State

Eastern Kentucky rails-to-trails projects get tourism grants

Dan Doucette, left, and Paul Bailey, right, rode their bikes on the Dawkins Line Rail Trail near Royalton on Nov. 3, 2016.
Dan Doucette, left, and Paul Bailey, right, rode their bikes on the Dawkins Line Rail Trail near Royalton on Nov. 3, 2016. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Two projects aimed at increasing tourism in Eastern Kentucky have been approved for nearly $4 million in funding.

The city of Prestonsburg received preliminary approval for a $1.95 million grant to turn unused CSX train tracks into a trail from Prestonsburg to David, according to Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers.

The project will include a water trail beginning at the Middle Creek National Battlefield, Rogers said in a news release.

Rogers also announced an organization called Royalton Trail Town received preliminary approval for a $1.9 million grant to help develop a campground and recreational area with horse barns on a 15-acre site along the Dawkins Line Rail Trail and the Licking River.

Rogers announced the grants Wednesday.

The money for the project comes from a pool of $90 million that Rogers worked to include in the federal budget in 2016 as a pilot program to fund projects that could help diversify the economies of areas hurt by a downturn in the coal industry.

Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania each received $30 million. Congress has since added funding for other coal states.

“We’re actively investing in the revival of coal country by opening new doors of opportunity for job creation, tourism and innovation across the region,” Rogers said.

The pilot projects are a joint effort of several state agencies and the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative, an effort to boost the economy of Eastern Kentucky.

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