By Konstantine Fekos
New signs along Titusville’s Queen City Trail are more than just a nice addition, according to city officials who gathered for an unveiling ceremony at Titusville Middle School Wednesday afternoon.
Marilyn Black, vice president of the Oil Region Alliance, emceed the ceremony, which included the sign unveiling and a trail walk led by Titusville Middle School students.
The approximate 12-inch green, white and blue signs, installed in mid-September, depict the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail logo.
“It’s great to be a connector between Erie and Pittsburgh,” said Emily Altomare, executive director of the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’re fortunate to have that resource here in our backyard.”
While the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail is still incomplete, pending the approval of funding and easements for several gaps between connecting cities, Altomare hopes it will encourage frequent visitation to Titusville and drive the local economy.
“It won’t happen overnight,” said Titusville City Manager Larry Manross, regarding the completion of a trail that connects the two biggest cities in western Pennsylvania. “Right of ways and funding must be secured, but this is pretty nice stuff.”
Areas of the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail awaiting completion include segments between Corry and Spartansburg; Spartansburg and Titusville; Emlenton and Foxburg; and Kittanning and Millvale.
In addition to offering a transportation route, the current Queen City Trail also serves as a recreation and fitness tool for local residents and visitors, according to Debra Frawley, greenways coordinator for the Council on Greenways and Trails.
“The trail’s been significant to our district and to our physical education program in particular,” said Karen Jez, Titusville Area School District superintendent. “We’re big supporters of continuing to develop the trail.”
The Queen City Trail, which runs three miles from South Martin Street to the Jersey Bridge lot, was also the first trail segment to receive the new standard signs, according to Marilyn Black, vice president of the Oil Region Alliance.
Department of Conservation and natural Resources (DCNR) funding for the 20 signs came primarily from a small grant awarded by the Rails to Trails Conservancy, she said.
The Oil Regional Alliance matched the grant with federal funding, which also paid for a set of signs to be installed in Venango County.
The alliance is one of 13 member entities which comprise the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail Alliance and is a founding member of the organization, according to Black.
While the Erie to Pittsburgh has no estimated completion date or final cost yet, Black believes the final product may stretch more than 170 miles long.
The DCNR has identified the connecting Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail as a top spending priority, Black said, since the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage, a Pittsburgh-to-Washington D.C. bike trail, this past June.
“We encourage all members and adjacent agencies to move at whatever pace they can,” Black said. “My personal prediction is (closure) of tiny gaps from Titusville to Emlenton by 2018 and (completion of) the total Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail by 2020.”
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.