Redbank Valley Trails Association (RVTA) was officially organized by volunteers on May 17, 2010. The corridor was rail banked and acquired in June 2010 by the Allegheny Valley Land Trust (AVLT). Rail banking is done under a federal statute which preserves the corridor for possible return of the railroad, subjects it to certain railroad requirements and allows interim trail use. RVTA is working with AVLT to improve the corridor for interim trail use until such time as the corridor is conveyed to RVTA.
A Feasibility Study was completed in June 2011 on the main 41.5 mile trail funded by a grant from the Northwest Regional Planning Commission and sponsored by New Bethlehem Borough. RVTA Trail Feasibility Report 06242011
The first goals of the organization were to clean litter, clear brush, open drainage, and begin establishing the long term plan of developing the trail. Since that time RVTA and a group of dedicated volunteers have made truly record progress. In less than 7 years, all of the main trail was graded and rolled to compact the ballast stone, nearly all of it has been surfaced with crushed limestone for a smooth surface, parking areas have been established, and all of the bridges on the main trail have been decked and railed with most work done by volunteers. But there is still much work ahead with many more volunteers and funding needed to finish. Work is now underway on the 9-mile Sligo Spur which connects to the main trail at Lawsonham (mile 6). A major washout was repaired and the first mile has been improved up from Lawsonham.
Our major hurdles are 2 of the 3 tunnels (Brookville and Climax) that need drainage and roof work before the 2 tunnels can be opened. The Climax Tunnel at mile 17 is our highest priority because of its location near the middle of the trail. Phase 1 repaired a roof fall near the western portal. Phases 2, 3 and 4 added tunnel liners in from each portal to support the 4-course brick lined ceiling and a buttress was added to the western portal with funding from DCNR and TAP/TE funding. Additional support and guniting was done in late 2017. Work to avoid damage from rock slides at the eastern portal remains to be done but the tunnel should be open for the Winter of 2017/18.
Our hard working volunteers will continue to work on adding crushed limestone to graded and compacted sections of the improved trail, more parking and planning for rest room areas, way-finding signage, creek access and historic markers along the trails. The remaining portions of the unimproved Sligo Spur will be widened, graded and surfaced with crushed limestone as funding and volunteer availability permits. Our goal is to fully open the trail for non-motorized use by bicyclists, hikers, walkers, cross country skiers, and others who enjoy the beautiful unspoiled scenery.