Pitt-Johnstown’s REACHland Connect project was awarded $190,453 to complete the second phase of the Richland Township sidewalk/bike path effort.
On Tuesday, State Sen. Wayne Langerholc announced that the award was part of more than $1.2 million in state grants to help pay for transportation projects in Clearfield and Cambria counties.The funding was approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA).
The project also includes the installation of a new paved access road to a trailhead for 15 miles of hiking trails that exist to the south of the UPJ campus. The total project cost is $522,272.
“The approval by the CFA for this project is a win not only for UPJ but for the community as a whole,” Langerholc said.
“The REACHland Connect project will link the business community with local students and area residents while encouraging recreational opportunities and improving the wellness of the area.”
In 2018, a $500,000 grant from the Department of Transportation initiated the project’s first phase, which will include a sidewalk and bike path connecting the campus and education corridor to the nearby Richland Town Centre is to begin this year. A May 17, 2018, groundbreaking ceremony led by Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar took place at the Richland Town Centre parking lot’s Eisenhower Blvd. entrance.
REACHland Connect will include new sidewalks and bike paths connecting approximately 10,000 people with a major community retail hub in the heart of Richland Township, including the Pitt-Johnstown campus, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, the Richland School District (K-12), Highland Community Library, Richland Township Municipal Building, and Richland Towne Center retail plaza.
Neighbors and residents of the Graystone Court Villas senior living center will enjoy newly installed crosswalks that will provide safe access to an abundance of activities including exercising, shopping, socializing on campus, enjoying art and culture at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, perusing the community library and visiting a local health-care provider.
The new sidewalks and bike paths will be an integral part of a 3.2 mile Wellness Loop, which will intersect with the existing campus hiking and bike trails. The project’s vision is to foster a more mobile and therefore healthier community. REACHland Connect will link the 15-mile campus trail system to the September 11th National Memorial Trail.
Additional envisioned enhancements include a bike-share station, exercise stations, an outdoor amphitheater, and health and education support stations.
“The project aligns with the ideas and goals laid out in Vision 2025, to better our community through life sustaining landscapes,” said Dr. Spectar. “Walk- and bike-friendly communities improve health and the quality of life. REACHland is a cost effective and common sense initiative to enhance population health and improve the overall wellness of our region.”
“By connecting an estimated 8,000 people in new ways to the Richland Town Centre, REACHland Connect will increase the vitality of the Town Centre and stimulate economic activity, with potential for new job creation. The Richland community is uniquely positioned to be the anchoring destination for visitors who want to take advantage of our campus and community bike trails and the many others located within a 40 mile radius, including the Quemahoning, Blue Knob, Yellow Creek and Laurel Mountain, The Great Allegheny Passage, and The Ghost Town Trail,” Spectar added.
The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.