State grants to fund more mountain bike trails for Cacapon, design of future Streetscape work

by Trish Rudder & Kate Shunney

Sidewalk, lighting and drainage improvements in downtown Berkeley Springs will keep rolling into a new phase, as state officials last week awarded more grants for the Streetscapes project.

Governor Jim Justice on October 30 awarded over $2.3 million in Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program (TARTP) grants for seven projects in cities and towns across West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.

Those included a $93,750 grant to the Town of Bath for Streetscape Design 2 Project: Design of ADA compliant sidewalks on the east side of South Washington Street and Wilkes Street.

Pete Brown, who heads up the Town of Bath Streetscape Committee, said in an email that the $93,750 grant is an award  “for the design of curb, sidewalk, lighting, ADA compliance and other improvements in areas of the town that have not previously benefited from the Streetscape Program.”

“These improvements are planned for the upper portion of Wilkes Street from WV Rt. 9 West (Cacapon Rd.) to St. George Street and on the east side of South Washington Street from Fairfax to Market Street,” Brown said.

“This award is a significant milestone for the Streetscape Program.  It launches what we call Phase 5.  Currently, construction is in progress for the Streetscape Phase 4A program within the core areas of the town.  While there are several more construction phases of the Phase 4 program, this award is the first funding for the portions of the Town of Bath not previously covered by the Streetscape Program.

“It represents continued state support for improvements within the town and kicks off the design phase where decisions on specific improvements are made,” Brown said.

A master Streetscapes design plan was drawn up by volunteers in the town more than a decade ago. Funding for phases of the overall project has been consistent from the state as trail money and other financial sources have allowed.

“They end up making our cities and towns a lot more presentable and they make our rail trails more accessible to all West Virginians. But, in addition to all that, they draw tourism. They draw goodness to West Virginia,” Governor Justice said of the projects.

A second Morgan County project received an even larger grant through the Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program.

Cacapon Resort State Park Foundation received $150,000 for the “Cacapon State Park Mountain Bike Uphill Trail to Mountain Top” project.

With those funds, contractors will build approximately five miles of mountain bike trail within Cacapon State Park, to connect to a new set of beginner mountain bike trails recently opened at the park.

Mountain bike trail volunteers have roughed out trails connecting the Overlook Trail at the top of Cacapon Mountain to the existing park trail system. New trails have since been professionally designed and built, creating the first mountain bike trail system at the park.

Trail organizer Mark Hoyle said this newest grant will leverage hundreds of hours of volunteer labor and many other smaller grants to build a complete system of mountain bike trails in the southern portion of the state park.

Gov. Justice said trail and street improvement projects can attract further benefits for communities around the state.

“You don’t ever know what’s going to happen with all that goodness,” Gov. Justice continued. “And the result of that goodness may be that somebody moves; somebody moves a business here or somebody moves themselves here. And the end of the day, it’s all kinds of great stuff.”