This rail with trail right-of-way along the Allegheny River in Gilpin and Bethel Townships between Schenley and Ford City was “railbanked” and purchased by the Allegheny Valley Land Trust (AVLT), managers of the Armstrong Trail.
For over eight years, the AVLT has been in conversations with The Kiski-Junction Railroad about sale of 9 miles of the right-of-way for both freight and scenic service. This is a laudable economic development goal and proper under the federal Rails to Trails Act.
AVLT is supportive of the reactivation and has been negotiating with the railroad by offering a much reduced sale price to Kiski-Junction for the corridor in exchange for being able to include a trail in the same general area of the corridor.
Unfortunately, Kiski-Junction Railroad has not agreed to the latest offer. The current scenario appears to be that the railroad is willing to pay full price for the land in order to prevent any future trail development on the corridor.
If an amicable agreement cannot be negotiated, there will be a disconnect in the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail. This would be unacceptable for future trail development in Western PA and put at risk a number of investments made to date by the state in existing trails and systems.
When it is complete, the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail will be on par with the Great Allegheny Passage as an economic development and tourism resource and will, in fact, connect to the Passage at Point State Park (www.greatalleghenypassage.org). The Passage is currently estimated to have an annual economic impact of $40 million in direct spending and $7.5 million in local wages impact on local communities (www.trailtowns.org). The economic impact continues to increase as new sections of trail are completed so connection is vital. Simply stated, the trail is an economic force to be reckoned with.
If you feel this is important, contact your legislators and ask them to support the negotiations of the Allegheny Valley Land Trust with Kiski-Junction Railroad to reconsider the offer made by Allegheny Valley Land Trust and find a resolution that benefits both the railroad and the Armstrong Trail.
Link to state legislators:
State Senator Don White
286 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
State Senator Jim Ferlo
Senate Box 203038
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Office of the Twelfth Congressional District of Pennsylvania
2423 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3812
Armstrong County Commissioners:
450 East Market Street, Suite 200
Kittanning, PA 16201
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