How to cite this study
Fourth Economy Consulting. 2014. Economic Impact Analysis of the Proposed Pike2Bike Trail. Prepared for the Bedford County Commissioners and Fulton County Commissioners. Pittsburgh, PA: Fourth Economy Consulting.
This study estimates the economic impact of the proposed 8.5-mile Pike2Bike trail. More than 80% of Fulton and Bedford County residents expressed support for the proposed Pike2Bike trail and 32% of current and potential business owners indicated they may invest in a new business to support the trail if it were developed. Using surveys, IMPLAN, and results from previous trail studies, three development scenarios were devised with estimated initial investment, visitor level, total visitor spending, and total economic impact. Each scenario resulted in a positive impact on the counties’ economies.
This study is relevant to leaders interested in understanding the potential economic impact of trails in their local communities. The study’s methods, such as the survey design, may be useful for those interested in quantifying public perceptions and the economic impact of a potential trail. For example, estimating volunteer interest can help encourage investment and display community support for the trail. However, it’s important to note that the sample in the survey is not a random sample, so responses are not representative of the general population.
This study is located in Pennsylvania in Bedford and Fulton counties.
The proposed 8.5-mile Pike2Bike multi-purpose trail is developed on a segment of the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike in Fulton and Bedford counties.
The purpose of this study was to estimate the economic impacts of the Pike2bike trail. The report was compiled by Fourth Economy Consulting.
- If only access and safety concerns were addressed in developing the trail, the economic impact on the local economy would be $5.1 million and result in 57 construction and ongoing support jobs. If additional infrastructure amenities and programming efforts were developed, the economic impact could increase to as much as $8.8 million and 144 jobs in construction and support.
- Bedford and Fulton residents would be willing to volunteer more than 3,700 hours annually to help maintain and improve the trail. The main concern for residents was vandalism.
- 45% of business respondents in the survey answered “yes/possibly” the Pike2Bike trail will positively impact their business, 32% answered “I don’t know” and 23% answered “no.”
- In scenario 1 (which included repairing tunnels, constructing two trailheads, and resurfacing the trail), the total investment is estimated to be $3.85 million.
- The overall economic impact is $4.8 million assuming two years of construction and an additional $370,000 annually for each year the trail is fully operational.
- 25,000 visitors are estimated with a spending potential of $1.34 million annually.
- Return on investment is expected in year 11.
- In scenario 2, all improvements from scenario 1 are included plus trail amenities, access to water, and an interpretative museum with staff. The total investment would be $4.87 million dollars.
- The overall economic impact is estimated to be $6.1 million assuming two years of construction and $1.5 million each year the trail is fully operational.
- 100,000 annual visitors are estimated with a spending potential of $5.36 million annually.
- Return on investment is expected in year 8.
- In scenario 3, with a nature reserve, more connectivity to trail systems, and a robust marketing plan, the total investment is estimated to be $6.87 million.
- The overall economic impact is $8.8 million assuming two years of construction and an impact of $3.3 million each year the trail is fully operational.
- 225,000 visitors are estimated annually with a spending potential of more than $12 million annually.
- Return on investment is expected in year 6.
The economic impact study included site visitation, public outreach meetings, surveys, and a literature review. Pike2Bike Steering Committee members emailed the survey to their employees, customers, and friends, and posted the link on social media websites contacting groups that had an interest in outdoor activities. The survey was open from October 14 to November 1, 2013. 511 fully completed and 107 partially completed surveys were used. Respondents were from 16 states and five other countries. However, 424 (83%) of respondents were from Pennsylvania, and 293 (57%) were residents of Bedford and Fulton counties. There were also 115 responses from business owners, with 99 located in Pennsylvania. Survey results informed the development of the impact scenarios, estimates for annual visitation, potential trail uses, potential business investment, potential volunteerism, and expected visitation from outside Bedford and Fulton counties. An estimate of visitor spending was derived from other trail studies such as those addressing Ohio’s Little Miami Scenic Trail and the Heritage Rail Trail County Park.
IMPLAN was used to generate a scenario-based economic model. Inputs to the model included construction, operational estimates, and estimated visitor spending. The model reports the impact to Bedford and Fulton counties and does not consider statewide-or-greater impacts. Three development scenarios with increasing levels of investments and amenities were designed with separate economic impact models and return on investment analyses. The costs and amenities associated with each scenario were developed based on the 2006 Gannett Fleming Master Plan, the resident survey, and comparative trail studies.
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