The New River Gorge Trail Alliance has received a $60,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to study the expansion of a bike trail system across a large part of southern West Virginia.
Trails would be extended into Summers, Webster, Raleigh, Monroe and Kanawha counties should the study find it is feasible to extend beyond the New River Gorge region in Fayette, Nicholas, and Greenbrier counties.
“The vision of the New River Gorge Trail Alliance is to build healthier communities and more robust economies in southern West Virginia — by creating a regional trail network,” said Bill Wells, alliance president.
This grant builds off a previous $140,000 feasibility study and $1.4 million implementation grant from the commission which the non-profit alliance secured in cooperation with the West Virginia Division of Highways and the Region 4 Planning and Development Council.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, R-W.Va., and Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-W.Va., have both expressed their support for the project.
“These are the right investments made for southern West Virginia that will continue to diversify our economy, strengthen our infrastructure, and allow us to think outside the box to ensure a prosperous future for our state,” Miller said.
Manchin noted the ability of such development to help combat narcotic abuse in the region.
"Both ARC and I know the potential that states like ours have — when given the right opportunities," he said.
"These investments will help create the jobs, services and infrastructure needed to attract new industries to our communities, as well as help heal our state from the opioid epidemic and get more West Virginians back to work.”
The alliance was established to promotes the health and well-being of the New River Gorge region by building and maintaining the trail system.
Membership information is available at nrgta.org. To join a volunteer trail construction day, “like” the group at facebook.com/NRGTA for more information.