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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Public Workshops on Knox-Kane
Rail Corridor Being Held This Month

The Counties of Clarion, Elk, Forest, and McKean have scheduled a series of public workshops to invite public input and comment on the feasibility of developing the Knox-Kane Rail Corridor into a multi-use trail. This project is a cooperative effort of Clarion, Elk, McKean, and Forest counties.

McKean County, as lead agency, received funding from DCNR, which is being match by cash and in-kind contributions from each of the four counties. The funds will be used develop the Knox Kane Rail Corridor Trail Feasibility Study, which will consider the entire 69.9 mile rail corridor from just north of Knox in Clarion County to the Mt. Jewett Borough in McKean County. The rail owner has taken steps to formally railbank the corridor under the National Trails System Act. Railbanking is a method by which lines proposed for abandonment can be preserved for future rail use through interim conversion to trail use. The purpose of the trail feasibility study is to investigate the development of a regional trail that would connect the four counties. The McKean County Planning Commission in conjunction with the North Central PA Regional Planning and Development Commission will manage the project to meet PA DCNR reporting requirements.

A committee composed of representatives from each county selected Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT) as the consulting firm for the preparation of the feasibility study. The study will consider the benefits and potential negative impacts of a trail system, environmental ncerns, public and private ownership of land, and will include recommendations and construction cost projections for implementation.. It will also identify demand for, and types of, trail uses; ownership scenarios; maintenance and management options. A trail concept plan will be included. A regional Steering Committee, consisting of fifteen members from all four counties, has been formed to guide the planning process. The outcome of the study will outline the corridor’s potential as a multi-use trail, provide a trail plan, and cost estimates for development of the trail system. Public participation is critical to the success of the project, and a public participation process, including public workshops, has been developed to obtain input and comments.

The public workshops have been scheduled for the last week of October. The first will be held on October 26 at Marienville Area Civic Association, MACA Drive, Marienville; the second on October 27 at the Kane Community Center, 46 Fraley Street, Kane; and the third on October 28 at Clarion Holiday Inn, 45 Holiday Inn Rd, Clarion. All meetings will begin with an open house from 6:00 – 6:30 PM, with a presentation at 6:30 followed by open discussion. The public is encouraged to attend any one of the meetings.

It is expected that the study will be completed by June 2011. This is a rare opportunity to preserve the corridor for possible public use and expand the trail system in our north central region. All four boards of County Commissioners strongly support the project, as do the County Planning Commissions, tourist promotion agencies, Local Development Districts (North Central PA Regional Planning and Development Commission and Northwest Commission) and the PA DCNR.

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