Rail trails could improve economy

PARKERSBURG – With six bike trails complete or in the planning stages, Parkersburg is starting to become more friendly for bicycle riders.

Kim Coram, a Parkersburg city councilwoman and member of the Parkersburg Bicycle Advisory Board, said the goal is to get the bike trails off the roadways.

“In a perfect world and if we had all the money we could buy all the land needed,” she said.

Coram said all the trails are a work in progress and work is being done to build trails that are away from the established vehicular traffic patterns.

“One proposed trail would go to the Pond Run outflow,” she said. “We have a grant to engineer the bridge over that. We have done a lot of work toward that, waiting to hear if we will get to expand the floodwall trail.”

Coram said the city is working on acquiring land for the trail.

“We are working with Pennzoil to acquire five acres along the floodwall,” she said. “They have offered it to the city for a small amount but we need an environmental analysis for the site.”

Coram said the major trails in the city are the cross town trail, the main artery running from Southwood Park to Emerson School and the Little Kanawha Connector Trail from Point Park to Corning Park.

Because the city limits end at Corning Park, Coram said it would be up to Wood County to continue the trail and connect it with the main trail near West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

“This is a significant development for quality of life; it’s for transportation, not just recreation,” she said. “While federal government funding for projects like this have diminished, there are private sources to fund projects.”

Coram recently rode her bicycle on the Great Allegheny Passage near Pittsburgh.

“This trail goes from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md.; it’s a great trail. I’ve never been treated so well on a trail; they treated us like royalty,” she said.

“In 2002 there was $7 million in retail revenue from the 150-mile trail; after 2008 with the Trail Towns project to help develop the trail, more than $40 million in retail revenue was generated.”

Coram said the rail trail could generate revenue for cities and towns of all sizes in the area.