steel valley trail

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Lenny
Participant
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Any progress on the Steel Valley Trail?? I was considering cycling this week,starting at the Waterfront and riding to Mckeesport.Is the Whitaker bridge open yet??? Let’s hope the trail is finished this year,but I sort of have my doubts because of the very slow and disappointing progress of the Pittsburgh trails.


sloaps
Participant
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Went through there earlier this month. The two crossings over the railroad in Whitaker appear complete though are blocked. There are survey stakes and earth disturbance from the southern crossing to the RIDC park limit in Duquesne.

The trail from the Duquesne RIDC park is open. Perhaps once the 1/2 mile or so of pavement is installed to Duquesne, then they may open the two crossings in Whitaker – for a complete trail from Homestead to D.C.?


rsprake
Participant
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The official opening date is June something or another. Their website is no help.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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I’m in Steel Valley Trail Council (which is just a group of regular people like you and me – ever consider getting involved?) and we haven’t picked a date for the opening of the trail from Duquesne to the Waterfront, yet; the plan is still some time in June. Don’t worry, it will get a lot of publicity when the date nears.

I think people are going to like this section of trail: it’s paved, it’s flat, it goes below Kennywood, past the Braddock Locks, has views of Edgar Thomson Works, and from the two bridges over the railroad tracks, there are nice views of Braddock, the river, and the coal trains.

There’s still construction ongoing (or starting soon?) in Duquesne, as sloaps noted. That’s why we haven’t opened it yet.


Tabby
Participant
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can’t wait


pratt
Participant
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the trail is nice, the bridges were “open” last time I went through (april). can’t wait ’till it’s complete. thanks for your hard work.

http://www.jonpratt.com/2011/Urban-to-Union-Railroad-0413


edmonds59
Participant
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That sounds really cool, I’ve always wondered what was down there below K’wood. Thanks!


thehistorian
Participant
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I did the road section from Clairton/Glassport to McKeesport twice. I enjoyed it although crossing the Mon was a little scary at first. I’d like to ride the rest of it…


rsprake
Participant
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Paul, we can talk at the next Edgewood council meeting.


Steven
Participant
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The two bridges are no longer blocked off in any way, and the Trail Closed signs (all but one) have been moved off the trail. Southbound there’s no indication the trail from Homestead to Duquesne and onward is anything but open. Northbound, there’s still a sign at Duquesne saying the trail’s closed, and some fencing in that region that’s not done yet.

The trail’s quite nice. But there are many rocks on it in some parts, fallen from the steep slopes above. It’s easy to get distracted by the great vistas and run over a rock. (Ask me how I know this.)


ejwme
Participant
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Ok, anybody want to post a google maps with a marker at a trail entry point? I was planning on a de-stressing ride, and this sounds perfect (but I don’t know where to start!).


Steven
Participant
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Here’s the Homestead end of the new trail.

The Duquesne end is at Grant and 837, just over the railroad tracks, right where the trail from McKeesport ends (as shown in Google Maps bike view already). Can’t miss it.


ejwme
Participant
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Thank you! So is it connected to the Waterfront portion of the GAP as shown in google bicycle? Just trying to figure out where to park the car, as we’ll likely be driving to and then biking.


Ahlir
Participant
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@ejwme: Park at the mall.

You can start as far west as the pseudo-village and ride the trail next to the river. Or you can park at the eastern end, at the memorial USS put up to their “employees” (I guess USS just couldn’t bring itself to call them steelworkers). It’s an easy street ride from there to the trailhead. There’s a big parking lot adjacent, but I think it’s private.

Don’t forget the trip report!


Steven
Participant
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Yup, the two trail sections aren’t officially linked yet with a car-free connection, just a very bike-friendly road (with a narrow sidewalk that’ll eventually be widened into a trail segment, I think).

Forgot to mention: The northern bridge was guarded by this guy. He was big!

A few more trail photos.


Marko82
Participant
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^ Yeah, you know you’re pedaling slow when those guys show up!


Mick
Participant
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When I did a Morgantown trip a while ago, some of these guys were circling above me. I was SO relieved they decided to move on.


ck
Participant
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Question: Does this mean that if a person was planning a trip from PGH to D.C. after June something that they could start at the Waterfront? (and not have to ride on whatever section everyone always describes as being hairy/scary)


Steven
Participant
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Yes, that’s right. The official opening is in two weeks, but it’s rideable right now. (I guess they could close it again before the opening to complete the fencing, but it seems unlikely.)

Here’s the opening announcement that was posted on various trail lists on Friday June 3:

PLEASE JOIN US TO CELEBRATE!

The opening of the newest section of the Great Allegheny Passage.

Friday, June 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

The amazing 3-mile section of the Passage includes two new bridges, a rolling ride along the scenic former U. S. Steel coke gas pipeline, and an exciting view of two of the Kennywood Park Coasters.

