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Connecting rail trails in Harrison County a tall task

The topic of rail trails was brought up during Thursday's Harrison County Commission meeting.
 
A fund earmarked for rail trails was requested by a citizen in hopes gathering donations from donors in hopes of connecting the North Bend trail to the Mon River Trail.
 
The commission approved a fund be added within the county's Patrons of the Park fund for this purpose. 
 
However, Commissioner Mike Romano said completing this task is a big challenge. 
 
"Our rail to trail system is broken up," he said. "CSX has failed to transfer title to those rails to the county. They've either been transferred to private citizens or they have been retained by CSX, all of which prevents up from expending taxpayer money to complete something that can't be completed."
 
According to traillink.com, the North Bend Trail ends in Wolf Summit and the Mon River Trail begins just beyond Fairmont. In between, there are three trails listed in Harrison County, but not of these connect. If they did, West Virginia would have a rail trail system which went all the way from Ohio to Pennsylvania.
 
Harrison County has attempted to make contact with some of these private owners, but the response is not favorable.
 
"We've addressed that with some of the private entities that obtained some of the rail bed," Romano said. "They have not been interested in conveying any part of that to the county for a multitude of reasons. Some of them are using it, some of them simply don't want the foot traffic going through their property."
 
The idea of a connected system is one the commission is in favor of and has tried to pursue for several years. Romano said he feels CSX made a mistake by not turning over the abandoned rail beds to the county.
 
"The whole idea was to connect these trails not only with contiguous counties, but also with contiguous states so that we could have a trail system that people could use uninterrupted, that it would create destinations such as hotels and other types of establishments along the rail to trail."
 
The county sees missed opportunities for future establishments along a line and for establishments already in place.
 
"Those businesses suffer and won't flourish because we're not able to complete the system", Romano said.