Beaver County Trail Would Help Connect Erie to Nation's Capital

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
1 December 2011
By Karen Kadilak

The Ohio River Trail Council is hosting a public meeting on Monday to discuss a proposed trail through Beaver County that would become a link in a mega system connecting Lake Erie all the way to Washington, D.C.

The trail would go from the north shore of the Ohio at the Monaca-Rochester Bridge to the Ohio state line, connecting with the Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail in Columbiana County, Ohio. A second, so-called south trail, proposed earlier, would go from the bridge to the Montour Trail in Moon.

Using abandoned railroad corridors, trolley lines and canal towpaths, the north and south trails would form a 41-mile path.

"We definitely need a lot of public input," said Doniele Russell, a shared greenways and environmental planner for Beaver County who is organizing the meeting. "We want to know if we are encroaching on someone's garden, or are near a school bus stop or a place where a train goes by at noon.

"Details like those are very important."

The trail -- championed by the nonprofit Ohio River Trail Council -- would be paid for by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Beaver County, the First Energy Foundation and the 12 communities that would benefit from the path, which would be north of the Ohio River.

Beaver, Beaver Falls, Bridgewater, Brighton, Fallston, Industry, Midland, New Brighton, Ohioville, Rochester Borough, Rochester Township and Vanport are studying the feasibility of the north trail.

"We have plans drawn up, but they can be changed by what the public tells us," said Diane Kemp, Midland borough manager, who is administering the program as an Ohio Rivers Trail Council board member.

"All public meetings are important, but when you're discussing trails, they become even more so," Kemp said. "You don't want to build a trail, then be told later that there's a problem with it."

Proponents tout the north and south trails -- which are expected to take years and millions of dollars to complete -- as boons to economic development.

"Trail enthusiasts stop at stores, restaurants and motels," Kemp said. "(Trails) attract young people."

"I think older people are going to like the trails, too," said Mario Leone Jr., the Monaca borough manager and a co-founder of the Ohio River Trail Council. "They're going to find they're good, reliable places to take daily walks."

Thomas Baxter, executive director of the South Side-based Friends of the Riverfront, considers the north and south trails good fits for the proposed expansion of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

Nearly completed, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail extends for 22 miles on both sides of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.

Plans call for the trail to be extended north and west from the banks of the Ohio adjacent to Station Square, where it now ends, to Coraopolis.

"The Ohio River Trail would seem to be a natural progression of that," Baxter said.

Karen Kadilak can be reached at or 412-380-5687.