GAP and bus questions

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Chuck
Participant
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This site seems very helpful with Pittsburgh related biking, but I’m heading to Pittsburgh from DC and I still can’t figure out whether I can take the GAP to the Three Rivers Heritage trail. Google maps and reports say there is a one mile chasm between the two, but it looks like there are dirt road between the two. (Though I definitely do not want to ride on busy highways).

Other reports show more convoluted (and I also assume hillier) ways to get downtown, but I’m not sure these are any better.

Also, once I get to Pittsburgh, I plan to take a bus to the airport to pick-up a rental car on to get home. Do the 28x buses come equiped with bike racks. I see that most buses do have racks, but I wasn’t sure if the 28x was an exeption. Any thoughts or help is greatly appreciated.


ieverhart
Participant
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That gap (pun intended) by the Glenwood Bridge/Homestead/Sandcastle (I think this is what you’re referring to) has been the last missing piece of the puzzle for a while now. It is under construction to supposedly be fixed by November 11, 2011 (11/11/11) and we shall see how it goes with that deadline.

Sandcastle, an amusement park, owns that parking lot and people have had varying experiences with them. If the place is open, people have sometimes been able to ride through their parking lot access road. Then, from right under the bridge to the west, alongside the railroad tracks it is possible to walk and push a bike for a hundred yards or so until it connects up with the South Side Trail (Three Rivers Heritage Trail is the name for the whole system, including trails on both sides of all three rivers, though it appears as such on Google.). There has also been a construction project for a water system, somewhat near where Becks Run Road dead-ends onto East Carson Street, which has cut off trail access, though that project may now be concluded.

The 28X used to be run with mini-shuttle buses, which I don’t think had racks, but has lately been serviced with full-sized buses which should have the racks. Another option to consider would be to leave your bike and baggage in town, ride the bus, pick up the car, and come back to get the rest of your stuff. Depending how much you’re loaded down, it may just be easier if you are in a less unwieldy state. Also, your rental company may have a bike rack on the car or something, but if you’re planning on taking a wheel off and putting it inside, they might give you a hard time about possibly messing their upholstery.


Chuck
Participant
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Thanks for the reply! I will be heading up this weekend, so let me ask, what would you do if you were trying to get downtown from the GAP. Is it worth trying to cut through the Sandcastle? (Is a waterpark really that busy in October?)

I’m happy to take an alternate route. I’m also happy to take a cab to downtown, but it sounds like I will need to make advance reservations.

As for your advice on car pick up, I’m totally with you. I think I am probably most likely to leave co-biker/father with the bikes at a coffee shop while I go pick up the rental, but I just wanted to know if taking my bike was a possibility.


dbacklover
Participant
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Construction for water system is still going on, (rode past it on friday) and the parking lot at sandcastle is CLOSED had to go around, up the steps and make my way past several signs to get back on the road (837? eighth st?) Sunday I rode part of trail from waterfront to little boston and that seemed all good (if somewhat boring.)


rsprake
Participant
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Every 28x bus should have a bike rack at this point.


Marko82
Participant
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The water system work is only during the week; the trail is open on the weekends. However, you will still need to get around the Sandcastle blockage.


Chuck
Participant
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Wait, now I’m really confused. The water blockage is different than Sandcastle blockage? I will be arriving on Pittsburgh on Sunday. Bottom line, how close can I get to Pittburgh downtown before I’m out of bike safe road? I don’t know the area well, but 837 sounds like a highway. When I looked at Google streetview the mish mash of highways between the two trails doesn’t look terribly safe.

Also, on further review, it looks like the waterfront/Homestead area has fairly decent bus service if I get to Sandcastle and can’t access the trail towards town.


Steven
Participant
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The GAP folks recommend taking the bus from Homestead, to bypass the unfinished section. Essentially all Pittsburgh buses now have bike racks.

You have two bus choices, the 57 Hazelwood and the 61D Murray. Both wind up downtown, where you can catch a 28X to the airport. The 57 Hazelwood has the advantage that you can get off early, at Second at Middle Street, just past Bates, and proceed into town via the Eliza Furnace trail (or take the nearby Hot Metal Bridge and South Side Trail, for a different route to downtown).

If you decide instead to go via the unbuilt part of the trail, past Sandcastle and Keystone, you’d be on railroad ballast, not a dirt road, for about a mile. On Sunday you shouldn’t have to deal with the water company project, only the Sandcastle/Keystone section on the ballast. There are other alternatives, as folks have mentioned, but they mostly involve unpleasant roads, riding crumbling sidewalks, a staircase, etc.


rsprake
Participant
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Chuck, you can reach The Waterfront shopping area.


Swalfoort
Participant
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Chuck;

Just confirming that yes, Route 837 is not somethihg you will want to ride. It’s not quite a highway, but it is a lot more like a highway than you will want to ride.

