top of page

Three Rivers Heritage Trail Economic Impact Study

Friends of the Riverfront
Economic Strategy

The mission of Friends of the Riverfront is to build safe, clean, and accessible riverfront trails as part of the Three Rivers Heritage & Water Trail systems, and to create and maintain an outstanding experience for trail users while providing economic, environmental, and health benefits to the Pittsburgh region. Since 1991, Friends of the Riverfront has worked to protect and restore the riverfront in the Pittsburgh region through trail development and stewardship. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail now encompasses 33 miles of urban and suburban riverfront trails along both banks of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers.

Friends of the Riverfront was looking for an updated impact study from the 2014 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis. In 2014, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) conducted a study of the users of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, with support from a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This survey was designed to monitor trail user characteristics and economic impact. In the decade since the publication of that economic impact report, the trail has experienced additional investment and users, growing from 24 miles to 33 miles in length.


Fourth Economy worked closely with Friends of the Riverfront to tailor the economic impact study to fit the local conditions of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Our impact study included a comprehensive approach to measuring impacts, including Economic Impacts, Health Impacts, and Community Impacts.


The findings underscore the trail’s significance, as both a recreational asset and a vital component of economic activity. In the past decade, trail usage more than doubled and economic impact more than tripled to $26.5 million annually. The insights from this study will serve as a compass, guiding efforts to enhance and expand the trail system, ensuring its accessibility for generations to come.


Pittsburgh, PA

Project Type

Economic Impact Study

Client Type




Final Deliverable Design Samples (Click to Enlarge)
bottom of page