Tomorrow, the 185 mile long Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail celebrates its completion between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md. with events in Pittsburgh. Along with the C&O Canal Towpath, GAP provides a 335 mile continuous route between Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh.
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“It took us six years to get the last 9 miles completed. Of the whole 150 miles, that was the hardest part”
It took almost four decades to build what now is known as the Great Allegheny Passage. It is a remarkable 150-mile trail that connects with the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath in Cumberland, Md., and makes possible a bicycling trip between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. The GAP officially opens tomorrow — Saturday, June 15.
Building the GAP seemed like an insurmountable challenge when the project was conceived, from finding the right name for the trail to finding funding to reconstruct the Big Savage Tunnel, the longest tunnel on the trail. Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, a coalition of rail-trail organizations that built and maintains the trail, told the PG’s Larry Walsh, “Getting the [$12.5 million] for the Big Savage Tunnel … was the absolute biggest challenge. It came close to not happening.”
But it did get done, thanks to audacious people such as Linda Boxx and Jack Paulik, who came out of retirement to direct construction through the Steel Valley.
I aspire to someday ride the length of it.
UPDATE JUNE 17, 2013
Two more stories:
Person of Interest: Linda McKenna Boxx of the Allegheny Trail Alliance
Biking Adventures of the Great Allegheny Passage – A blog detailing the weeklong journey from Washington to the Pittsburgh along the C&O and GAP trails.