As you probably know, the Westmoreland Heritage Trail currently starts in Export (east of Monroeville), from which you can connect to the West Penn Trail (in Saltsburg) and the Ghost Town Trail (in Blacklick).
From the Murrysville Trail News in July:
The Westmoreland Heritage Trail (WHT), and its extension westward from Export into Murrysville, Monroeville, Penn Township, and Trafford
, is moving onto an ‘express line’. ...
Recent funding successes mean we have achieved our target goal of $1,064,000 for acquisition, planning, preliminary engineering and design of the 9.5-mile TCRR [Turtle Creek Railroad] corridor.
[survey and title work continues]
A Transportation Alternatives Program grant application (TAP2014) was submitted on April 4, 2014, requesting $1,850,000 for construction of 3.8 miles of the Turtle Creek Rail Trail, with construction proposed to commence in 2016. The TAP is a federally funded program administered thru PennDOT and Southwest Pennsylvania Commission.
More info here:
This is awesome. It gets so close to connecting to the GAP. If they could do that, imagine the network of trails you could access!
After this is done, you can start from downtown, you could take the gap to mckeesport, ride roads to trafford, take Westmoreland Heritage Trail to saltsburg then to blairsville, ride roads to join up with the ghost town trail and go all the way to ebensburg or take the hoodlebug trail to indiana, pa.
In 1993, I had hoped the TCIRR would be re-purposed into a Light Rail extension, and said so publicly. At one point, I suggested running the T out to Delmont.
I don't remember the last time I knew a train ran on that line -- at best it was one a week, five cars long, maybe 1987? -- and when I crossed over the tracks in Trafford last summer, there were large sumac bushes growing up through the rails.
If ten feet of rail ever get laid outward from town beyond Morewood Avenue, I would be highly surprised. Hell, if ten feet of rail ever get laid east of Dinwiddie Street, I would be highly surprised.
Sure, I'll take a rail trail.
Gotta agree with Stu on this one. T Stops out to Delmont would be awesome and hopefully take pressure off the Parkway.
The rail trail would be nice too, especially if Duck Hollow were to be expanded in the process.
The best way to take pressure off the Parkway East is to build lots of nice, not-ghetto-won't-ever-be-ghetto high-density housing west of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, and put a crapton of desirable public transit between there, Oakland, and downtown, with safe, desirable bike connections to those points, as well.
Turtle Creek industrial RR discontinued service after flooding a few years back. Federal regs require they can demonstrate absence of service for two years before they can formally abandon line. So, line was in use well into 2000's it seems.
A few weeks ago Yale & I were in Braddock and went exploring. We went East through town then past the mill. Just after the mill there is a road (2183) that takes you under the expressway and takes you right to several sets of RR tracks. We followed the tracks almost to Wall. There is a service road along all of this that is multi-lanes wide that could be made into a rail-trail with very little effort (basically a fence and some smoothing). This would make a great connection to the Turtle Creek Trail, and via Braddock to the GAP.
Google maps: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zlrJ_N1zpoVg.km-o7R5z3IS0
Here's a broad-brush map of where the major bike trails are now (solid lines) and where they could be in 10 years (dashed lines). Turtle Creek Rail Trail is orange, dashed.
Just need to connect braddock the trail system past carrie furnace to duck hollow and connect to turtle creek and braddock wtih a bike lane past ET
Is it now possible to pass around from Braddock Ave to Braddock Ave->Penn->Airbrake on what is labeled on Google Maps as 2183? (Without ending up on the TBE that is)
I currently drop in via Linden as the last time I tried to go under the viaduct, I ended up on the service road described earlier.
^sorry, it looks like 2183 is now a private road with a locked gate- i.e. not passable.
I was down there several days ago trying to see if there's a way through under the TBE. If you head southwest from Braddock Ave (through the parking lots of the YWCA / SMS Millcraft) you come eventually to an underpass that is blocked by a gate and a No Trespassing sign, and warnings of dangerous conditions ahead. I think it's labeled US Steel. Looking at the map, though, I think that if you were to go around the gate and down that road you'd end up connecting to Braddock Ave again on 2183, assuming you weren't stopped and didn't succumb to whatever danger lurks there.
OTOH the TBE is actually not that bad at that point -- nice and wide and very little traffic. It's a great example of Pittsburgh's intermittently overbuilt infrastructure left over from the past.
Don't forget about the rough diamond trail video, which is kind of a vision of what we could have if the trails get connected.
website which shows many of the separate trail systems in western pa.
Yeah! I was thinking of that video but was too damn apathetic to dig it up. Yeah!
BTW, on 2183 -- I rode by there on the way home today and the situation has changed:
That's the Braddock Ave end of 2183. So, I'm not sure what's going on there, but for right now the gate is open and it's smooth sailing.
At the October meeting of the Steel Valley Trail Council (SVTC) we'll be hearing briefly about the Turtle Creek Rail Trail from Jeffrey Richards of Westmoreland County. You're welcome to attend the meeting.
This month, our meeting time & place will be:
Mon, Oct 20
Whitaker Boro Building, Grant Ave & Church St, Whitaker
meeting starts at 6pm
(I'm guessing the TCRT discussion will run roughly 6:05-6:20)
I've been through there when the fence is open. From Jon's image, that actually looks like it is on the East Pittsburgh end of the map. You're not likely to get stuck on that side, since it's a huge parking lot with lots of people. Only danger is cars and 18-wheelers. On the other side, there's a fence, which you can see on Google Maps.
It's closed in Google Maps, but was open when I went through, about a year ago
reminder: there will be brief discussion of the Turtle Creek Rail Trail at the meeting of the Steel Valley Trail Council this evening
6pm, Mon, Oct 20
this month's meeting location:
Whitaker Boro Building, Grant Ave & Church St, Whitaker
FWIW, there was a new rough diamond trail project video released, the beginning shows some parts of braddock and the turtle creek area and gives an overview of the whole rough plan along with a list of trail organizations who have been building the trails for years.
re Rough Diamond video: awesome production values. I assume that a lot (if not all) of the labor was donated. This is great!
