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HARRISBURG – Efforts to transform a portion of the old Pennsylvania Turnpike will get a boost with a $1 million state grant.

The abandoned section of the turnpike is in Bedford and Fulton Counties. The grant money comes from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).

The grant will go to the Bedford-Fulton Joint Recreation Authority, Rep. Jesse Topper (R-78) and Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) and Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) announced.

“Unofficially, the section of abandoned turnpike has been a bicyclists destination for years,” Topper said. “During that time, efforts have been mounting to officially open the once modern marvel as a bike path.”

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When the trail is complete, this revamped bike path will attract visitors, spurring local tourism.

The 13-mile stretch of the turnpike was abandoned in 1968 when a new bypass was constructed. The turnpike had been open for just 28 years at that point.

The abandoned section includes two tunnels – Rays Hill and Sidling Hill – and a travel plaza.

Jim Edwards, chair of the Bedford-Fulton Joint Recreation Authority, called the grant “ a much-needed start to get this project going and make things happen.”

He said the three legislators met with the Authority in April and were very supportive of the project.

“We really do appreciate it,” he said.

The Project

The project will convert 8.5 miles of the old turnpike between Breezewood, Bedford County, and Taylor Township, Fulton County, into a bike trail.

Plans include a new pedestrian bridge over Route 30 in Breezewood and the restoration of the former Cove Valley Travel Plaza in Fulton County. Both will serve as trailheads.

Included in the plans are restrooms, signage, trail restoration, work on the tunnels and other improvements.

The trail will be a unique Pennsylvania tourism destination, Ward said.

She predicted it will provide substantial economic benefits to both Fulton and Bedford counties, creating jobs, generating tax revenue and increasing visitor spending.

Langerholc said hiking and biking trails have become more popular in the last few years.

“We are fortunate to live in one of the most naturally beautiful areas of Pennsylvania,” he said.

He called support for the bike trail “another example of how we can invest in providing area residents and visitors with a place they can enjoy.”

“Anytime we can repurpose or breathe new life into abandoned infrastructure and make it useful again, it’s a win-win for the community and the taxpayers.”

He said he looks forward to visiting the completed trail.

The grant requires a dollar for dollar match in non-state funding in the project.

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