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Three Rivers Heritage Trail has $8.3 million annual economic impact
According to a report issued jointly in April by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Friends of the Riverfront, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail contributes more than $8 million annually to the local economy.

The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is a multi-use riverfront trail system in the Pittsburgh region. The 24-mile nonlinear trail has segments on both banks of Pittsburgh’s three rivers with access to city neighborhoods, business districts, and local attractions.

“The study the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy conducted along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail during last summer really quantified what a tremendous community asset the trail is. From an economic impact standpoint we estimated trail related spending of more than $8 million. As RTC as seen in all of the communities where we have conducted this type of study, trails really become an economic engine that supports local business on or near the trail,” said Carl Knoch, manager of trail development in the RTC northeast regional office and project manager on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail user survey and economic impact analysis.

Five hundred twenty five survey respondents gave good or excellent ratings to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail for cleanliness, safety and maintenance.

“People enjoy the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in many ways,” said Tom Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront, the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit responsible for building and maintaining the riverfront trails since 1991. “In addition to biking, walking, running or rollerblading, almost 2/3 of trail users engage in bird watching, studying wildflowers and observing the wildlife during their visits. This is possible because of the improved ecological environment along the banks of our three rivers.”

“This study shows that trails have an important economic impact in nearby communities, and are a great source of recreation that is close to home for many visitors,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “It’s a great confirmation that our investments in trail projects pay off in so many ways.”

According to survey responses, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is predominantly used for recreation, health and exercise, and fitness training. Other uses include personal business such as shopping or visiting friend and commuting to work.

The age profile of users of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is similar to what RTC has seen in its other trail surveys, with the majority of users over the age of 46. However, the percentage of trail user respondent between the ages of 26 and 35 is the highest RTC has every recorded in the eight years it has been conducting trail user surveys.

The total estimated annual visits to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is 822,873.

Data was collected between June and October 2014 and extrapolated to a 12-month estimate using the RTC “User Visitation Model,” which has been used in more than a dozen other user surveys conducted by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Passive infrared counters were placed at seven locations along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

The estimated annual economic impact of $8,286,026 was determined from survey responses about occasions and costs of purchases from three categories: durable goods (estimated at $1.8 million annually), consumable goods (estimated at $5.9 million annually) and accommodations (estimated at $577,078). Durable goods include bikes, bike supplies, clothing and footwear, while consumable goods include snacks, beverages, and meals.

For more information on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, visit here.


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April 22, 2015

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