posted February 15, 2018
Pitt-Johnstown received a $500,000 grant from the Department of Transportation to begin a sidewalk and bike path construction project connecting the campus and education corridor to the nearby 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.
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 region’s trail infrastructure. It is also envisioned that Borrow-A-Bike Stations will be available to encourage participation and sustainability.
The paved 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.
“The project aligns with the ideas and goals laid out in Vision 2025, to better our community through life sustaining landscapes,” said Pitt-Johnstown President Jem 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.”
"The Cambria Regional Chamber has identified a total of 323 miles of trails in our region, and we see this effort by Pitt-Johnstown not only to connect communities to one another, but to our region's outdoor amenities as well. This is the type of effort the Vision2025 framework supports and we salute Pitt-Johnstown for its leadership," said Mike Kane, president of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and a member of the Vision2025 steering committee.
“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.
“This is exciting news to start 2018 with the announcement of the REACHland Connect grant. I remember having a discussion with Dr. Spectar three years ago about this project and it seemed beyond our reach, said Commissioner Tom Chernisky. “But when we work together – the university, community and government – we can achieve anything.”
President Spectar added he is 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.”
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.