Richland Township is a hub with restaurants, shopping and colleges, but with no sidewalks, it’s hard to get around.
University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown (UPJ) teamed up with township, county, and state officials to build a new sidewalk and bike path that will connect the Richland community.
The new path is called REACHland Connect. It stands for recreational, environmentally-safe access way for community and healthy-living..
“Tourism is central to our region and this initiative, is a small piece, but part of the broader effort to market the region as a livable, sustainable place where people have recreational opportunities, and where it’s very safe,” said UPJ President Dr. Jem Spectar.
UPJ received a matching Department of Transportation grant for $500,000 to start building the trail.
“You’re making it easier for about 8,000 people to use the services that are local. And that’s just what you do in a college town,” said Bryan Barbin, the state representative for Cambria and Somerset County.
The path will connect UPJ, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, Richland schools, the library, municipal buildings and apartment complexes to the town shopping center.
“From the access, to connections, to environmentally, sustainable, to health, recreation, it’s a wonderful initiative,” Spectar said.
UPJ graduate Jennifer Harold thinks it’s a great idea.
“I used to walk the whole way around to come all the way down to Walmart, so I think it’s awesome that they’re putting a path there for people to walk,” Harold said.
Samantha Custer, a 17-year-old North Star High School junior comes to Richland to shop with her mom frequently.
“I think it’d be a great idea, It’ll probably be a lot safer for people to get across places,” Custer said. “We just really like the community and stuff down here, so we think it’s great.”
Harold said having a paved and lighted path will be a much safer and fun way for people to get around.
“I think that will be really cool, especially with all the traffic and everything. I used to run around and all that. So I think for even running, biking, all that kind of thing there’s not really anywhere to do that around here without traffic. So, it’ll be pretty cool,” Harold said.
Construction on the REACHland Connect path is set to start in September.