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2017 sees new interest and new promise for the Pike2Bike Trail

There's new energy in the campaign to convert the 8.5 mile stretch of the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike into a multi-use bike trail.  These recent developments has spurned renewed interest in the project with local governments, businesses and the Governor's office in Harrisburg.

In a reply to my recent blog entry on the seemingly stagnant efforts to convert the 8.5 miles of abandoned turnpike to a bike trail, Bedford County Planning Director, Donald Schwartz, shared with me some new and updated information on the status of the plan.  Earlier this year, the engineering firm, Navarro & Wright, was awarded the bid to update the master plan.  Once the work is completed and the plan is revised; the still unresolved issue of ownership of the trail remains.  Schwartz sees that it is still likely that a joint operation between Fulton and Bedford Counties will be overseeing the trail.

The ownership of the trail is key as that will allow the Pike2Bike Trail to go forward in design and overall funding.  There appears to be interest within Governor Wolf's office in Harrisburg as various state agencies including the Department of Transportation and Conservation and Natural Resources toured the trail in 2016.  Representatives of the Governors office are expected to ride along the old turnpike in July 2017.  With the cost of the project at a minimum $3.28 million - as per the 2014 Fourth Economy study - there will need to be revenue streams from the state.

In the meantime, there has been activity to increase the visibility of the project and also keep and maintain the highway.  There is a new website, Pike2Bike.com.  There is also now a facebook page with updates about gatherings, cleanup events and overall progress.  The Pike2Bike group has also partnered with REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) and their Bedford distribution center to do annual cleanups.  The first was held in 2016 and this year's is planned for September 19.  REI's presence in the region may help with the corporate sponsorship and leadership that was not in the area during the early attempts to kickstart the project 15 years ago.

April 2017 Subaru Rally at site of Cove Valley Service Plaza. (Image Courtesy Don Schwartz)

Finally, the Pike2Bike organization is working with various groups to host events on the abandoned turnpike with proceeds from these events to go towards the overall project.  This past weekend (June 25, 2017) a rally of Subaru Enthusiasts took place at the site of the former Cove Valley Travel Plaza.  One was also held earlier this year in April.  Most interestingly, the Pike2Bike team has partnered with Trivium Racing to organize a half and full marathon along the abandoned turnpike on October 29, 2017.  The Apocalypse themed race will require runners to run though the former turnpike's tunnels!

This project has genuine interest and support from various communities and interest groups.  The life breathed into the project by Don Schwartz and the Pike2Bike organization seems to have finally brought interest, visibility, leadership and more importantly momentum to this once stalled project.

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Sources:
  • Schwartz, Donald. "Pike2Bike Comment." Personal E-mail. June 23, 2017.

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