WEST HOMESTEAD (KDKA) — It was a big day for hikers, bicyclists and others who love outdoor recreation.

The final link of the long-anticipated Great Allegheny Passage was officially opened with a ceremony late Saturday morning at the Sandcastle Waterpark in West Homestead.

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Hundreds of people gathered in a parking lot before riding about six and a half miles to Point State Park, which is the western terminus for the passage.

Former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, long an advocate of the rail-trail, told the crowd, “this was a remarkable day, it will change people’s lives.”

Murphy told KDKA’S Ralph Iannotti he saw a change in people’s attitudes over the years, saying “there was a momentum shift at some point, people would ask – what are you going to put a trail there for?”

Then, he said people started saying, “I like that.”

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The woman described as the mastermind of putting the rail-trail in place said the energy [of everyone] is what helped build the GAP.

Linda McKenna Boxx is the president of the board of the Allegheny Trail Alliance.

It took $80 million and more than three decades for the GAP to be completed.

Congressman Mike Doyle, D-Pittsburgh, called it “another jewel in the crown of Pittsburgh, it’s another reason why people want to move back to Pittsburgh, because of things like this.”

Biker Jack Wilson of Murrysville who was on hand for the ceremony said, “I love the GAP, me and my wife ride it all the time, we just came in from Washington, DC.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the trail is a boost for the region’s economic development.

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