Work on Paul Ambrose Trail advances in Huntington - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Work on Paul Ambrose Trail advances in Huntington

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By JAMES E. CASTO

For The State Journal

Huntington City Council recently approved a $2.3 million contract to build five more miles of walking and biking trails in the city, part of the ambitious Paul Ambrose Trail for Public Health, also known as PATH, a sprawling pedestrian and bicycling trail system.

City Council approved the contract last week during its meeting, only hours after a dedication ceremony was held for the recently completed St. Cloud Commons portion of the trail system. Plans call for the new St. Cloud portion ultimately to link with the pathway that's long been a popular spot in Ritter Park on the city's South Side.

The new $2.3 million contract awarded to Famco Inc. of Huntington will go to construct crushed stone paths and trailheads in West Huntington, Guyandotte and Harveytown Park.

The growing trail system is named in honor of Dr. Paul Ambrose, a Huntington native and physician who died Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Ambrose focused his medical career on family health and using preventative medicine to fight obesity. The trail system is being developed as a way to continue his medical legacy and improve the health of Huntington residents.

Plans call for the completed pathway to wind through the city for a total length of 26 miles. The trail system is being built in stages as funding becomes available. Funding for PATH is being provided by local, state and federal grants, private donations and proceeds from public events.

In September, City Council approved a $71,000 design contract for a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge to span Hal Greer Boulevard in front of Cabell Huntington Hospital. The bridge is envisioned as part of the pathway project. Officials say the bridge will help link the trail system to Ritter Park, Cabell Huntington and Spring Hill Cemetery. It's also seen easing a safety problem that exists when people try to cross busy Hal Greer Boulevard at the hospital.

The $2.25 million estimated cost for the bridge is to be paid for with a $1.8 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, or CMAQ, grant and a $450,000 contribution from the Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation. An additional CMAQ grant will cover the costs of the connecting trails. The exact routes of the trails are still to be determined.

The Rahall Transportation Institute Foundation, in association with the city of Huntington and various community agencies, is spearheading construction of PATH to incorporate many of Huntington's amenities and workplaces to allow the residents of Huntington an alternate means of transportation. The project's web page describes it as "vital in Huntington's continued efforts towards the redevelopment and growth of the city, because it will help cut congestion, connect business and communities, and provide healthy recreational opportunities for residents."

After a 1998 feasibility study determined the need for a trail system in Huntington, a community naming effort took place. Retired Marshall University Professor Dr. Raymond Busbee suggested naming the trail after Ambrose.

For information about PATH, call 304-696-7098 or log on to path@njrati.org.