Whoa. You can get on (and off) the Carrie hot metal bridge and not get arrested? Now *that* is so totally worth knowing.
There was a 50 minute radio interview about the Rough Diamond Route on High and Wide Outdoors, a Latrobe-based, hunting-oriented show: https://soundcloud.com/wcns/120614-high-and-wide-outdoors
The tracks have now been removed from B-Y Park in Trafford to Lincoln Avenue in Export (most of the corridor). Besides for a section near the FTMSA sewage plant, the trail, although it is unimproved, is open, on a "at your own risk" basis.
A hybrid or mountain bike should probably be used; the trail is overgrown/puddled/bumpy in some areas, especially in the eastern part.
Most of the bridges have a deck composed of sometimes-rotted wooden ties (see this
) -- be careful on those!
Also, when riding there last week, there was a huge pile of cut tree parts several feet high, just to the west of the sewage plant; it was very tough to portage the bike over it. Hopefully it is removed by now :-)
for some recent info.
Considering taking a stroll down the trail with my bike later today. Any help with how to find the trail from trafford?
Also, the ride at your own risk thing - is it actually "legal" to ride, or should I be pretty descrete.
One way to find the trail is from B-Y Park (here
). If you go thru 7th Street entrance to the lake and all the way to the other end, you will see the rail trail perpendicular to the park - it is cinder with a bit of asphalt ballast, and it continues to the left and right. Getting to the park on streets from 5th and Brinton streets
is quite hilly, though.
Another way is to start at the tracks by the Trafford Veterans Memorial Bridge and head north with them (see map here
). This way is flat, and much less roundabout than the first way, but I don't know if it is "legal" or not (the trail is planned to eventually run there
, but it may still be owned by private the railroads (seeing that the track has not been removed on this part).
All the trail from B-Y Park until at least west to the CAT plant near Export has signs posted by the county which say that this is the future Turtle Creek extension of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, it may be used on an "at your own risk" basis, but no motor vehicles etc. allowed. So it is
"legal" to ride on.
Hope this helps :-)
Also, in this month's recent Murrysville Trail newsletter
, it says the trail will be walkable long before it is made into a proper trail. And there is a section, which starts from the sewage plant
on the west, which is closed and has a "Trail Closed - No Trespassing" sign (you'll know you're there if you see a small clearing, probably with a bunch of work vehicles in it) , but it is possible to detour there by taking the little road on the right to Meadowbrook Road, and continuing on the trail by the next road crossing.
Also, there is a connection
for the 1-2 mile Funk Bikeway of Duff Park. This bikeway is somewhat narrow, and heading west has some drainage issues, but heading east it is a good alternative to the rail trail, and you can get on the road by the next road crossing easily.
Before they removed the rails, I walked the trail in the Fall and cross country skied it in the Winter. It's nice! You might run into some fishermen.
Thanks everyone! I'll let you know how it goes.
I'm in Irwin, and I truly wish the old street car right-of-way from Irwin to Trafford would be turned into something similar. A few years back, I approached Allehgney Energy and they were willing to allow a trail on this ROW where they have power lines. We weren't well organized, and had some terrible experiences with adjacent land owners while exploring the idea. After a threatening phone call, I gave up thinking that a short trail wasn't worth the fight. Now that this could actually go somewhere, it may be worth exploring again.
@shawn: talk to Jeffrey Richards, with Westmoreland County Parks. He's highly involved with the TCRT effort. Contact info: http://www.co.westmoreland.pa.us/index.aspx?NID=1491
For the thousands of times I drove 993 between Irwin and Trafford, I never knew there was an interurban line along there. But since I now ride an old interurban line daily, I pay more attention than I used to to the subject.
Had a fun ride last night. The trees are still down; however there is a path around through the woods.
Past the water treatment facility, it is unridable mud. They used machines to grade it, and it's like quicksand. Had to turn around at that point.
Also, it's amazing to me that there are two old trucks rotting away in turtle creek!
I biked the future Turtle Creek Rail Trail yesterday, from Trafford Rd & Meadowbrook Rd (or Mills St) in Murrysville downstream to Forbes Rd in Trafford. In Google Maps, it's marked as a rail line, but those RR tracks were removed in the past year. Of this five mile route, the first half of it was quite muddy, even though we haven't had much rain in the past month, filling the fenders of my touring bike (38mm tires) with so much caked mud that I had to remove the front wheel and scrape out the fender. This first half is also marked closed, with No Trespassing signs, probably because of the heavy equipment being used to regrade it.
But the southern half (north-end access from Meadowbrook Rd near Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority or Saunders Station Rd) is officially open to cyclists and hikers. Its surface is a mix of small ballast (rocks 1 inch in diameter or less) and dirt, and would be fine for mountain bikers and passable for cyclists with tires of 30mm or more, I'd say. On my bike I was averaging about 7mph on this surface. When Westmoreland County resurfaces with crushed limestone (scheduled to start in 2016?), this should be a very nice trail for everybody.
mud near Murrysville end of trail
sign at Saunders Station Rd
I've been using this trail to walk a friend's dog once a week or so. It's really nice. We've walked from BY Park west/south to the Trafford Bridge, but I prefer heading east/north from the Park. After crossing Forbes Road, you pass two small businesses that've never been open when I was using the trail. The next mile or so is really nice.
That is all we have explored so far. We have not made it to what appears on maps must be a bridge. We have not made it to the sanitary plant.
We usually turn around somewhere near the MP 2 marker.
On most outings we see no one. On a couple of occasions we have seen one other person. Never more than that, if you don't count the mechanic who always seems to be tinkering on a piece of heavy equipment at the second business you come to.
From one direction, BY Park is posted as "no pets" but not from the main entrance. IF I expect the park to be busy (with like 15 people instead of the usual 5) I will try to park off off Forbes Road, near the ice cream stand.
