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Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike
A Run/Bike for the Cure
The following is a copy of an e-mail sent to the Southern Alleghenies Consevancy (SAC) & "cc'd" to me by David Epstein.
David's letter is in reference to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article 
published on November 11, 2001.
The article link is at the end of this page.
updated July 7, 2002

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is David Epstein and I was born (in 1953) and raised in York, Pennsylvania.  I have an idea for what I believe to be a great SAC(Southern Alleghenies Conservancy) fundraising idea that I want to tell you about.

Before I get to the substance of this message, I have to give you some background information.

Our family has relations in the Detroit area.  When we would go visit them in the late '50's and early '60's, our transportation mode of choice was the automobile.  This would entail 12 hours of driving on the Pennsylvania and Ohio Turnpikes.  Many would find this boring, but I was absolutely fascinated by these works of engineering.  So much so that I vividly recall a 1959 trip during which I made up my mind that I was going to be a civil engineer when I grew up.  I wanted to work for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission - resolved at the age of 5-1/2!  I wanted to build and maintain the turnpike!

I made good on the commitment to become a civil engineer, but by the time I was in college, most of the roads had already been built and I got turned on to aviation (airport engineering).  I started working for the Federal Aviation Administration in 1976 and have been with them ever since.  However, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  I consider it to be The Highway That Launched A Career!

I live and work in Alaska now.  Anytime I get back home to Pennsylvania, I make it a point to drive on the turnpike.  Corny as it sounds, it means a lot to me.  When I was back last year for my 30-year high school reunion, my wife and I went on a tunnel hunt to find the portals of Ray's Hill and Sideling Hill Tunnels.  She thought I was nuts (and still does); I didn't care (and still don't)!  I wrote a story about it for my web page (check it out at  This was a dream I had for a long time, and it finally came true.

I was really, really pleased to learn of your acquisition of the Ray's-to-Sideling right-of-way.  That is a beautiful part of Pennsylvania and untold thousands of people are sure to derive a lot of pleasure from the "Superhighway Trail" when it is opened.  Makes me want to move back home!

Now, here is why I am writing.  I have become a runner as of late, and my involvement in the sport has progressed to the degree that I put on a race for prostate and testicular cancer research (2002 will be our seventh annual 5-Miler for Men's Cancer Research) and also am the Alaska State Representative to the Road Runners Club of America .  There are many benefit runs that are put on across the country to raise funds for worthy causes.  I believe that you could put on a superb "destination run" to raise funds for the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy - in the fall when the colors are at their peak.  You could put on a, say, ten-mile run/walk along the right-of-way.  Properly publicized, you will have a ton of people that will want to experience running through the tunnels and take in the spectacular fall colors of Buchanan State Forest.  I don't see how you can go wrong.  When conjuring up this idea I thought about issuing souvenir toll tickets to runners and calling the race entry fee a toll instead of an entry fee.  Also you could have aid stations at the abandoned service plazas.  This event lends itself to so many great ideas.  If I lived back there, I would take this project on - in a heartbeat.  It would take some doing, true, but what a great event it would be.  If this race ever comes to pass, I will come back and run it - if I have to crawl back, I will do it.  My solemn promise.

An RRCA club could help you with the planning if you believe this idea has any merit whatsoever.  There are no such clubs in Breezewood or environs, but you can check out the Pennsylvania RRCA clubs and also contact the PA state rep should you so desire.  You can tell them I sent you!

Thank you for allowing me to share my idea.  This is not a joke, not a gimmick.  I am sincere about this idea.  You may call me at (phone numbers were omitted by the editor) home if you wish to discuss this matter further.  I would be more than happy to talk to you.  We are four hours behind east coast time.  Please feel free to e-mail me back, too.


David Epstein

The following addition is posted in response to a well-founded concern involving insurance & road conditions:

I should have said more in my original post about insurance. If an RRCA-affiliated club can be compelled to conduct the race, the insurance is a moot point. One of the benefits of a club belonging to RRCA is that their events are covered by a blanket policy (of) $2 million general liability.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article
Cyclists Await a Highway in the Wilds
November 11, 2001
Southern Alleghenies Conservancy
The "Superhighway Trail"

Some Pa. Pike Pages
J. Kitsko
Rush Wickes