogheny River Trail will be upgraded because of a state grant.

A $63,300 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Community Conservation Partnerships Program will help the Regional Trail Corp. pay for an $80,000 project for upkeep along a five-mile section of the trail from the Westmoreland County border to Buena Vista.

Formed in 1991 by residents from Allegheny, Westmoreland and Fayette counties, the Regional Trail Corp. is a nonprofit organization that maintains the 43-mile trail with revenue generated from state and federal funding and volunteer fundraisers.

Office manager Leslie Pierce said the crushed limestone pathway will be resurfaced, widened and moved away from steep areas.

"We're basically going to make it more user-friendly for everybody," Pierce said. "That section were addressing now is the oldest."

Drainage pipes will be installed and maintenance will be performed on the existing system, Pierce said, adding that most of the work will be done by some of the trail corporation's 200 volunteers.

Pierce said upgrades on sections of trail happen about every eight years.

The grant was awarded through the office of state Rep. David Levdansky, D-Forward.

"The Regional Trail Corp. has transformed miles of abandoned railroad tracks into a popular conservation area for recreational activity like walking, fishing and camping," Levdansky said. "This grant will allow them to continue to make improvements that will make the trails more accessible and safer for residents."

The Youghiogheny River Trail was built along the right-of-way of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad between McKeesport and Connellsville.

The area is part of the Great Allegheny Passage that will eventually link from Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh.

It runs beside the west side of the Youghiogheny River and connects many small towns and rural open spaces, and is used for bicycling, walking, hiking, nature study, historic appreciation, cross-country skiing, picnicking, horseback riding and fishing and canoe access.

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