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February 15, 2001
WVDOH Lets Two Projects in Newest
'Rails to Trails' Effort

Charleston, W. Va. - According to the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH), the Western Maryland Railway bed through eastern West Virginia will soon be back in business. But, this time it won't be carrying train cars. It will be serving hikers and cyclists from all parts of the state and across the eastern United States.

In conjunction with their "Rails to Trails" initiative and the construction of Corridor H, the WVDOH announced the letting of two projects that will begin the process of transforming the existing railroad bed into a mountain biking path complete with parking areas, restroom facilities and walking trails. Together, the projects will extend about 20 miles and create almost a 1.5 million-dollar investment in the state.

Representatives from the WVDOH explained that millions of tourists come to West Virginia each year to visit state parks, see historic sites and take advantage of the various outdoor activities that West Virginia has to offer. This generates over four billion dollars in sales and employs thousands of residents. Fifteen percent of tourists visit West Virginia specifically to hike or ride on many of the state's scenic bike paths.

The "Rails to Trails" program provides cyclists of all degrees with countless options for riding in the Mountain State, helping to give West Virginia an advantage over other states for tourist vacation destinations.

"
In addition to the safe and reliable highways that the WVDOH provides, we create bike paths, like the Western Maryland Railway Trail, for the benefit of residents and tourists," said State Highway Engineer Joe Deneault. "Our trails are just one more way that the WVDOH helps to further the tourism industry in West Virginia," he said.

The first sections of the trail to be constructed are from Parsons to Montrose and from Montrose to Elkins. The contracts will be awarded February 20, 2001. For more information on the Western Maryland Railway bike path, visit www.wvcorridorh.com.


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