On November 29th, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced $20,395,834 in Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grants to support improvements for bicycle and pedestrian safety and trail connectivity across the state. The funding includes a total of $3.45 million for the C&O Canal National Historical Park—including $1 million for “Towpath Rehabilitation.” This simply could not have happened without the tremendous vocal community support shown for this project.

The $1 million in TAP funding secured for Towpath Rehabilitation will help us to launch year one of a proposed five-year program to address the worst portions of the canal towpath and create a safer, world-class riding and hiking surface for our visitors.

This year’s TAP funding will support 12 miles of towpath resurfacing from Sharpsburg/Shepherdstown to Harpers Ferry. The TAP funds will be matched by a $472,000 investment by the National Park Service to resurface the towpath between Whites Ferry and Edwards Ferry.

With the connection to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail, the C&O Canal Towpath has become one of the premier cycling routes on the East Coast. Towpath improvements are essential to maintain the surface similar in quality to the GAP trail—with no roots, rocks, or ruts!

The new surface will be a vast improvement for recreational trail users. In 2016, the Allegany Trail Alliance and Senate Engineering conducted a detailed analysis of the towpath and created design drawings for necessary repairs, including priority areas for rehabilitation and a five-year plan for addressing these areas. This $1 million grant is a substantial first step in the process, but we will need to continue to push each year for additional support through 2021.

What’s Next?

This funding represents the first significant step in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project to address one of the Canal’s most pressing needs. As we prepare for the 50th Anniversary of C&O Canal National Historical Park in 2021, the C&O Canal Trust and the park will work together to advocate and raise funds directly to support our shared vision for this project and more.

Stay tuned as we roll out our plans. The C&O Canal needs your continued support to ensure that this vision becomes a reality!

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DID YOU KNOW: Preserving America’s early transportation history, the C&O Canal began as a dream of passage to Western wealth. Operating for nearly 100 years, the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber, and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. Today, at nearly 185 miles long, it endures as a pathway for discovering historical, natural, and recreational treasures.

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— ARTICLE BY: Robin Zanotti / Kevin D. Brandt — President, Superintendent / C&O Canal National Historical Park, Canal Trust

— For more information, visit Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park on Facebook.

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