There will be an brief ceremony at the Whitaker Bridge to thank the funders, landowners, contractors, and volunteers. Bring your bicycle and ride the new section after the event.

RSVP to [admin followed by an @ and then the domain atatrail.org] or call 724 537 6905.

* Please enter at Guardian Storage (1002 East Waterfront Dr.

Munhall, PA 15120) and you will be directed to parking for the event.

The photograph below is a preview from the bridge across the Monongahela River to the Edgar Thompson Works of US Steel, the Whitaker Bridge on the far right, and in the center distance, Kennywood Park.

[The photo wasn’t included.]


Steven
Participant
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On the other hand, a more recent email on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail list says

Don’t park at the Duquesne, Grant Ave end. That end will be closed until the ribbon cutting is finished. Then the gates will be taken down and the whole segment will be open for business.

So maybe they’re going to install and close a gate in the next two weeks so they can open it on the 17th? (Last week the more southern bridge still had a gate attached to it, but open. The northern bridge had none. There wasn’t enough fencing constructed at the Duquesne end to make a gate functional.)

Safest to wait for the official opening, I guess, if you’re riding through.


ejwme
Participant
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I didn’t get there this weekend, headed to Montour instead (went with a relative who lives right there). Looking forward to the opening… Maybe the flock will stop by that night, I think June Flock is the same evening.


sarapgh2
Participant
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The official opening is June 17 but it was fully open this weekend. Whether it will stay that way until the 17th is anyone’s guess.

For future use, just park at the mall (Lowe’s is cool with it) or at the Pump House which next to Marcegalia. You have to follow the road/sidewalk around Marcegalia then you’ll see where the trail goes off to the left and stays along the river.

The trail is fully paved, not crushed gravel, until beyond McKeesport. You can do a great loop from the Waterfront to Boston (where you can do ‘The Loop’, you’ll see the sign) and back. I did it at a fairly slow pace in about 3 hours. Water can be found at the Boston end and at the start of the McKeesport section (by the marina) but is scarce the rest of the way.

Passing by the rollercoasters at Kennywood was pretty cool, I swear I could smell the clorine from the Logjammer:)


edmonds59
Participant
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sarapgh, I’ve read a lot of people making negative comments about the trail between McKeesport and Boston, saying just to avoid it. What was your feeling?


Nate
Participant
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The trail is real nice.

Usually, I’m pretty much a trail-hater, but I have reasons! Hear me out! First, I hate crushed limestone, it’s just a speed-sucker. Second, I hate the boring grade — everything is flat and straight. I can’t handle more than 20 miles of trail before I want to die. Built for trains, not for bicycles.

This little stretch of trail, however, was an access road alongside the tracks, built for motor vehicles. It’s got curves, dips, touches of vertical texture. And it’s paved, with smooth slick asphalt. Lovely. (Actually I loved it before it was paved, too)


Steven
Participant
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Back when the trail only went as far north as McKeesport, it was reasonable to advise GAP users to skip the McKeesport-to-Boston stretch, and start or stop in Boston.

That stretch south of McKeesport is a mixed bag. The western section includes a beautiful nature-preserve section with some dips and climbs (a bit like the new Duquesne-to-Homestead section) with a limestone surface, as well as a low-traffic asphalt road. The eastern section is mostly an asphalt trail past warehouses, with a feel like the Jail Trail, plus some low-traffic streets. Some parts are quite nice (mostly on the western side), but much of it’s just functional, not beautiful.

However, once the Riverton Bridge opened, I’d say it was worth continuing to McKeesport and Duquesne just for the great views from that bridge. And with the excellent new section up to Homestead opening, that old “stop at Boston” advice is just outdated.


sarapgh2
Participant
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I agree with Nate and Steven. The portion from McKeesport to Boston isn’t especially scenic other than a few nice miles along Dead Man’s Hollow (a conservation area) on the western section. So before the Homestead and even Duquesne sections were open there was no reason to ride it, might as well start in Boston. Now it’s worth the ride just to do the Riverton Bridge not to mention the rest of the Steel Valley Trail.


Ahlir
Participant
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Got to do the trail up to McKeesport and back today. Very nice! A very sincere Thank You to all the people who helped make it happen. There were lots and lots of people out biking, and the trail isn’t even officially open.

Anyway, some photos:

1) They’ve started work on the Baldwin-Sandcastle link.

This is like a huge change from what it looked like a few months ago.

2) The next frontier: hot metal bridge to Carrie Furnace (and thence to Duck Hollow).


Andrew
Participant
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Ahlir, it cool to see that they are starting on the small section by the scrap metal place.

I checked out the new trail on Friday. I few people were on it. The trail is great and it is cool watching the steel phantom go down the second hill. I hope they put a bench there I am sure this will be a popular rest stop.


Ahlir
Participant
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Andrew, I agree.