I need to figure out how to access the trail from Saunders Station. I can SEE the route from the park there, but I can't figure out how to get there.
What: Celebrate the recent acquisition of the Turtle Creek Industrial RR to extend the Westmoreland Heritage Trail!
Where: Rivertowne Brewery, 5578 Old William Penn Highway, Export (east of Monroeville)
When: Thursday, December 10, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
Cash Bar and Light Snacks provided
The Westmoreland Heritage Trail Chapter of the RTC is hosting an informal event to celebrate the acquisition of 9.2 miles of the Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad Corridor to add additional recreational trail for walkers, runners and cyclists, and connecting the communities of Export, Murrysville, Monroeville, Penn Township, and Trafford.
Learn about the future work plans needed to complete the trail and meet fellow trail enthusiasts! For more information, please call Tom Dittman at 724-733-3661.
The Westmoreland Heritage Trail Chapter meets on the second Thursday of each month. If you are interested in becoming a member or a volunteer, please contact chapter president Noel Grimm at 412-372-5429.
I can't make it, but whoever goes, please tell Noel Grimm I said hello. We worked together 25 years ago at Westinghouse. I knew he was a cyclist even then. (I wasn't. This was about the time that I had four cars and went years without touching the bike.)
Reminder, the celebration is tonight (Thursday, December 10, 2015, 7:00 p.m.). See above.
Looking forward to seeing everyone tonight!
Notes from Thursday evening’s Turtle Creek Rail Trail (TCRT) celebration in the town of Export:
Turtle Creek Rail Trail will probably start putting down crushed limestone between Monroeville and Trafford in 2017 (not 2016 as earlier estimated).
The URA wants to refurbish the Rankin Hot Metal Bridge (RHMB, the abandoned railroad bridge just downstream of the Rankin Bridge) for car & truck access to the Carrie Furnace area as a second access road. The first is the Kenmawr Ave access ramp that was just built and which appears poised to open soon. The RHMB will be a future bike/ped connection. But it’s going to be expensive, so it’ll take years.
David Conrad, who created the Rough Diamond Route videos that you may have seen, was at the event, and we discussed future bike trail routes from Trafford to Braddock.
Sara Walfoort, who does rail freight coordination for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), was there. Regarding Allegheny Valley Railroad (AVR), CSX, and Norfolk Southern (NS), she says all railroads are regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which does track inspections and will sometimes tell railroads to improve the safety of crossings, e.g. the Amity St crossing of NS in Homestead where several people have recently died. FRA may have prodded AVR to tighten up on the Panther Hollow crossing.
Around PA, continuing decline of the coal industry could mean that other rail lines will close down in coming years, creating more potential rail trails.
More news: Funding arrives for Westmoreland Heritage Trail between Trafford and Murrysville.
"A $500,000 state grant will provide the final piece of funding needed to begin construction of the next section of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail between Trafford and Murrysville. ...The grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will supplement a $1.8 million grant received last year from PennDOT and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. The county could ... begin a year of construction in early 2017
Hello everyone. Thanks for bringing this project to my attention. I grew up in this area occasionally biking around those tracks, and I’m thrilled to see that the corridor is being turned into a legitimate rail-trail. For those excited for a progress report, I can give you a recent visual assessment:
For the first couple hundred yards from the Trafford Veterans Bridge the railroad tracks remain on the trail. But from the endpoint of the tracks all the way under the Pennsylvania Turnpike the trail is in rather good shape, and is easily rideable by mountain bike save for the very short bridge over Simpson Run, which can be (reasonably) safely walked across. The two longer bridges in this section which run across Turtle creek itself are in remarkably good condition, and are bikeable as is. Southwest of Simpson Run there seems to be quite a bit of surveying going on. Northeast of the run several drainage pipes were placed under the trail in the past month or so. Also, during about the same time period (Feb 2016) the two pickup trucks were hauled out of Turtle Creek.
From the Sewage plant just north of the turnpike towards central Murrysville at Trafford road the trail remains closed. Work on laying the new pipe seems to pipe progressing nicely, though. It will be great to see it finished, since the detour over Meadowbrook road is an annoying climb, and the alternate detour through Alpine Village on the other side of the creek is even harder.
The bridge in Murrysville near Trafford road that had the ties that were in the worst condition was stripped down to its underlying metal truss sometime in Feb or early March. It is closed to traffic, but safely detouring around this one is easy. The next bridge, behind Hoss’s parking lot, has likewise had all of its old railroad ties removed, though detouring around this one seems to require a trip along Old William Penn Highway or even route 22 itself. Perhaps others can confirm if the other bridges farther down the line in Murrysville have likewise been closed for renovation. Earlier this winter those bridges were in okay shape (compared to the one near Trafford road), though I’m sure they will all at some point be getting new decks as part of the rail-to-trail conversion.
As for those out there making it all happen, keep up the great work. This trail is indeed a dream becoming reality.
Thanks for the wonderful review, @MattK!
The Trafford Road bridge has gotten a new deck
. Not sure if it is open, though. They say sponsorship is available for 2 more bridges, so I guess two more are coming.
The two westernmost bridges over Turtle Creek itself seem to be ballasted decks, while the others seemed to be open decks (see here
It seems there are three more open deck bridges over Turtle Creek and one more open deck passing over Simpson Run (as mentioned above) which is very short compared to the others.
It says in the above-linked post that the stretch past the sewer plant is almost finished, though they are not sure as to when it will become walkable. This section continues through the Turtle Creek Gorge, running through the hills which the detours climb over.
Once Trafford Road is reached, one can go to Old William Penn Highway for a decent detour until the current west end of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail near Delmont.
Interestingly, Turtle Creek forms the border, for most of the time, between Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, between Trafford at the location where Brush Creek comes together with Turtle Creek (near where the old Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad junctions with the Norfolk Southern mainline) and a point approaching Trafford Road near route 22. Therefore, the 2 ballast deck bridges actually connect between the 2 counties, and the stretch between the 2 bridges is in Allegheny County, while the rest is in Westmoreland County.
