Officials from the state departments of Transportation, Conservation and Natural Resources and Community and Economic Development Thursday discussed the state’s transportation and economic development, as well as outdoor recreation, heritage and tourism opportunities at the annual PA Wilds dinner and awards banquet in St. Marys, Elk County.
During the event, PennDOT announced plans that the department will begin in May to review necessary steps to improve bicycle safety, accessibility and connectivity on Route 6 across the state’s northern tier. The route is currently officially designated as PA Bike Route Y.
“This region of Pennsylvania has so much to offer to the public with its scenery and history, and this is a prime opportunity to enhance tourism in the PA Wilds and along the Route 6 corridor,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said of her agency’s announcement. “To make this route a go-to destination for cyclists, we need to ensure that it’s as safe and connected to trails and communities as possible.”
PennDOT will review Route 6’s current condition, bicycle facilities and safety, environmental conditions as well as collect and examine other data. PennDOT will work to identify infrastructure, trail or other connections necessary for a safe and integrated corridor.
The department will conduct extensive outreach with stakeholders and the public, including opportunities for public input through public surveys and online meetings.
DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn noted her agency’s support of the plans as part of the state’s efforts to improve connections among citizens, natural resources and transportation assets.
“The regional PA Wilds Conservation Landscape initiative is all about collaboration. DCNR is thrilled to be working with PennDOT and DCED to bring our collective resources to bear in the Route 6 corridor,” Dunn said. “The PA Wilds region includes four counties along Route 6: Tioga, Potter, McKean and Warren, and DCNR manages several state parks and forest land in this area.”
Dunn noted that one key investment coming online this fall is the new Kinzua Bridge State Park Visitor Center and Park Office which is expected to create new economic opportunities for adjacent communities and the region.
The agency is also beginning some master planning activities at Denton Hill and Cherry Springs State Parks that can tie well into PennDOT’s plans as well as leverage the state’s recent investment at the PA Lumber Museum operated by the PA Historical and Museum Commission.
“Such agency coordination and collaborative strategic planning and investment is a good example of Gov. Wolf’s commitment to a “government that works,” Dunn said.
DCED Secretary Dennis Davin discussed economic investments and activity in the region.
“The Pennsylvania Wilds region is home to unparalleled outdoor adventures and opportunities for all travelers. According to our most recent data travelers spent more than $1.7 billion throughout the region and we are committed to keeping that momentum moving forward,” Davin said. “In 2016 alone DCED has approved more than $6.4 million in funding to support economic development initiatives including a recently approved $124,000 Pennsylvania First grant to support infrastructure improvements in the historic town of Emporium.”
The Pennsylvania Wilds, one of the state’s 11 official tourism regions, covers about a quarter of the Commonwealth and includes the counties of Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Lycoming, Clinton, Cameron, Elk, Forest, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield and the northern part of Centre county.
The region is known for its more than 2 million acres of public land, and also boasts two National Wild & Scenic Rivers, some of the darkest skies in the country and the largest wild elk herd in the Northeast. Visitors spend an estimated $1.7 billion in the region each year, according to the most recent statistics.For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PA Wilds website. Click Here to sign up for regular updates on PA Wilds (left panel of page).