Marion County offers more than 18 miles of Rail Trails, including a modest section right through downtown Mannington. But the Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission said an expansion in in the works that could be a game-changer for bikers, runners, and the small towns they're from.
Whether you're a fitness enthusiast or just out for an afternoon stroll, the rail trail in Mannington is a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
"We put in the exercise stations last year. On top of the cardio fitness that the trail brings, we wanted something that brought conditioning, strength training..." said Rana Taylor, executive director of Mannington Main Street.
While the rail trail has come a long way over the years, Taylor said the one-and-a-half mile stretch is still a work in progress.
"We do have residents that use it, but they're not able to go far. It's a very limited stretch," said Taylor.
But that's all about to change.
"We're looking to develop about 18 miles of trails to connect. We're gonna go all the way from Barrackville to Mannington, and that'll get you about five miles or so from the Curtisville Lake," said Tony Michalski of the Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission.
Michalski said MCPARC has acquired the $350,000 in funding to start the project and is waiting for CSX to transfer the property.
"All of the 18 miles of rail trail we have are paved. This trail will start as a packed limestone trail, and eventually, we hope to pave sections of it down through there," said Michalski.
Enjoying Mother Nature on a much greater scale isn't the only benefit to expanding the rail trail. Taylor said her small town and others have much to gain from the increase of foot and bike traffic.
"To be able to connect that to the Curtisville area, which is a beautiful area and campground, I believe it will increase traffic to our downtown because luckily, our rail trail runs right through our downtown area, which is going to increase traffic for our businesses and restaurants, so it's a plus for everybody involved," said Taylor.
MCPARC said it's hoping to start the expansion this fall.
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