Thanks for the update on the bridge. I saw that it had gone in a week ago, but I had no idea how they did it. Pre-building the deck in sections really made quick work of the job. Hopefully the bridge near School Road will soon get the same treatment.
As of the beginning of this month the section where sewer pipe was being put in is actually open and walk-able, even ride-able (for the most part) with a mountain bike. The "trail closed" sign has been removed, and a week ago workers were using heavy equipment to fill in the last two remaining holes. Some straw has been put down over the section around and to the northeast of milepost #4. This does help with the muddiness issue, though this part of the trail isn't draining very well, particularly to the areas northeast of the Abers Creek - Turtle Creek confluence. It's still a work-in-progress to be sure, though it has reached the point that it is likely easier to ride / walk though this part of the trail than it is to dodge traffic walking up Meadowbrook road to get around this section. Though personally I'll avoid trying to ride it the day after a rainstorm.
I heard,(could be rumor), the Westmoreland Heritage trail ending in Trafford will be extended and hit the GAP trail. I've always wanted to ride this trail,but have no way to get there because I don't have a car.I live near the GAP trail at the Waterfront.Does anyone have info of when they might begin construction and where on the GAP it will connect??
It is also part of the route proposed in the Rough Diamond Trail videos.
An extension of the East Busway is proposed until Turtle Creek, from what I've read. If a trail will be built alongside (like some of the busway in Wilkinsburg) that may be a decent connection?
You'll notice that all of the articles above are about trail planning and trail building activity in Westmoreland County, not Allegheny County. The Turtle Creek Rail Trail plans, so far, are all upstream of Trafford. I know of no concrete plans for trail-building downstream of Trafford, between there and Braddock or Whitaker, only broad proposals.
Downstream of Trafford, the most advanced effort I know of is by Debra Brown, Braddock council chair. She is coordinating an effort among several towns and boroughs (e.g. Braddock, Turtle Creek) to plan bike trails in the area.
Lobby a member of Allegheny County council if you favor a connection from the GAP to the trail in Trafford.
Just watched "Diamond in the Rough Bicycle Trail" by David Conrad. Apparently from what I was watching there are plans in the future to connect the W.H.T. to connect with the GAP trail.If David Conrad sees this post,maybe he could give us more info on when they might start the plan, and where on the GAP it will connect.
cycleguy; I think the goal is to eventually link as many trails as possible into a regional network. That said, such efforts tend to move slowly. Not for lack of dedication, inspiration or hard work. It's just that such things take time, and money (which takes even more time.)
Do you ride on road at all? If so, the trip to the Westmoreland Heritage Trail from the Waterfront would be very doable on a slow Sunday morning.
You'd ride through Braddock, past Edgar Thompson Works, stay below the Tri Borough Expressway on local roads, then return to Route 130 (don't know the name) near the Irish Club. This is the only part of the trip I'd really worry about, but it's only dicey for about a half mile.
Ride through downtown Pitcairn, then straight past Sheetz and Speedway to downtown Trafford. A right at the end of the bridge, and another right under the bridge will set you on the western end of the trail.
As noted earlier, there are efforts underway to make the Turtle Creek Valley (the area you'd be riding through) more bike friendly and explore trail options, but they don't have firm trail plans yet (that I am aware of). I know that David Conrad has been active in this effort, and I presume he is working with Debra Brown of Braddock City Council.
Thanks Swaloort for the information.I will look on a map to find the route you are talking about.I mostly ride on trails and avoid roads,however if the roads aren't high speed and also have a berm of 18 inches or more It won't bother me.Thanks again and hopefully efforts will be made in the future, for people like me, that do not have a car to make roads as safe as possible to travel to W.H.T. or any of the other trails.
however if the roads aren’t high speed and also have a berm of 18 inches or more It won’t bother me
You won't like the route out to Trafford, then. I ride these roads (as far as Turtle Creek) every day.
Wow.....and Trafford is even further out than Turtle Creek. I have to go past Turtle Creek to get to Trafford. Unless they improve the way to cycle there,(which may never happen),I will rely on friends to drive me there.Thanks Jonawebb for the information.
News from Jeffrey Richards of Westmoreland County bureau of Parks and Recreation:
A few updates on the Turtle Creek Extension of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail – Phase III Construction:
- Phase III is the 5.9 mile section of trail between Trafford and Murrysville.
- Construction of Trail Contract awarded to Facchiano Contracting Inc. of Pittsburgh. $1.38M. Pre-Construction Conference held with PennDOT on November 15, 2016. Physical construction scheduled to commence on March 1, 2017, though some tree clearing and grubbing may start once the ground has frozen.
- For renovation of two long, concrete deck bridges (one over Turtle Creek at Penn Twp/Monroeville boundary, and second over Turtle Creek at Monroeville/Murrysville boundary), contract was awarded on November 17, 2016 to Urban Corporation of Trafford. Bridge project shall be coordinated with PennDOT Trail Project, with planned completion date for each of August 10, 2017.
- Phase IV is the 3.4 mile trail section between Murrysville and Export. Along that section, the development of a ‘Park-Ride’n-Walk’ facility has been funded by SPC’s 2016 Livability through Smart Transportation (SMART) program. Project proponents include Westmoreland County Transit Authority (sponsor), Westmoreland County Planning, and Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation. This project is envisioned to provide approx. 50 parking spaces, a park-‘n-Ride Transit stop, and trailhead along the WHT. Project scoping session with PennDOT held November 16, 2016; soon to go into Design,… anticipated construction in 2019.
On Thursday evening, December 8, 2016, the WHT Chapter is hosting a Christmas party, celebrating the implementation of WHT-III, at the Spaghetti and Steak House on Rte. 22 in Murrysville, 7:00 PM (near Delmont). You all are invited!
I live in Irwin, and a few of us would like to get in touch with those responsible for this trail. Will someone PM me?
