Centre County is attempting to connect the communities of Milesburg and Bellefonte with a 2.5-mile multi-use trail. At the Centre County Board of Commissioners meeting on February 7, Mike Bloom from the Centre County Planning Office said that the next step in the project involves selecting an agency to conduct a feasibility study and provide cost estimates for the project.
A $70,500 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and $15,300 in donations from nine local community organizations will allow Centre County to hire a consultant. The county will advertise the contract for a bid, with the approval of the commissioners. According to Bloom, if a consultant is hired by April, the study could begin in May and be completed by January 2018.
“It’s an aggressive timeline, but everything has been coming together well so far,” said Bloom. “I think we’re on a very good pace for this project.”
Bloom said that the consultant will determine the trail’s exact facility type. It will be labelled multi-purpose and non-motorized, but could fall under additional categories like shared-use path or on/off road. The consultant will also establish the preferred alignment of the trail and identify the required permitting, easements, right-of-way acquisitions, and environmental or historic impacts that require further study.
“The consultant will also provide specific and very detailed cost estimates for engineering, acquisition, environmental clearance, permitting, utility relocation, and construction,” said Bloom.
Once the study is prepared, the county can start the process of applying for grant funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Department of Transportation. Construction could potentially begin in 2020.
“We have to thank our partners in this project,” said Bloom. “Without their local matching dollars, this project wouldn’t be possible. Their involvement is pretty much unprecedented in the grant world, especially with how fast they turned this around for us. We’re lucky to have groups and organizations in the community such as this.”
Local partners who contributed matching funds are Bellefonte Borough, Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, ClearWater Conservancy, Centre Foundation, CentreBike, Nittany Mountain Biking Association, State College Cycling, Tussey Mountain Outfitters, and the Michael and Alice Young family.