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Western Marland Rail Trail Extension through the Paw Paw bends receives $998,000 Grant!

Paw Paw Bends Project Takes Big Step Forward WASHINGTON, D.C.... Local officials hope to turn the abandoned Western Maryland Railway into new tourist opportunities in Morgan County, W.Va., and funding that U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., has shepherded through a key Senate committee will help to turn that dream into reality.

The West Virginia lawmaker has won approval of $1 million from the Senate Appropriations Committee to convert the old railway through the Paw Paw Bends into a hiking and biking trail.

"Paw Paw residents are searching for new uses for the abandoned railway, and utilizing its potential to attract tourists to the area is a smart approach. Tourism is a major part of the West Virginia economy, and hiking and biking trails bring large numbers of people into the Mountain State. I am proud to partner with the community to move this project from the drawing board to reality," Byrd said.

The National Park Service has worked with the community to study various alternatives for the abandoned railway. A strong consensus emerged to convert the right-of-way, currently owned by the park service, into a trail connecting with the C&O Canal path and the Western Maryland Rail Trail.

Community officials contacted Byrd asking for his help to obtain federal funding for the project. In a letter to Byrd earlier this month, Morgan County Economic Development Authority Executive Director William Clark explained the potential impact of the project on the area.

"The trail would start in Paw Paw, and bring in people of all ages and abilities, from the beginner to the more experienced hikers and bikers," Clark stated. "Combined with other nearby resources such as fishing, boating and camping, Paw Paw could benefit from this extraordinary development opportunity."

Byrd added the $1 million for the effort to the legislation which funds the U.S. Department of Transportation for the coming year.

"This legislation covers the federal costs of airports and highways, of road and bridge construction, and virtually every other mode of transportation that we have in the United States. This is the right place to get the job done for Paw Paw," Byrd said.