I don't have all of the maps, but back in the day, there was a street car that ran from Irwin to Trafford. I wonder about the possibility of connecting Irwin to Trafford (ultimately to the Westmoreland Trail).
Some of that street car right-of-way (1/4 of the way to trafford) is occupied by FirstEnergy power lines. Back about 6-7 years ago, I approached Allegheny Energy (before they because FirstEnergy) about using the right of way, and they were agreeable to the proposal. BUT... I ran into trouble when contacting a few homeowners that have homes next to the old streetcar path. Since at that point, we were only looking at a mile or two trail that didn't actually go anywhere, I dropped it - it wasn't worth the fight. However, now that the trail could actually go somewhere, it may be worth bringing back up again.
Irwin was a hub of street car traffic... there are many other connections live in possibility from there.
We don't have the expertise to get this rolling, but there is interest. Where do we begin?
As mentioned earlier, On Thursday evening, December 8, 2016, the Westmoreland Heritage Trail Chapter is hosting a Christmas party, celebrating the implementation of WHT-III, at the Spaghetti and Steak House on Rte. 22 in Murrysville, 7:00 PM (near Delmont). You all are invited!
[celebration of trail construction between Murrysville and Trafford that starts in March 2017]
I learned at the party last night: construction of the trail between Trafford & Murrysville might start earlier than March 2017 and it will be done by August 2017.
To connect between Murrysville and Delmont, they'll need a crossing or bridge at Route 66. Or maybe a tunnel - one idea: use the coal mines that already exist there to go under Route 66?
Is that the PA Turnpike part of Route 66 over there?
The old railroad line crossed Route 66 near Industrial Dr in Delmont:
At that level of zoom, you can easily follow the cadastral lines indicating the old rail right-of-way.
Toll-66 has only been there since about 1990. The railroad was in use through the 1970s. I'm not sure when it was abandoned out that far. There was still rail service to Murrysville (White Valley, to be exact) at least into the 1990s.
I'm going to guess 1970 as about the end date for abandoning the line from White Valley to wherever it went. I'm sure someone out there knows for certain.
How does this Rail Trail fit into the trail that is in Greensburg. the Five Star trail. My wife has been on it after work and was disappointed by the short length and its disjointedness. I haven't experienced it first hand.
They miss one another by the north-south distance between Greensburg and Delmont, that is, about six miles. Old 66, a.k.a. North Main Street out of Greensburg, might be a decent road to bike on, but I've never biked on it. Theoretically all the heavy traffic has been moved over to Toll 66, the Hutchinson Bypass.
Edit: Also the east-west distance between Export and Delmont.
I saw a video, (Diamond in the Rough),that the Turtle Creek Trail will eventually extend from Trafford and hit the Steel Valley Trail somewhere between Rankin and Duquesne.Is it just rumor?Does anyone have more information?I live in the city and would love to see this happen.
@cycleguy asked about possible future trail between Trafford and Rankin. I wrote about that a bit earlier in this thread (http://localhost/message-board/topic/turtle-creek-rail-trail/page/2/#post-328154
). We need more people working on this.
@paulheckbert, What can we do to help make this happen?
For the 1st mile from Trafford to Pitcairn, I know the area forwards and backwards, and there is a perfect old trackbed (sans tracks) that runs behind the shopping center and driving range, along with an abandoned railroad bridge across Turtle Creek that could be worked in (there are actually two bridges in close proximity, an open deck bridge just upstream of the Brush Creek confluence, and a ballasted deck bridge just downstream of it. While the ballasted bridge is the only one that is walkable at the moment, the other bridge may ultimately be easier to work into the route)
After Pitcairn Park going toward Turtle Creek and Bradock, I haven't completely worked out every turn yet. But it's definitely doable, with a combination of railway re-use and bike lanes on low-traffic roads.
But what is the first step to get there? To those who got the Murrysville to Trafford section rolling, how did you begin? Hopefully the Trafford to Rankin section can begin the same way.
@MattK: More discussion of this (a trail between Trafford and Braddock) seems to be what's needed, currently. If we could get people in positions of power with Allegheny County or the boroughs to provide some leadership, that would help immensely. To induce politicians to do that, we need to simultaneously build public awareness and support. Two people to talk to:
Jeff Richards , Parks Planning Coordinator, Westmoreland County. He could tell you how Westmoreland County have planned and are builing trail between Saltsburg and Trafford.
Deborah Brown , Braddock borough manager. She is working on a grant to study bike trails among several boroughs, including at least Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and Turtle Creek.
If you want to lead a walk or bike ride of some of these areas near Trafford & Pitcairn, some time, I think we could attract several people.
How traversable is the path in question now? I would walk it, or push or ride a bike, with a video camera in hand, to show people how do-able it is. I did this a couple years ago with a "goat path" in Schenley Park, from an established trail down the hillside to Boundary Street, and again a couple months ago, with a proposed trail in Ross Twp.
In particular, looking at the area in question on Google Earth, you're right up against what looks like a school bus storage area. Can you get past there now? Will the bus yard need to be moved in a couple of feet? If so, you're likely facing several obstacles from that facility, at least the expense of repositioning the fence. But if you can already roll past there without problem, that's what your video would show.
Edit: This is what I sent to the Walk\\Bike Ross group a couple months ago.
Preliminary report on the trail up to West View. I did hike it and rolled video. Here is the hike, in three pieces. I also have video coming down but did not upload that because of length. (Translation: I got lost a couple of times, not being able to find the trail.)
Video #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY2blaimQRU
Video #2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbD7fn7Wqbw
Video #3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2YBGKnJV1Y
Edit 2: The Schenley Park goat trail video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxTgU7IVpgw
Thanks guys. I'll put together an e-mail to our friends in the respective parks departments, but only after I've put some more thought into all of it. I know people like to see something more akin to a "plan" rather than just an "idea" presented to them, and I know there are probably still many ideas to kick around to determine which should be presented as optimal.
