Trail Towns Flourish in Economically Challenged Southwestern Pennsylvania

by Dawn Bonsell, Pennsylvania Rural Development Public Information Coordinator

The trail affects the local economy in many ways, including an increase in property values, jobs, investment and general consumer spending. According to the Great Allegheny Passage Economic Impact Study, approximately 800,000 trips are taken on the GAP annually, 76 new trail-related businesses have opened and over 93 new jobs were created. In addition to the economic impact, trail towns are vibrant places where people come together. Some travelers pass through on short day trips and others are on multi-day trips, including a bicyclist from Vancouver who shouted, “Hello” to O’Brien as he headed South on the GAP toward Maryland. A cycle shop in Confluence proudly displays the hometowns of cyclists who stop while travelling through the small town. For several years, a U. S. map display worked, but now the shop uses a globe adorned with thumb tacks representing world-wide visitors.

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