After connecting the West Virginia Central Railroad and the Elkins Depot with the Tygart Valley River Railroad Bridge, the Randolph County Development Authority (RCDA) sought to make another connection to the Elkins Depot. A new and improved pedestrian and bike trail now connects the Elkins Depot to the Allegheny Highland Trail (AHT), another regional destination and tourist attraction. B&N assisted RCDA with the Elkins Rail-Trail Connector project from the initial design study through construction.
The Elkins Rail-Trail Connector provides a safe, alternative route between the Elkins Depot and the trail head of the AHT, which is only a short mile away. Since the connection of the Depot to the railroad system, Elkins has become an increasing hub for tourism with the Depot serving as the welcome center, railroad museum, and boarding location for excursion trains on the West Virginia Central Railroad. The new trail connector gives tourists better access to the scenic 24.2 mile shared-use trail that follows the original route of the West Virginia Central and Pittsburg Railway.
The connection also addresses transportation and safety issues associated with a portion of the original trail. Previously, the existing path required users to traverse a very steep, narrow, and poorly defined trail. Additionally, the trail utilized the shoulder of US Route 219 for a distance until crossing the highway at a signalized intersection—with both roadways having an average daily traffic count of over 11,000 vehicles each per day.
The new rail-trail connector includes improvements to the existing trail as well as a new eight-foot-wide connecting trail that features sidewalks, retaining walls, barriers, and a 120 ft. overpass bridge that crosses US Route 219.