As far as the bus place goes, I did scope it out. The area outside the fence on the western side is walk-able, but a little tight. The southern and western edges are impassible at the moment, as the fence is pushed right up against the steep slope and the old open deck bridge. It is entirely possible that this fence was set where it is primarily to keep kids from climbing on the bridge and jumping into the water, which we were known to do back in the day...
Does anyone know an easy way to find out exactly where property lines begin and end, who currently owns what, and what the estimated values are? Obviously any business owner whose parking lot has to be reconfigured will have to be fairly compensated for the expense, but it's hard to tell just who (if anyone) owns much of the abandoned rail corridor.
I'd like to find a way to keep the proposed bike trail a true "rail-trail" whenever possible. This isn't just for historical preservation, but for the aesthetic value and added safety that goes with having a trail alongside a creek as opposed to having a trail alongside a busy highway.
Here's an old map I found that shows where the rail line north of the creek used to be. Anyone who takes a walk behind the driving range and the shopping center will quickly see where the rail once was. Back when I rode there the trail had a consistency similar to what the Trafford to Monroeville section of the Turtle Creek Greenway has now: a fairly smooth ash-like surface with scattered larger chunks of ballast rock. When I walked it a few months ago it was still in pretty good shape.
@MattK: two real estate search sites are http://www.lotstolove.org/
(good) and http://www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/Search.aspx
(klunky). The former yields the following (I clicked on the lot highlighted yellow). Hmmm, Pennsylvania Railroad. Wikipedia tells me "At one time, the PRR was the largest publicly traded corporation in the world, with a budget larger than that of the U.S. government and a workforce of about 250,000 people", that they went bankrupt around 1970, and that Norfolk Southern acquired most of their land.
If you contact Jeff or Deborah, they might have contacts in the area that could help figure out some of the property issues.
Thank you so much, Paul. The lotstolove website looks really amazing. It looks really promising as well. Nearly every parcel along the route is listed as an unused railroad or unused industrial site. I've got a couple weekends free, so I'll start throwing together a little plan and report back later. :)
MattK, you might also want to contact some of the folks quoted in this PG article
from August 2016. It mentions the former trolley line, and the idea of a trail from the Westmoreland Heritage Trail at Trafford to the GAP.
In his "Rough Diamond Trail" videos, David Conrad mentions the mayors of Braddock and Turtle Creek, who appear to be supportive of bike lanes. From 5:20 to 6:00 in the video, he's biking between Trafford and Murrysville.
This Turtle Creek Rail Trail thread, because of its inherent excellence, made it onto BikePgh's list of 2016 Best of the Message Board
Hmm, I can't seem to upload pics right now (?)
The oldest map I've found so far that has a Trafford to Rankin rail-trail sketched out is in a Turtle Creek watershed conservation plan from 2002. The map can be found on page 122 of the plan
. The map refers to it as the "Forbes Trail" and appears to have it running to the north and then to the south of the creek as it winds downstream. I haven't looked at the southern side of the creek yet, since the tracks on the southern side are very
active unlike the tracks on the north which are either abandoned or already removed completely.
I tried to read up a little bit on the Pittsburgh Trolley Line. From this old document
it seems that some sort of passenger rail line did run the Turtle Creek - Wilmerding - Pitcairn - Trafford route. On my walk along the north side of the creek I did not find any evidence of trolley tracks (thought I didn't check every street). I did find some old tracks in Pitcairn near the auto shop in a very old roadbed paved with bricks. I counted 14 bricks between the rails, which if the bricks are 4" wide would make it around 4' 8" between the rails, or about standard gauge, not Pennsylvania Trolley gauge, which is closer to 5' 2".
This, along with the old map posted earlier, indicate that the surviving rail corridor north of the creek between Trafford and North Braddock is a spur of the Pennsylvania Railroad, not the Pittsburgh Trolley. This also matches with the owners listed for the rail corridors: 376-E-395-0-2
is listed as the Pennsylvania RR Company, the next down stream is 642-N-398-0-1
, owned by Conrail, the heir to the PA RR and other freight lines that went bankrupt. Interestingly, these two parcels were both assessed around $2000/acre, which is about the same as the assessment of 642-N-398
, which is one of the sections of the Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad purchased for the section of the Turtle Creek Greenway now under construction.
That's an interesting find, of historical interest at least. On page 33 it says:
The Westmoreland County Bureau of Parks has recently received PADCNR funding to conduct a feasibility study for the planned Saltsburg to Export to Trafford Rail Trail (Figure 12). This 17-mile proposed rail trail corridor would connect the Beaver Run Reservoir Greenway to the Conemaugh River Greenway Trail System. Other trails proposed by the Westmoreland County Bureau of Parks include the Tinkers Run Trail and the Manor to Claridge Trail (Figure 12). In Allegheny County, the proposed Monroeville Bikeway and Forbes Trail (Trafford to the Monongahela River) are under study (Figure 12).
So the trail between Saltsburg and Trafford that Westmoreland County began feasibility studies of around 2002 is now more than half built!
And here's a piece of figure 12 from page 122:
Dashed red shows proposed trail. Yes, it appears this proposed route has the trail crossing from right bank to left bank in Wilmerding. If you did that you'd have to cross back before Edgar Thomson Works, probably. The proposed trail up Thompson Run toward Monroeville Mall is also interesting. If the Mon-Fayette Expressway (gag) is extended up that valley then maybe we can get a freeway-with-trail there. The map shows a spur from Murrysville toward Boyce Park. That would be nice.
Yes, I think the bank crossing is an issue downstream, since without crossing back the trail seems to dead end when it gets to the Monongahela river. Staying on the right bank appears to be the more straight-forward way to go. This route includes a long section of surviving railroad track behind the old Westinghouse factory. The tracks once lead to Trafford, but now dead-end in Turtle Creek. I wanted to find out who owns the track and if it is still used, and this is what I came up with:
It is owned by the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The track has not been used since the 1980s. And here's the big one: in late 2014 Allegheny spent $365,000 to re-build the last 1/4 mile of this unused, dead-end track. WTAE reported on this.
