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Sandcastle final mile

This topic contains 55 replies, has 22 voices, and was last updated by  byogman 10 mos.

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Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 4:13pm #

Anyone going to the Friday, October 12th ground breaking for the Sandcastle final mile of the GAP? It is at noon at the far end (by the scrap yard) of Sandcastle’s parking lot. I am going to attend.


stefb

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Oct 9 2012 at 4:22pm #

I never really get a lunch on Fridays so I can’t make these things. I would be tempted to yell out “it’s about time!” Very glad this is happening.


Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 4:32pm #

stefb – I am happy to yell it for you!


Vannevar

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Oct 9 2012 at 4:45pm #

Is Sandcastle/Keystone Really the Final Mile of the GAP?

<cranky bastard alert> Is Friday’s media event really marking the beginning of the completion of the GAP?

Question: Will the Great Allegheny Passage be complete when the Sandcastle-Keystone Metals sections are open?

Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s say it’s spring 2013 and Sandcastle and Keystone are open. Jack and Jill ride from DC to Pittsburgh, and they ride through McKeesport, through the Waterfront, through Sandcastle, through Keystone Metals, and up to the Hot Metal Bridge.

Is the HMB the terminus of the GAP? Probably not. So where does the “now-completed” GAP go to?

If it stays on the same side of the river, it continues along the SoSideWorx Plaza, and then stops a few blocks short of Station Square. Shirley that’s not a completed GAP, ending at the Terminal Building?

If it crosses the HMB and takes the Jail Trail to Grant Street, and then takes the joint-use sidewalk to Smithfield Street, what then? That’s not a completed GAP either, is it, ending at the Smithfield Street Bridge?

Where is the northern terminus of this completed GAP?

I think describing Sandcastle-Keystone as the Final Mile is a misnomer, and possibly an indication of GAP-fatigue. </cranky bastard alert>


Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 4:54pm #

Vannevar – I share some of your frustration, but your facts are a little off.

When this is completed, you will be able to continue through Sandcastle and stay on the same side of the river all the way PAST station square, you can then loop around and take the bridge sidewalk over the river to the point, then cross the river again to the north shore and continue on those trails…..OR….cross the HM bridge and use the jail trail to access the city….so one could ride from the point all the way to DC.


erok

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Oct 9 2012 at 4:56pm #

i’ll take it. jack and jill can get from pittsburgh, pa to washington dc with nary a car in sight. sweeeeeet. getting to the point is the cherry on top of the icing, which will be a painless wait.


Mick

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Oct 9 2012 at 4:56pm #

@VAnnevar Jack and Jill ride from DC to Pittsburgh,

Excellent thought experiement!

I ran into a lost GAP couple in Homestaed once and guided them past Sandcastle. (I suggested they go to OTB and that might not have to pay for their own beer.)

I started looking at the city “through their eyes.”

We have a serious lack of signage.

When you get to the HMB, you can see downtown, but there are no signs to tell you which way to go. If you cross to the jailtrail, there isn’t a sign at the ramp down to the street that indicates which way to go to get downtown. There are no signs directing Jail Trail riders to Oakland.

This couple was eventually headed to a B&B on North street.

There are no signs directing riders to the Ft Duquesne bridge or any other route for that matter.

Constrast that to the situation for cars, with clear road names at almost all intersection and great signage for people coming in from out of town on major routes. Do you need a map to get to, say, Monroeville? No. If you have soem clue as to where you are going (“We’re supposed to go over a bridge from twown to some tunnel…” you can get where you want to go.

MEanwhile, if someone where looking for the Eliza Furnace trail on their way in from the GAP? NADA.

When they do get to that trail (or any other trail), there isn’t even anything to let them know they’ve arrived. Even block-long alleyways are signed better than that.

I’m guessing it will take quite a grant to get good signage, but I think it’s worth it.


rsprake

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Oct 9 2012 at 4:58pm #

And you technically have to take some roads in McKeesport still. This is the biggest barrier though since there isn’t a good option for getting around it.


Mick

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Oct 9 2012 at 4:59pm #

@TonyP you can then loop around and take the bridge sidewalk over the river to the point,

Hmmm…

Trying to get over the Ft Pitt Sidewalk with a fully loaded-for-camping bike might be a bit of a trip.

And of course, if they arrive on a Sunday night in the rain without very specific directions, they have no way of knowing how to get there, anyhow.


Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 5:01pm #

Mick – agreed, signage is poor. I end up using google map’s pictures to figure out where I want to go. As we add infrastructure some signage would be nice. The Clairton Connector signage is hard to follow and one sign is totally wrong.


Vannevar

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Oct 9 2012 at 5:04pm #

Hi TonyP, I’m sorry to seem frustrated – I love the GAP, I’m going to love having SC/KM open it’s going to be fabulous. I’m just a bit OCD-Orwellian about words meaning what they’re supposed to.

And I appreciate a focus on the facts.

Fact1: The GAP is a motor-vehicle-free trail. From their website,

When completed, the 150-mile GAP will connect with the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath at Cumberland, Maryland to create a 334.5-mile traffic and motorized vehicle-free route between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.

Fact2: You can’t get from the Point (which I think many would identify as the northern terminus of the GAP, but it’s open to discussion) to the SoSide end of the HMB without riding on streets with cars.

Therefore, the GAP isn’t complete if you’re riding on streets with cars.

And it follows that opening SC-KM will not complete the GAP.


Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 5:06pm #

Mick – agreed again, I have crossed those bridges with double panniers and the sidewalk is tight to say the least….not sure what I would have done had someone been oncoming.

I suspect anyone taking the full trail journey would do some route planning and scope this out. Its just not ready to drop in and head to DC.


Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 5:11pm #

Vannevar – you got me there…no possible way to do it 100% car free. Still have that small piece outside Station Square on both sides, where it is road sharing. Of course the Mckeesport piece as well.

I guess I am excited at the idea of the connection under the Glenwood Bridge….makes my trips from work to OTB a lot easier!


Mick

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Oct 9 2012 at 5:19pm #

The whole route from Boston would be a nightmare to anyone thinking “I’ll just follow the trail.”

The other end isn’t like that.


Vannevar

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Oct 9 2012 at 5:33pm #

I’m just saying – what they’re declaring on Friday isn’t accurate, but I’m excited and glad for what they’re doing.

And they can say whatever they’d like for public consumption if they’re building bike infrastructure; i’m a bike whore that way.

And I should mention, on the DC side, you really have to know what you’re doing to find MP0 behind the Thompson Boat House.


Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 7:29pm #

We’ve actually found and led quite a few lost riders between the point and Boston this past year. Signage is non-existent in some places. It can be very confusing and frustrating for many to figure out and this opening won’t change all of that. BUT…it will remove one giant barrier and we will no longer have to use the “don’t ask, don’t tell” work-around of walking along the tracks. I’m going to be very happy to see this segment complete and plan to attend Friday’s festivities. :) It’s all good!


Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 8:30pm #

im glad i have the day off and it is looking as though the weather will be rather co-operative as well.

(and i need to go to target, so its pretty much on the ride :P )


Steven

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Oct 9 2012 at 9:31pm #

The official GAP route takes the Eliza Furnace Trail, so this won’t complete the GAP as a car-free route to the Point. The South Side route is just an alternative.

But technically, the announcement says they’re beginning work on the final mile, which is true. Currently the missing spans add up to maybe 2 miles. Once the Sandcastle/Keystone section is done, the remaining bits will be under half a mile, I think. (Tough expensive bits, but short.)

Totally agree about the lack of signage.


Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 10:00pm #

Leave downtown Pittsburgh with friends on Friday afternoon and takeweekend trips to camp and play at Ohiopyle!!! cool!!! Another step towards PITTSBURGH BIKE NIRVANA!!! well sorta. GOOD STUFF


Marko82

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Oct 9 2012 at 10:11pm #

I hope to attend on Friday (cookies!).

I think this stretch will allow a lot of cyclist to expand their range. I’ve talked to many recreational riders at the turn-around who basically say they would “never” ride on the road. But by extending the trail to the stores/restaurants in Homestead they may find that it’s not as horrible as they think.

Also, signage sucks everywhere in PA.


mark

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Oct 9 2012 at 10:17pm #

The C&O starts on an island attached by a crappy bridge that comes from a dirt trail off the parking lot of a rowing launch… so don’t worry about it too much.

the trail now goes to the city limits on both sides! yay!


Ohiojeff

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Oct 9 2012 at 10:19pm #

I don’t live there anymore so maybe this is off, but in theory, you will one day be able to cross to the Jail Trail, then cross the intersection at Grant and Fort Pitt and various off ramps, roll down that wide sidewalk/trail thingy, and then take the (and this is the part that could be off the planning boards?) switchback ramp down to the Mon Wharf and travel (possibly through thick mud) along there to some sort of bypass around the old railroad bridge pier and into Point State Park. So that might indeed be the last mile.


