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Northern panhandle may soon be a part of 430 miles of bike trail

Organizers in Brooke and Hancock counties are trying to unite the region’s bike trails in one of the biggest outdoor projects of its kind.

When it's completed, it would be the longest interconnected bike trail system in America, connecting paths with Wheeling, Wellsburg, Follansbee, Weirton, along with Pennsylvania and Maryland.

That’s more than 400 miles of trail -- and a great boon for local tourism.

“That on-the-gap section alone from McKeesport to Cumberland, Maryland, over the course of 1 year, the six communities that connected that 131-mile stretch, they brought in $40.2 million, in international bikers, hikers, walkers and runners,” said Doug Wayt of the Brooke Pioneer Trail Committee.

Wayt says imagine if what happened in Pennsylvania and Maryland was replicated for communities in the northern panhandle, connecting the Ohio Valley to the eastern seaboard, national parks and 430 miles of trails. The entire project is filling in the gaps.

“Follansbee is going to be 2 miles -- 2 miles,” said Anthony Tacozza of the Follansbee Trail Committee. “One mile is going to be share the road and 1 mile will be a separate, paved trail.”

Two miles in Follansbee is Phase II of the four-phase project. First up is connecting a 7-mile stretch in Wellsburg. A $50,000 grant has that taken care of, but organizers are hoping businesses and donors will help carry the project through its anticipated completion date of 2021.

The project is not without its literal obstacles.

"Brooke County is the only section where there's no trail,” Tacozza said. “Very unusual thing I keep talking about. It's the only section that isn't on a railbed, so we have to use city streets. "

Donation information can be found at

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