It gives me great pleasure to announce that The University of Pittsburgh Johnstown was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to construct a much-needed sidewalk and bike path connecting campus to CPA and the Richland Town Centre.
The project, dubbed REACHland (Recreational, Environmentally-safe, Access way for Community and Healthy-Living) Connect, is a multi-phase initiative to connect, by sidewalks and bike paths, campus and community with culture and commerce.
The first phase of REACHland Connect includes a paved bike path and sidewalk connecting Pitt-Johnstown, Penn Highlands, CPA, Richland School District, Highland Community Library, Richland Township Municipal Building and Richland Town Centre.
The paved and lighted paths will allow residents and visitors alike to walk, run, cycle, and rollerblade or simply stroll and enjoy the education placards along the way. ADA crosswalks and access points will encourage people of all ages, experience and fitness levels to participate.
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 Pass, and The Ghost Town Trail.
It is envisioned, that with additional funding support, subsequent phases will connect Theater Drive businesses and residents, including the Graystone Court Villas, to the campus and Richland Town Centre, extend the trail through the Richland Industrial Park Complex to the Johnstown Galleria and connect to the existing Pitt-Johnstown bike trails to the regions trail infrastructure. It is also envisioned that Borrow-A-Bike Stations will be available to encourage participation and sustainability.
The project aligns with the ideas and goals laid out in Vision 2025 to better our community through life sustaining landscapes. 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.
Three years ago, when Commissioner Tom Chernisky and I discussed this project, it seemed unreachable. Today, I am extremely grateful to those who championed this project, including students and faculty, and appreciative of the collaboration and input we received to move this project forward, including the Board of Advisors, Senator Wayne Langerholc, Representative Bryan Barbin, President Commissioner Tom Chernisky, Bob Heffelfinger and the Richland Township Officials, Richland School District Superintendent Arnold Nadonley, and our community partners.
Jem Spectar, Ph.D.
President, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown