JERSEY SHORE -- Thousands of people use the Pine Creek Rail Trail in Lycoming County every year. Now the trail is connected to downtown Jersey Shore.
The community is banking on the rail-trail connector to bring tourists into the downtown.
The hope is the more tourists, the more need for small businesses where bikers, hikers and the like can eat and shop and stay.
With a snip of the ribbon, the nearly 1.5 mile connector between the Pine Creek Rail Trail and Jersey Shore was open.
State forestry officials along with borough leaders are touting the connector as a way to drive tourism growth.
"We're promoting tourism, economic development. We're seeing all types of things spring up along these types of trails and connectors," said Secretary Richard Allan with the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The Pine Creek Trail pumps $5 million into the local economy. Now Jersey Shore hopes to get a more significant cut of that with this new connector that brings Pine Creek visitors down to the borough.
"Now we have we're able to introduce it to the people, see the community themselves, walk around the area and enjoy the history in Jersey Shore," said Mayor Denny Buttorff.
The downtown is ripe for business opportunity now that the Pine Creek Trail leads directly to Jersey Shore's streets, said Buttorff. Not only that, but the borough plans to build a new river access for boaters in the next year or so.
"It opens the opportunity for small business to develop and open up," said Buttorff.
For her first time on the rail-trail connector, Jody Livziey of Jersey Shore sees potential in bringing people here in the years ahead.
"It's fabulous, i hope it gets people to appreciate what's for free in our backyard," said Livziey.
Money for the rail-trail connector came from state and local agencies. Jersey Shore was also designated as a Rivertown by the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership. That means Jersey Shore hopes to be connected by land with the trails and by water on the Susquehanna River.