BikePA routes

Two grants, totaling $25,000, along with matching monies from local counties bring $50,000 to Titusville’s efforts to embrace and expand local trail initiatives. A map shows the BikePA program routes across the state, into which local trail leaders hope to connect.

A recently awarded pair of grants will fund the hiring of a firm to determine roadway bike routes that will connect Titusville to a statewide network and an extension of the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail into Hydetown.

The two grants total $25,000, and matching funds have been secured from the four counties through which the roadway bike routes will run — Crawford, Warren, Forest, and Venango.

The BicyclePA program has six routes that cross the state, north to south, east to west, along with a smaller route in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Three routes run north-south, one each in the western, central, and eastern portions of the state. Two routes run east-west, across the north and the south.

The northern east-west route generally follows U.S. Route 6, and was recently completed by Titusville native cyclist Bill Ludwick, which was chronicled in Herald stories on Aug. 31 and Sept. 15, 2016.

The developing Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail is approximately 2/3 completed, with one of five current gaps stretching from Titusville’s Queen City Trail to Spartansburg.

“It’s really a regional effort,” said Merrilynn Marsh, a committee member of Titusville’s Trail Town Action Team. The action team was created as part of the city’s Trail Town Master Plan, which city council adopted in 2013.

Originally, Titusville Redevelopment Authority, where Marsh works, applied for two grants through the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

The grants came in the form of a Northwest Pa. Greenways Block Grant, which is administered by the Northwest Regional Planning Commission.

The studies will further develop a report from a road bicycle specialist, such as mapping for PennDOT and for publicity purposes.

A convention will then be held to determine names for the plan’s various route spurs and loops.

For the BikePA project, considered a “first-of-its-kind” in the region, one of the grants will be used toward a suitability map and plan to connect Titusville to the grander routes through neighboring communities.

The second Greenways Block Grant will be used to complete a feasibility study for expanding the Queen City Trail northwest to Hydetown.

A previous attempt to extend that trail failed in 2013 when the land along the Oil Creek and Titusville rail lines was not secured prior to the expiration of about $700,000 of grant money.

However, the trail town initiative has since seen some positive momentum. In December, when the Titusville Economic Development Corporation received a DCNR grant of $88,500, which will be used to fund the construction of a trail spur, that will bring the trail from its current trail head at South Martin Street to Fleming Park, including the installation of signage, cross walks, and the trail, itself.

The trail is planned to run on along the sides of Martin Street.

Now, with the two recent grants, the Titusville Redevelopment Authority is preparing to send out a request for proposals that will hopefully lead to a contract to conduct the two trail studies.

And, with one initiative looking to hit the roads, with the BikePA program, and the other primarily off roads, with the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail, the city is hoping to attract riders and general trail enthusiasts of all levels — and this could all get under way very soon.

“We’re looking at different audiences,” Marsh told The Herald in a recent phone interview. “Once we get a contractor hired, it’ll go quickly. We’re hoping to start this in the spring.”

Sterling can be reached by email, at jsterling@titusvilleherald.com.

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