The Lower Trail - Canoe Creek State Park Extension
Organized by: Benjamin Mazur
The Lower Trail is a rail-trail that runs for 16 miles from Alexandria in Huntingdon County to Flowing Spring in Blair County. The Flowing Spring trail head is adjacent to Canoe Creek State Park, yet is separated by a busy highway (Route 22) that isolates cyclists, hikers, runners and other outdoor enthusiasts from Canoe Creek State Park. Despite their close proximity, there is currently no safe passage between the park and trail. For over a decade, PennDOT has been working on a project that would eliminate four dangerous intersections along US Route 22, all located near Canoe Creek State Park and the Flowing Spring trail head. Of interest to local runners, Rails to Trails of Central PA (the nonprofit owner of the Lower Trail) has worked with our local PennDot office to ensure a safe connection between the park and trail is a part of this project. Currently, the project includes extending the Lower Trail from Flowing Spring trail head, underneath Route 22 through the construction of an underpass, and into Canoe Creek State Park. To fund underpass construction, Rails to Trails of Central PA applied for and was awarded a $585,000 grant from PennDot in fall of 2014. The local PennDOT District 9 office supported the project through $355,000 worth of design services, used as a match to secure the PennDot grant. However, in October 2015, the powers that be with PennDot central office in Harrisburg said they would no longer accept the $355,000 that our local PennDOT office had committed towards the project as a match for the grant. As a result, Rails-to-Trails of Central PA must now secure over $300,000 to have the underpass included in the Canoe Creek Intersection project. For an organization that is volunteer run and has a tiny operating budget this is a daunting challenge. But the long awaited opportunity to connect the trail and park cannot pass us by! You can help! We also want to ask for your help in calling and writing to our elected officials asking for their support in making this connection happen. For this project to move forward Rail-to-Trails of Central PA must secure the matching funds as well as the additional money for the construction before PennDOT completes its bid package for the project in the spring of 2016. The project will not only offer the opportunity to create a safe connection from the Lower Trail and Canoe Creek State Park, but it will also bring more recreational opportunities to eastern Blair and western Huntingdon Counties.