The Waterfront Shopping Center which is located between the Mon River and Route 837 and between the Rankin and the Homestead High Level (aka Homestead Grays) Bridges. This puts you about 6 miles (maybe) from the Point, ot the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.

Is your goal to bike as close to town as possible, or just to get to the airport bus?

The Waterfront is well served by transit. As of last week, all Port Authority (or local transit service agency) buses are equipped with bus racks. (There are a few exceptions for lines served with “coach: style buses.)

The Route 61C Bus runs from Homestead, near the Waternfront, to Oakland (where the Universities are). The 28X Airport bus starts in Oakland.

According to the Port Authority Service Map, the Route 61C does not enter the Waterfront property. Instead, you would pick it up on Eighth Avenue, near Amity Street. You’d want to be on the river/waterfront side of the street, and east of the bridge (so not on the Walgreen’s side of the bridge).

The 61 C will take you up Browns Hill Road, and then turn left onto Forbes Avenue. After about a mile on Forbes, you will enter the CMU campus area. The 28X bus makes its first pick up just WEST of the intersection of Forbes and Morewood, sort of opposite the big, parklike, CMU quad. You can pick the 28X up at multiple stops throughout Oakland, if you want to explore that area a little bit,

The 61C leaves Homestead about every 30 minutes on a Sunday. I suspect the 28X has similar frequencies. You can find out more at http://www.portauthority.org.

Good luck, and have fun!

P.S. And if anyone ELSE wants to tell him how to navigate Junction Hollow and get to the Eliza Furnace Trail, feel free.


Steven
Participant
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The 61C and 61D both run every 45 minutes on Sundays. The 57 runs once an hour.

You could take either the 61C or 61D from Homestead into Oakland and then ride streets and trails downtown. (The 61D will pick you up inside the Waterfront shopping center, while the 61C requires leaving the shopping center. After that they take the same route. See their PDF schedule.) This option gets you some additional riding time versus taking the 57. If you use one of the 61s, get off at Forbes and Craig, go up Craig, right on Fillmore, right on Boundary, and follow the signs for the trail. This adds about a mile of roads and a mile of trail (and perhaps a signed detour around a just-finished trail bridge), before you reach the spot where the 57 bus would have left you.


Chuck
Participant
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Wow! Thanks so much for all the help (and links too). The bus option to downtown looks both safe and easy.

I’m sure you all are hoping for the GAP gap to be filled soon so that you don’t need to answer questions from me. I’ve only been to Pittsburgh once before–not biking–but I’m really surprised that the trails don’t all connect. First, the river is one of the cities nicest feature. Second, there are so many hills it seems like trails at sea/river level would be a no brainer.


Impala26
Participant
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You’re preaching to the choir Chuck… preaching to the choir…

Bike racks on all the buses has been a very pleasant development though. And if all goes well the GAP should finally be connected by first or second quarter of 2012 is my best guess.

As Mick once said, SADcastle indeed.


ieverhart
Participant
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You can ride on East Carson Street from Homestead to the Hot Metal Bridge, but it may be a harrowing experience (certainly different from the tranquility of the trail).

Of course, you can ride the bus in from Homestead. If you like, you can get the 57 to Second Avenue and get on the Eliza Furnace Trail and continue the ride downtown.

http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Unknown+road&daddr=Great+Allegheny+Passage%2FGreat+Allegheny+Passage+-+Three+Rivers+Heritage+Trail+System&hl=en&ll=40.423102,-79.930344&spn=0.057043,0.132093&sll=40.42493,-79.93714&sspn=0.057041,0.132093&geocode=FXOUaAIdJ5c8-w%3BFUnxaAIduec7-w&vpsrc=6&dirflg=r&ttype=dep&date=10%2F02%2F11&time=4pm&noexp=0&noal=0&sort=def&mra=ls&t=m&z=14&start=0


cburch
Participant
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also if you are only going to the airport to rent a car you should be aware that there are several car rental locations (at least for enterprise) in the city itself. instead of spending an hour or so on the bus you could check out downtown or the east end or southside and then pick your car up in town.


Chuck
Participant
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Thanks for the idea cburch. Unfortunately most of the downtown locations aren’t open on Sunday and, from what I’ve seen, most rental car options require renting from the airport if you return in a different city. (I’m picking up in PGH and returning in DC).


Swalfoort
Participant
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Hey, I tried to send you a private message a couple of days ago. There are two ways to do this from this board, one way works, the other does not. Did you ever get the message? If so, you’d see a messages (1) on the upper right of the sign in screen.


Tabby
Participant
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@swalfoort – you should be able to tell from your own messages screen if you did it the way that works. If you look at sent messages and there’s no recipient name listed, then it didn’t go through.


Swalfoort
Participant
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Tabby, thanks for that tip. It did go through. I did not realize that there was a “sent file” at the bottom of the PM summary page.

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