While reflecting on Fayette County’s incredible progress across a variety of industries and projects in 2022, I would be remiss not to mention the tremendous strides made on the Sheepskin Trail.
The board of commissioners recently hosted a ribbon cutting celebrating completion of the latest 1.4-mile portion of the trail connecting Point Marion Borough’s existing trailhead to Springhill Township’s Nilan community. This month, we approved a SMART grant proposal for designing the section that will run through the city of Uniontown.
Several other sections are currently in the works along the 34-mile trail, which follows the former Penn Central and Baltimore & Ohio/CSX rail lines and active Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad. Once completed, cyclists will be able to ride through the heart of picturesque Fayette County, all the way across the West Virginia state line.
As a member of the Regional Trail Corp. in the 1990s, I began to recognize the importance of our trail systems and the significant role they play in tourism, recreation and economic growth. Back then, the Sheepskin Trail was relatively unknown, but its connection to several nationally recognized trail systems has led to its name becoming synonymous with Fayette County.
We started the Sheepskin Trail project in 1996, when the county received a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to conduct a trail feasibility study that would help us identify potential routes. Soon after, we began constructing the trail’s first segment, connecting Connellsville to Dunbar Borough.
By connecting the Great Allegheny Passage to the Mon-River Trail, the Sheepskin will place Fayette at the heart of the Pittsburgh-to-Washington, D.C., Rail-Trail Network. A route that previously served the region’s coal and coke industry will once again bolster the area’s booming tourism, recreation and commercial industries.
I’m lucky to have had a front seat to this project for nearly 24 years and grateful for the continued support from our National Road Heritage Corridor, Friends of the Sheepskin trail, fellow legislators and so many others. The Sheepskin Trail is a prime example of Fayette County at its finest – citizens coming together to connect and move their communities forward. I look forward to our continued progress in 2023.
Fayette County Commissioner
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