Recently, the Board of Commissioners raised another important and relevant objection to our proposal to take ownership of the Black’s Run Bridge. As the Beaver County Times Reported last month, there are “concerns over certain right-of-ways near the bridge.” Although we’re not sure which rights of way the commissioners have in mind, we couldn’t agree more that sorting out these issues is absolutely critical to the kind of project we are proposing.

It’s for precisely this reason that RiverWise and the Ohio River Trail Council have been studying these matters in great detail. We’ve paid for studies, retained consultants, undertaken archival research with PennDOT, conducted legal work, and walked through miles and miles of thorns and downed trees along the proposed route of the trail. Along the way, we have become intimately familiar with each and every parcel implicated in this 15-mile loop of trail.

Here’s a summary of what we have learned. All told, there are approximately 34,170 linear feet (or 6.47 miles) of rights of way that need to be secured in order to make this project a reality. A total of 11,575 linear feet of right away belong to private citizens and have already been secured. Another 22,040 linear feet of right away exists on otherwise unusable property that is currently owned by PennDOT or held by multiple municipalities or authorities. Conversations have been held with most of these partners, and we are very confident that rights away would be granted if the county were on board. That leaves only 555 linear feet of right away (on only one parcel) that are currently uncertain.

So, to respond to the commissioners concern: we’ve done our homework and have carefully accounted for 98.27% of the rights away required to make this project possible. With the leadership of the county in place, the remaining 1.73% of the puzzle will be easily attainable through a number of means. What is required at this point is not more study or analysis. What is required is county leadership on this important project.