PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE REVITALIZATION
Mount Union Borough Linear Park Project
Mount Union Borough plans to implement a goal of the Mount Union Borough Development Strategies Plan by developing a linear park along three blocks of the East Broad Top Railroad, as shown in the project location map below, in cooperation with a private, non-profit investing in rail preservation.
The project consists of streetscape improvements in the public right of way, including intersection treatments: curb cuts, crosswalks, sidewalk, curbing, lighting, signage and the related professional services.
The private non-profit, East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Association, which owns the railroad right of way, has constructed a walking path along the railroad tracks to beautify the park and make it safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Mount Union Borough would like to compliment and complete the path by making improvements at each intersection to allow park users to safely utilize all three blocks of the park.
The Park includes three blocks of railroad right-of-way along Pennsylvania Avenue between the cross streets of Jefferson, Division and Franklin Streets. This project area is consistent with the location of the linear park recommended by the Mount Union Borough Development Strategies and Plan adopted in 1989.
This phased project will be the result of public and private initiatives. Mount Union Borough proposes to construct intersection treatments in the public road right of way to merge with the walking paths, benches and plantings proposed to be constructed along the railroad by the land owner, East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Association (EBTRPA). The public and private projects work seamlessly to create a significant portion of the multi-modal Linear Rail Park. Mount Union’s incorporated community action group, Planet Love Joy, is prepared to plant trees and make other beautification improvements along the linear park.
Future phases of this Park will include completion of a walking loop by improving the sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue that parallels the tracks and overlooks the East Broad Top Railroad right of way portion of the Park. The sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue, which is higher than the train tracks, will be ideal for viewing/photographing trains in the setting of Mount Union Borough’s Historic District. Improvements along Pennsylvania Avenue include water and sewer line replacement and repairs to the stone retaining wall.
While trains have not run on these tracks in several decades, the East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Association is currently refurbishing the tracks to accept freight and tourism trains.
The Linear Park was first identified in the Mount Union Borough Development Strategies and Plan of 1989 and the project is consistent with the Huntingdon County Heritage Plan in which there was substantial agreement that the railroad theme is the most important theme to preserve the heritage of Huntingdon County. The Heritage Plan notes that the “East Broad Top Railroad is the most complete example of a regional narrow gauge railroad east of the Mississippi River.” The heritage plan encourages creation of a non-profit EBT Trust to own the railroad and a public-private partnership to finance the acquisition and rehabilitation of the EBT Railroad. Implementing the proposed linear park activity, in cooperation with the East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Association, furthers that goal of a public private partnership to preserve the EBT Railroad. The Linear Park promotes Huntingdon County’s vision for historic preservation precisely by providing a showcase for the railroad in a downtown setting with eateries, shopping, a historical society museum and other amenities that complete the rail and trail experience.
The Linear Park is consistent with Connections in Our Landscape, the Southern Alleghenies Greenways and Open Space Network Plan, which was adopted as an amendment to the County Comprehensive Plan. One of the purposes of the Plan is to expand recreation opportunities, and a major goal of the Plan is to delineate a formal system of land and water trails to link regionally significant recreation assets and heritage sites.
Both day-hikers, enjoying the mountains and streams for the day, and through-hikers, looking for provisions to continue their journey, need a hub. Mount Union is planning for this hub to be the Mount Union Borough Linear Rail Park. The Borough is also a destination on the Path of Progress, a 500-mile National Heritage Tour Route, which winds through the hills and valleys of nine scenic southwestern Pennsylvania counties. The Borough is located in the South Central part of the state on the boundary between Huntingdon and Mifflin Counties, just off of U.S. Route 22.
The Juniata River Trail connects Mount Union Borough to the 8,300 surface acres of Raystown Lake, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility, which attracts 1.5 million visitors per year specifically for outdoor recreation. Mount Union is centrally located for convenient day hiking trips. Nearby communities include Huntingdon and Lewistown Boroughs. Mount Union is one hour South of State College, and one hour east of Altoona, and 1.5 hours west of Harrisburg.