Since its formal dedication on May 23, 2000, the Greene River Trail has hosted many over its 19 years of existence.
The hiking and biking trail skirts the Monogahela River beginning at the Greene Cove Yacht Club near Millsboro and extends three miles south to Rices Landing, which serves as the second trail head. In recent years, another 2.1 mile extension was added going south to the town of Crucible giving the trail a total length of just over five miles.
According to a June 21 press release, Greene County Commissioners approved a company’s $776,469 bid for another 2.2-mile extension south. Macking Engineering received and reviewed the bids, and Costabile Construction, Inc. of Uniontown submitted the chosen bid.
According to the press release, commissioners also approved a $45,360 contract with Macking Engineering for construction management and inspection services for the Greene River Trail extension.
Commissioner Blair Zimmerman said the extension’s completion date is weather dependent. Once construction begins on the extension it is anticipated to be completed within 90 days.
“Right now we’re hoping to have the extension finished in six months to a year,” he said.
Besides serving as a recreational resource for area residents and out-of-county visitors alike, the trail has helped promote tourism. But how much of an impact has it made on the county’s economy?
“The trail is both beautiful and a recreational and economic resource,” Zimmerman said. “But it’s hard to put a number on just how much it impacts the county’s economy.”
A former cross country and track and field coach at Waynesburg University, Zimmerman said he personally uses the trail and on any given day sees a lot of people using the trail, including a couple from Pittsburgh he once met.
“People who use the trail sometimes stop to purchase gas for their automobiles and water and snacks,” he said. “Some purchase clothing or walking and running shoes; others buy bikes or have them repaired. They can also have dinner at the restaurant at Greene Cove.”
Situated at the northern trail head, the Greene Cove Yacht Club has seen an increase of business in its restaurant, according co-owner Ed Schultz.
“Since the trail first opened, we’ve gotten about two to three people who use the trail drop in each week for a drink or dinner,” he said. “Over the years, our trail customer rate has remained fairly steady.”
Zimmerman said the running teams at Waynesburg University and California University of Pennsylvania sometimes use the trail for training.The trail has also been used for 5-Ks and other races.
“Much like Ohiopyle, the trail impacts not only the county but the region as well,” he said.
Another way the Greene River Trail has made a positive impact is by increasing the number of visitors to the W. A Young and Sons Foundry and Machine Shop in Rice Landing. George (Bly) Blystone, who oversees the site owned by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, said several people on bikes have stopped for a tour of the historic building in the past three weeks alone.
“I’d say that every three out of four weeks we have people come in off the trail for a tour during the Sunday afternoons when we’re open,” he said. “The trail is about 50-feet from the foundry, and, to make it more accessible, there’s been a discussion between Greene County Tourism and Rivers of Steel to put in steps between the trail and the foundry.”
Jake Blaker, director of the Greene County Department of Recreation, said the department conducted a user survey six years ago and determined that between 120 and 140 people walked, hiked, jogged or biked the trail on an average summer day.
Rices Landing borough secretary Lori Durr said she sees people biking and walking the trail, including members of her family, but that the borough doesn’t count the number of people using it. She also said, because the town doesn’t have any stores or businesses that cater to trail traffic, she doesn’t think it makes much of an economic impact on the Rices Landing economy.
“We are excited to see the trail extension project moving forward with these actions approved today,” Commissioner Dave Coder said in the press release. “This 2.2-mile extension is only going to make the Greene River Tail – which is already an essential part of Greene County recreation – even better.”