"We have ran 24 of the 26 miles of the marathon."
That's the sentiment Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways member Joe Colosimo expressed during a public scoping meeting on Wednesday at the Holiday Inn to discuss the Jakes Rocks Trail Project.
Representatives from PKP, the Allegheny National Forest, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and the International Mountain Biking Association were on hand to discuss the $1.6 million project that will bring a projected 46.25 miles of mountain biking trails to the Jakes Rocks area.
PKP member Chris Hobbs said that the purpose of Wednesday's session was an attempt to reach out to the communities surrounding the project area, to enhance public awareness and, also, public support for the trails.
Colosimo explained that the Pitt-Bradford students, who have been integral in conducting the environmental studies required for installation on national forest lands, selected the format for the session a very informal information sharing time, as opposed to a formal public comment presentation session.
"We're pretty excited," he said.
"(We are) going to make this happen," Colosimo added, explaining that construction could start as soon as spring 2015. The goal then is to complete phase one, which encompasses 17 miles of trails, next year with completion of the entire project sometime in 2017.
And it has taken a lot of partnerships to get the project this close to fruition.
"We've got a ton of great partners," Colosimo said, emphasizing that the ANF has been "great to work with" and that the UPB students have "just been phenomenal."
ANF Bradford District Ranger Mac Herrera said that sessions such as Wednesday's aren't required but "we want to hear from the public."
Herrera said that negative feedback was provided by one individual but, between the Wednesday session and a similar session held on Tuesday in Bradford, "everyone has been supportive and positive."