The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has made a welcome announcement that it will invest $2 million to improve the connection between the Great Allegheny Passage and Point State Park in Pittsburgh.
The connector trail will bring the passage to the newly renovated Point State Park along the western side of the Monongahela Wharf Landing. Currently the only access in that area is a four-foot-wide path adjacent to Interstate 376. It requires travel through a service parking lot at Point State Park.
DCNR State Parks Bureau Director Dave Kemmerer said the Great Allegheny Passage is one of the most spectacular rail-trails in the country. He is correct.
People celebrated completion of the Great Allegheny Passage on Saturday at ceremonies held in Pittsburgh. Over the years DCNR has invested almost $10 million in grants to complete the trail.
This was money well spent. The 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage connects with the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath at Cumberland, Maryland to create a 334.5-mile traffic and motorized vehicle-free route between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.
While the majority of trail users will only go on part of the trail, there are some who will travel the entire distance. Those on the trail who are traveling further than in the vicinity of their homes stop in trail towns to buy food and other supplies. Some need overnight lodging. Those visitors benefit businesses in trail towns.
The trail also benefits the trail users, providing them with opportunities for healthy exercise, recreation and a connection with nature. The Great Allegheny Passage is a jewel in the crown of Somerset County.