Volunteers clean up abandoned turnpike

Waterfall, Fulton County, Pa. - Many consider it a hidden gem in the region, but it needs a lot of work to keep it safe for visitors. 
"This is tremendous," said Bedford County Planning Commission Director Don Schwartz. "There is a big clean up going on here."
Volunteers from REI and other Bedford County organizations took to the 8 1/2 mile stretch of abandoned turnpike early Thursday morning. 
"The tunnels are not maintained professionally in any way, shape, or form," Schwartz said. "A lot of this property hasn't been touched in almost 50 years so we're really grateful for REI to be out here painting, scooping up concrete, picking up trash and really making it usable for the people who come out here."
"The fellows with the bobcats and the brooms, shovels are doing a great job in the tunnel getting the debris off the road," said Pike2Bike Steering Committee member Mark Felton.
Schwartz said the number of volunteers that showed up was a great surprise. 
"Originally I thought it would be less than ten," he said.  "We weren't prepared for 25 or 30 so it's been a bit of a scramble to organize this over eight and a half miles of property."
The Pike2Bike plan could soon become a reality; the master plan will be done by 2017 and will help determine how much it will cost to update the property, what types of facilities they can add, what future maintenance will cost, and who will own the property. 
"Currently the Southern Conservancy owns it and people are on this pike by trespass at best and so you're here at your own risk," Felton said. "So hopefully organizations can take over that ownership and change that situation to make it better for everybody."
"No one's ever disputed me on this that there's no other similar property like it in the world that can become a recreational trail and it would be a true gem for the south central region," Schwartz said. "It would draw people from hundreds of miles."
It will take a lot of cleaning and continued maintenance to get the Pike2Bike trail fully up and running for public use, but the crew cleaning the tunnel Thursday was already cheering for a job well done.


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