Sparkt Bridges

Meet The Woman Who Made Life Better For Her Neighbors. Millions Of Them!

Linda Boxx brought together an army of volunteers to create the "friendliest" rails-to-trails system in the country. How they did it is pretty amazing.

This story is part of a bi-weekly series that celebrates people who are reaching across a divide to "build bridges" with those different from themselves. The Sparkt Bridges series is made possible with the support of UPMC.

Lots of people have big dreams. But only exceptional people have the vision to make them come true.

Linda McKenna Boxx is one of those people.

Linda led the effort to create something that almost a million people enjoy every year: a continuous "rails-to-trails" hiking and biking trail system, built along abandoned railroad rights-of-way, that allows people to bike from downtown Pittsburgh all the way to Washington, DC, and lots of places in between.

Linda Boxx (L) has ridden the trail from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC three times!

The task wasn't easy. Linda leveraged her position at Western Pennsylvania's Regional Trail Corporation to persuade hundreds of community leaders, lawmakers and financial supporters to join forces behind a multi-million dollar project that united a fractured a system of community rails-to-trails attractions into one amazing 335 mile ride.

No one was sure it would succeed. But Linda was confident it could be done. What she and the volunteers have accomplished is a great reminder that by working together, we can build something bigger than ourselves.

Linda's coalition-building resulted in the formation of the Allegheny Trail Alliance. The Alliance worked to link trails in Western Pennsylvania, creating the Great Allegheny Passage, and to connect the "GAP" to the C&O Canal Towpath trail in Maryland, which takes the trail on to D.C.

Now, every year , thousands of people complete the full trip from Pittsburgh to our nation's capital, and hundreds of thousands of others enjoy day trips along sections of the trail.

The rebuilt train station along the trail at West Newton, PA was one of the Regional Trail Corporation's big projects.

For Linda and the volunteers who were involved in creating this amazing recreational marvel (my dad Jim Linaberger was Linda's fundraising partner back when this all started) it's a source of great pride. "It was a joy to be able to do that," said Linda.

The Sparkt Bridges Project is produced with the generous support of UPMC. Life Changing Medicine.

How can you start something good?

There are lots of ways to support the trails system between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.

Donate to the Great Allegheny Passage Trail system by clicking here.

Shop at Amazon Smile to support the Regional Trail Corporation.

If you'd like to volunteer like the guys in our story, you can sign up with one of the individual trail councils or chapters near where you live. Click here to find one!

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