Region 4 Planning and Development Council has received a $1 million Implementation grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to build a regionally-connected bike trail system in Fayette and Nicholas counties. In addition to ARC’s grant, the West Virginia Department of Transportation – Division of Highways is contributing approximately $300,000, and local volunteer labor is providing an additional $100,000 worth of in-kind contributions for a total of $1.4 million. This grant builds off a $140,000 feasibility study previously received from ARC. Working in partnership with Region 4, the WV Division of Highways, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, and Active Southern West Virginia, project leaders will spend the next two-and-a-half years designing and constructing a regional network of trails in the two counties.
“Our vision is to join together successful existing bike trails, such as the Tri-Rivers Trail, the Meadow River Trail, and the White Oak Trail, into a larger network of trails,” said Bill Wells, president of the New River Gorge Trail Alliance, one of the leading partners in the project. “We are happy that ARC saw the merits in our efforts to bring increased economic development, better health and wellness, and improved recreational opportunities to the region by building a network of trails.”
Besides the Appalachian Regional Commission, Region 4 Planning and Development Council, the WV Division of Highways, and the New River Gorge Trail Alliance, other project partners include Fayette and Nicholas County governments, Active Southern West Virginia, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, West Virginia State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas, the West Virginia State University Extension Service, the City of Oak Hill, Town of Fayetteville, and other various city governments, and many private businesses including ACE Adventure Resort, Adventures on the Gorge, Cantrells Ultimate Rafting, and River Expeditions.
All bike users will find something to enjoy on these new trails, from family-friendly “connector” trails to more technical mountain bike trails in Fayette County’s Wolf Creek Park. In addition to the new trails built under this grant, several other bike trail projects are funded or “in the works” in the region, including two trails in Mount Hope (spearheaded by Active Southern West Virginia), several trails in Oak Hill and the new Needleseye property (led by the City of Oak Hill), trails in the Gaines Estate and Fayetteville High School (led by the Town of Fayetteville), and improvements to the Narrow Gauge Trail in Babcock State Park.
“These are exciting times for trail users in our area,” said Andy Forron, owner of New River Bikes in Fayetteville and board member of the New River Gorge Trail Alliance. “Using this money to connect existing and future trails together will create a 500+ mile network of trails – one of the largest concentration of bike trails on the East Coast. Once this project is complete, I anticipate people will be traveling from all over the country to ride our trails.”
For more information about this grant, “like” the New River Gorge Trail Alliance at www.facebook.com/nrgta.