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Editorial: Bridge adds crucial link for trail system

May. 04, 2013 @ 12:30 AM

Communities across the country are working to improve their bike and walking pathways, providing residents with a convenient way to get the exercise they need.

That is not always easy, because for most of the past century, cities have been shaped and reshaped to accommodate automobiles. Projects such as the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health in the Huntington area require identifying existing pathways and building sections that connect them.

That gives bikers and walkers the opportunity to go for miles without crossing busy streets.

The PATH effort is completing its first phase of construction with a 3.5-mile pathway along the floodwall at 3rd Street West to Vinson Road in Westmoreland, a half-mile wooded trail that connects Harveytown Park to Ritter Park and a 1.25-mile trail that stretches from the Guyandotte boat launch and along Riverside Drive to the Washington Boulevard Bridge in front of Special Metals.

This week, the project received another boost with the donation of an old railroad bridge that spans the Guyandotte River. CSX Transportation also kicked in $25,000 to help pay for the renovation.

The bridge will help connect planned trails in Huntington's Highlawn neighborhood and Guyandotte, and it will give the trail system a popular new feature. Pedestrian bridges, particularly over waterways, have become key attractions for numerous trail systems and parks.

State Sen. Bob Plymale, who is leading the trail development through the Rahall Transportation Institute, notes there may be property available near the bridge to add a park and trail for children from Guyandotte Elementary School.

The PATH project will take time -- the long-range plan envisions a 64-mile trail system. But great progress is being made this year, and the bridge donation is an exciting extra step.

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