This number blows my mind. The parcel that it sits on is assessed at only $39,700
. The co-owned parcels farther down the line are $7,700
, respectively. Our running total so far is $92,400. If we don't even double it to $180,200, we can throw in the PA RR and Conrail parcels mentioned in earlier posts, plus a vacant USS lot
which would make a nice trailhead with room for parking
I know that purchase costs can exceed assessed values and that there are always closing costs and such, and I know this represents a rather rosy scenario. But if the county could buy out not just one plot of land, but all of the plots in the entire 6.1 mile corridor from right next to Trafford to right next to Braddock...why did they spend twice as much money to repair the tracks on an unused, dead-end rail section whose best possible use involves having its tracks removed again to become a rail-trail?
For those who haven't heard yet, last week it was announced that Westmoreland County would be getting an additional $1million dollar grant from PennDOT
for the construction of the 3.4 miles of the trail from Murrysville to Export. No word yet on when major construction on this section is expected to begin.
Work on the three bridges in this section is being funded by donations and done by volunteers, so they already have a head start. The old deck on the bridge behind Hoss's was removed last year. As of new year's day most of the first structural layer of the new deck was already in place.
MattK and others:
Deborah Brown and representatives of Braddock, Rankin, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and Turtle Creek, and interested people are meeting to discuss bike lanes or trails between their communities. The meeting will be
Braddock Borough Building, 415 Sixth Street, Braddock, PA 15104
at 5pm, Tuesday February 7
Feasibility study to develop a bicycle route through The Boroughs of Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Rankin and Turtle Creek
"The Braddock Borough in Partnership with four other neighboring Boroughs will acquire a consultant or engineering firm to explore the feasibility of designing and developing a bicycle and walking trail through Boroughs of Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh and Turtle Creek. There is a bike trail already coming across the Rankin Bridge and it seems that continuing through these Boroughs (Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh and Turtle Creek) would be a natural progression."
Thanks for the update, Paul. I can't be in Pittsburgh at the moment, but I've passed word of the meeting along...I hope good things will come of it.
If you or anyone here happens to go, please let us know if someone brings up the unused railroad track owned by the RIDC. As stated above, if that were turned into a bike path, one could ride from East Pittsburgh all the way to Wilmerding, right next to the creek, without crossing a single street with cars. There would be some unique viewing opportunities of the old Westinghouse flood gate as well.
Also of interest for this meeting, would be a trail (similar in width etc. to existing trail at wilkinsburg portion of the busway) along an extension of the East Busway.
Also of interest would be the existing Airbrake Ave. walking trail, or an expansion/widening thereof.
Together with the old rail rights-of-way mentioned by @MattK and others on this thread, this can create a near-completely off road trail between the Point and Trafford.
Connections from such an off-road trail to bike lanes in adjacent municipalities, in particular Turtle Creek and Braddock who have already expressed interest in this, would provide a very useful connection, for both trail users and the municipal entities.
The off-road character would make this trail friendly and safe for anyone, including children, the elderly, those with physical disablilities, and those who just do not like riding on streets with motor traffic.
The on-road bike lanes and connections between those and an offroad trail would help provide business to the municipalities along the route, and would provide trail users with amenities.
for a map of these proposals.
Here are some interesting articles
about the rail right-of-way the Westmoreland Heritage Trail follows, especially about the Export to Delmont sections.
A synopsis of this evening's meeting of the five-boroughs'-bike-planning-group:
- Attending were people from Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Rankin, Glenn Engineering, and me (Steel Valley Trail Council). Most of the others were "municipal government people" more than "cyclists" (if I'm forced to pigeonhole). Deborah Brown of Braddock led the meeting.
- A request for proposals inviting engineering companies to bid on doing a feasibility study for bike lanes and trails in Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek, and Rankin was sent to 8 companies. Proposals are due at the end of this month, after which a company will be selected. The study will be completed by late summer.
- We need to come up with a name; for now I'll call it "the group".
- It appears to me that the group should rough out a few route ideas to give the engineers guidance. Surely, the borough folks know their boroughs better than the engineers. We tossed around some route ideas:
- Braddock Ave is the spine route, for cars, but because taking away car parking was an extremely unpopular idea, the consensus was that a road parallel to and close to Braddock, such as Woodlawn St (and/or Talbot Ave) would work better for bike lanes. On the positive side, Woodlawn would be much safer than Braddock. On the negative side, Woodlawn is not the main street, so less business access.
- B&O Railroad used to run parallel (where Halket St is today) but too much of that land has been sold off to permit a trail to be built along the old railroad land.
- Parts of North Braddock and East Pittsburgh are way up the hill. Library St and Bell Ave were discussed, as was an abandoned and overgrown road called Keller Rd & Township Rd, as additional bike routes. To get from East Pittsburgh toward the borough of Turtle Creek, Linden Ave is the obvious route.
- We didn't get around to talking about possible bike trails (as opposed to lanes).
- We didn't talk about Rankin or Turtle Creek much.
- Who would use the bike lanes? We might guess a 50-50 mix of commuters (to job, to shopping) and recreational cyclists.
- We talked about nearby developments beyond the group: Rankin Hot Metal Bridge (perhaps 10 years off), Carrie Furnace Trail (several years off), Turtle Creek Trail Trail from Trafford-Murrysville (this year).
- I suggested we do a casual bike ride along some of these routes soon, to inspect them, but that was met with some raised eyebrows, because some at the meeting haven't biked in years.
- We'd like to gather ideas from people that bike through this area frequently, both locals and long-distance cyclists (such as Jon).
- The next meeting is scheduled for Tue 3/7 at 6pm in East Pittsburgh. Others are invited.
Thanks, Paul. Your work on this and other issues in that area is a real and appreciated benefit to the biking community.
I sometimes ride home through Braddock on Braddock Ave. I rarely have any problem; the traffic is light and the road is fairly wide. But I see the benefit of using a parallel street for new cyclists. Looking at the map, it seems like Talbot is the better choice, since it's continuous through Braddock. I don't know about the surface, though.