Anonymous

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Oct 9 2012 at 10:27pm #

hooray! Any estimates on when it will be completed?


Vannevar

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Oct 10 2012 at 12:26am #

Yes, OhioJeff, I believe you’re quite right – completion of the Mon Whorf Switchback would also complete the GAP, even if they only (initially) completed the stairs depicted on the left side of the bridge in this image.

I’d love to hear an update, but my understanding is that the MWS is designed, unfunded, and unscheduled.

Until that’s complete, the GAP is incomplete.


Steven

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Oct 10 2012 at 5:49am #

This page from December 2011 says the switchback ramp was 2/3 funded. This page from March 2012 says the switchback ramp at one end and the cantilevered connector at the other were 1/3 funded. (I guess that’s a combined total, and the ramp portion is much farther ahead.)

Maybe there will be some news on Friday.


sarapgh2

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Oct 10 2012 at 2:56pm #

I’ll be there Friday as a member of the Steel Valley Trail Council, which will maintain this section of trail. If you’re interested in things like the progress and subsequent maintenance of the trail (and future celebratory events) consider joining the council. Website is steelvalleytrail.org and we meet monthly.

Steven is correct about the official alignment of the GAP. It follows the jail trail to the Point. ATA has been holding off on GAP signage for these portions of the trail until the Sandcastle section is complete. There are markers in the asphalt path though.

Mon Wharf is very much still under consideration and needs funding. Unlike the heady days of enhancements and TEA funds, the money to build stuff like this just isn’t laying around (not to imply that it every really was). If you want these projects built fast, make that known to your representatives. The squeaky wheel gets the money.


Anonymous

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Oct 10 2012 at 3:50pm #

Recently some new biking trail singage has been posted on the Hot Metal Bridge (second ave side).

Notating trail directions, i was going to snap a pic last night, but i was a slacker.


sarapgh2

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Oct 10 2012 at 3:53pm #

I’m pretty sure those are part of the city’s signage plan. I’ve seen similar style around. Anyone know if that’s correct?


Anonymous

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Oct 10 2012 at 4:05pm #

I previously heard that Friends of the Riverfront was/is attempting to address the issue of signs/maps on the trail. Anyone know if this is true?


rsprake

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Oct 10 2012 at 4:13pm #

There are signs to and from the Eliza Furnace trail and Point Park. Someone is doing it.


Vannevar

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Oct 10 2012 at 4:44pm #

I think these are the signs you’re discussing, they’re good.

Location: north end of the Jail Trail, behind PNC, at Grant St.

In a most-perfect-world, they’d include “You are here” location info, and who to call in case of an emergency (which is different all along the trail).

They are good, and far far better than what transients had before.


Anonymous

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Oct 10 2012 at 4:59pm #

yup, those are the new ones.

same design as the ones on HMB.

i’ve alos seen them on the Smithfield st br too.


Steven

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Oct 10 2012 at 6:00pm #

In a most-perfect-world, they’d include “You are here” location info, and who to call in case of an emergency (which is different all along the trail).

Shouldn’t you call 911 in case of emergency? It seems impractical if the first step in an emergency is “Remember the phone number printed on the last sign we passed and call it”.

Or do you mean the sign should say who’s responsible for maintaining that trail section?


rsprake

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Oct 10 2012 at 8:11pm #

Yup. Those are the ones. The routes are odd after Smithfield St but I suppose it is what it is until the switchback ramp is complete.


salty

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Oct 10 2012 at 10:11pm #

The same signs were used for the “don’t ride on Penn Ave.” project. Pretty nice, although I think they should have distances on them too. Better yet:


Kordite

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Oct 11 2012 at 11:23am #

“who to call in case of an emergency”

I’ve called local police numbers and been told to call 911.


dmtroyer

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Oct 11 2012 at 4:45pm #


dmtroyer

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Oct 11 2012 at 4:47pm #

hah. I am bad at reading.


mark

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Oct 11 2012 at 4:56pm #

so… what did you think it said…


dmtroyer

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Oct 11 2012 at 5:20pm #

I thought the tweet from this afternoon was new news, but it looks like the news is at least a couple days old given the age of this thread.

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