By Dale McCutcheon
I am writing this based upon my concern that a very important West Virginia resource is not being given its due recognition by government agencies and requesting that the state place a higher priority upon the welfare and future of this valuable asset. I am speaking of the Greenbrier River Trail and what I perceive as inadequate funding by the state.
Over the last ten years I have been a part of various processes wherein funding and completion of a vast number of improvements and maintenance of the Greenbrier River Trail have been the result of involvement by private entities outside government. Through grants and other funding mechanisms and volunteer activities, there have been many accomplishments that have had a positive effect in enhancing the attractiveness of the trail to users from all over the world.
A West Virginia State Parks and Forests – Economic Significance and Impact
Institute for Service Research fiscal year 2015 economic impact study found the Greenbrier River had 203,058 visitors and an economic impact of $3,139,608. I have no doubt that this impact, perhaps excepting for the effects of covid, have increased incrementally since then.
At present, there are 37 bridges of varying lengths on the trail. These include two longer ones crossing the Greenbrier River, with the majority of the others of varied lengths crossing smaller inlets. These bridges are, generally speaking, in need of surface repairs, with some also in need of inspection to verify the structural integrity of their substructures. This need has been given the highest priority by trail management personnel.
An informal study found that the cost for repairs for the bridges was around $750,000.
Basically, if these bridges are closed due to safety concerns the trail will be closed also, resulting in a major financial loss for the surrounding communities.
In that there appears to be a substantial budgetary excess in the state, there should be available funds to provide for the continuation of the financial benefits of the Greenbrier River Trail. I call upon Governor Justice and the WV Legislature to give this their strongest consideration.
(Dale McCutcheon volunteers much of his time to volunteer work on the Greenbrier River Trail.)