When I went by today, the spot with the roller-coaster had maybe a half-dozen people just standing there and watching. At least one of them had a camera out. Should have stopped and checked it out. Next time.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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Please come out to the opening ceremony for the new trail section Friday morning, (6/17 10am under the Rankin Bridge) if you can. We’ll have cookies and water. We’re expecting 100+ people.

By car: please enter at Guardian Storage (1002 East Waterfront Dr. Munhall, PA 15120) and you will be directed to parking for the event.

By bike: across the street from Guardian Storage is where the paved trail leaves the road and follows the river up toward Rankin Bridge. That’s where we’ll be.

People will be riding to Kennywood & beyond after the brief ceremony.

Please tell your friends to turn out.


Tabby
Participant
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does anyone have tips on the best way to do this coming from Rankin?

it looks like if I take the sheltered sidewalk over the Rankin that it would be perhaps more challenging then to turn right towards the Waterfront since the sidewalk is on the far side of the bridge only.

Then it’s only a short stretch of 837, how scary is this? Again there is a sidewalk that goes over the little bridge and down to Guardian, but this sidewalk also looks hard to access like I’d have to lift the bike up over jersey barriers.

Correct or am I missing something?


cburch
Participant
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taking the rankin bridge toward homewood i would just use the shoulder. its all downhill and the lanes/shoulder are plenty wide. you will only be on 837 for about a block and its not super crazy. just be careful about oncoming traffic when you make the right into the back of the waterfront as they left a one lane overpass bridge there for some reason


salty
Participant
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another article: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11167/1153824-55-0.stm?cmpid=news.xml

Mostly good but it sounds like some confirmation about what was being speculated on earlier, “Get to the point” 11-11-11 isn’t going to happen :(

Unfortunately, that is the end of the line for the time being. The last missing link of the Pittsburgh-to-Cumberland, Md., trail, through Sandcastle Waterpark and an adjacent scrap yard, won’t be finished by November as officials had hoped.

“We don’t have the funds in hand,” Ms. Boxx said last week. More than $1 million has been raised toward the estimated $3 million cost, and trail advocates are hoping Gov. Tom Corbett releases a $750,000 grant that state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, had added to the capital budget.


sloaps
Participant
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Have you noticed how it’s the transportation writer reporting this? Nothing against Nelson-Jones, but that’s a huge step to me.

I suspect Costa may have to expend an exceptional amount of political capital to retain that earmark. I wonder if ATA has solicited donations from businesses along the trail – especially in the southside works?


Vannevar
Participant
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Without sounding too cynical, I wonder… Once the American Water project is done, you’ll be able to ride from Duquesne to the Waterfront, thence to Sandcastle via trails. Assume SC is cool with allowing us to ride through the parking lot, and we walk across the ballast by the tracks. Get on the Baldwin Trail, Station Square, Ft Pitt Bridge, shazam you’re at the Point.

If you look at it that way, you can “ride to the Point” with the exception of SC parking lot and the train tracks, which we’ve been working around for years.

But from a political/fundraising perspective, I understand that the preferred/public route won’t be complete.


Tabby
Participant
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SC and others may actually be less hospitable if there are large volumes of people riding through there. It’s important for the ATA to not endorse the cut thrus as they are trying to maintain negotiations with these remaining links.

We’ll see what happens. There’s definitely going to be increased pressure to find some solution.


dwillen
Participant
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If it is really just a quarter mile of railroad ballast they need to pave over, why the heck does that cost $3 mil? Are they buying land as part of this? Repainting the SC parking lot cost that much?


Steven
Participant
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The $3 million is also for the mile of new trail alongside Sandcastle. So it might involve shifting Sandcastle’s access road in some spots, and making the land between the road and the tracks flat (some isn’t), before they get to the actual mile of asphalt, plus fencing on both sides.

The 800 feet to the west of Sandcastle might involve removing the massive stone supports for the former railroad trestle in that area, plus earth-moving to make a flat trail.

And I expect they won’t be paving over any railroad ballast (which is needed to keep the tracks from shifting), but building the trail next to it.

Construction costs also seem to involve non-obvious things like getting utilities to move their lines or pipes, or addressing drainage issues so the trail doesn’t get eroded away. I don’t know if they’re buying any land as part of this as well.

[Edited to eliminate confusing use of the phrase “past Sandcastle”]


dwillen
Participant
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Past sandcastle? Like, to the east of SC? are they building it along the river to join up with the current walking path there?


Steven
Participant
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No, I think the $3 million is only for the section from the eastern gate at Sandcastle to the Baldwin Borough Trail. (I edited my last post to make that clearer.)

The section from Sandcastle east to the existing Waterfront Trail will be via sidewalk for now (or the road if you prefer). I think a future project will widen the sidewalk, just as they plan to do for the sidewalk connecting the eastern end of the Waterfront Trail to the newly-opened Steel Valley section.

Here’s a new map from the Steel Valley Trail folks showing this week’s addition, and the road/sidewalk sections.

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