I ride from Monroeville through Braddock using Braddock Ave. frequently but it's usually early on weekend mornings. Traffic is light, plenty of room and I've yet to have a problem. The couple of times I have ridden back through in the afternoons there is more traffic but still haven't had any issues. For me, a side street with stop signs every block is more of a nuisance then dealing with traffic and the less frequent red light. I know that only a fraction of cyclists use Strava but their "heat map" feature does provide some information (understanding that it may be biased towards recreational cycling) as to what roads are currently used.
I have to vehemently disagree with Icemanbb riding from Pittsburgh to Trafford on Braddock Ave.The road becomes extremely dangerous and dicey heading east when you get past State route 2183 with no lane and cars going past you at 50-60 mph!! I went on my own and had to turn around for fear of getting killed.I went a second time, with 3 other experienced road cyclists ,all of us having much angst and a very unpleasant ride.I tried getting off Braddock Ave,to go on 2183,but for some reason after going down that road a few hundred yards, it's fenced off and the road is blocked.Does anybody know the reason for this??
You're talking about where Braddock Ave turns into the Tri-Borough Expressway, right? There's a huge overbuilt concrete bridge and fast traffic. I don't like it either, but it's not that long, and I just go for it.
The only other way is to go up say Main St to Grandview, follow that around to Electric, then down Electric to the light at Braddock. Longer and hillier, and not necessarily that much nicer (the road is kind of narrow and IIRC there's not much shoulder), but at least you don't have really high speed traffic.
Yes Jonawebb,That's exactly where I am talking about,( heading towards the Tri-Borough Expressway).I came very close to getting killed there and I am an experienced road cyclist.Unless a sharrow with poles are put up, I will never go that way again.It's just not worth it by truly putting your life in danger
can't you just go Braddock -> Penn Ave Ext -> Airbrake -> Broadway and avoid the highway section?
There's a section under the Westinghouse Bridge that's closed off. I've tried to find a way around it, as have others. I don't think there's a way through, even if you're willing to go off-road and ignore no trespassing signs. There's a canal there that you end up on the wrong side of, and a rail yard.
BTW you can't get to Main St as I said; you'd have to go Braddock->O'Connell->Center I guess to Grandview.
To Edroline.........No,you can't get to Penn Avenue extension before first hitting the sketchy,harrowing part of Tri Borough Expressway .
It would be great if Route 2183 could somehow be opened to cyclists, to bypass the dangerous part of Braddock Avenue. Perhaps it could be something like the Montour Trail's airport connector, with a small gate to let through cyclists and keep out cars. I'd much rather see local governments working on that, addressing an actual problem, instead of putting bike lanes on streets like Talbot that are already very safe for bikes.
Wasn't the Triboro Expressway just redone in 2010? My guess is that they're not going to be willing to do anything to help, given the recent re-construction of the road.
Maybe Paul Heckbert and others can talk to Deborah Brown about installing a small opening through that fence, on 2183, to just allow cyclists or walkers through.
The issue of "Route 2183", which appears to be called "Braddock Ave" on some maps, came up on page 1 of this thread and is being discussed again for good reason. This is the choke point for every trail in the entire Turtle Creek watershed. All of the trails that follow the streams in the watershed will converge here, and unless they can get beyond the Westinghouse floodgate, there is no path to the GAP trail, and no path to Pittsburgh. It is critically important. I agree that long "up over and around" alternate routes are very impractical to cyclists, and the section of the Tri Boro Expressway that goes through here is a death trap for cyclists and pedestrians.
So that leaves us with the route under the flood gate, which is fenced-off. The only thing apparently inside the fence is the dead-end "Railroad to Nowhere" track mentioned on page 2 of this thread. Here's a visual: https://binged.it/2lmaz
The railroad goes through the gate, not much else does. There's no simple way around, since the gate is surrounded by a levee/flood wall, without which the flood gate would have always been useless (it's actually useless now, but that is due to neglect). The RIDC owns the Keystone commons
and the apparently unused railroad. That appears to be the key to the pathway through.
So for a first step, I agree that contacting our elected officials about this issue is a good idea. They are the ones with the authority to negotiate agreements and make things happen. We have to reach out to them,and let them know what needs to be done in order to make the community a better place. Finding a safe bicycle path through the TBE / flood gate choke point should, in my opinion, be the highest priority of the whole bike lanes / trails project being discussed. Without this, all trails built east of the Westinghouse bridge will be cut off from all of the trails to the west of it. We need to let the people in charge know how important this is, since bike trails / bike lanes are so much more effective when they are connected to one another.
I roughed out a map of the current bikeability of the desirable bike routes in the Braddock area. I used
green = good (safe and acceptable grade)
yellow = ok
red = bad (unsafe, poor surface, or too steep)
unmarked = low-demand routes
Link for zoomable google map: https://goo.gl/X0XciF
This is a work in progress. I've biked some of these roads only once. Click each route for a bit of discussion. Where have I misclassified the safety or desirability of a route? What am I missing?
Braddock past say O'Connell should definitely not be red, or at least not as red as between Electric and O'Connell. I'd call it yellow. It's not too bad IMHO.
We discussed the route through Braddock last night at the Squirrel Hill Bike Ped group. It sounds like, from people who have been there, that there is plenty of presently unused space near the river. If the fence at the Braddock Lock had an opening, and appropriate arrangements were made with Edgar Thompson Works and the railroad, it would be possible to have a path all the way through Braddock to Turtle Creek.
I'm not sure whether or not this would be possible given the need for negotiations, but in the physical sense it seems like a lot less development would be necessary in that routing than trying to connect via Braddock Road and bypassing the Tri-Boro Expressway bridge somehow.
From satellite photos, I don't see space for a trail at the confluence of Turtle Creek and the Monongahela River. Here's a 3D Google Maps view of that area from the south
On the road to Braddock lock & dam, you can get to within 1/2 mile of Turtle Creek before you hit a Keep Out sign, and from google it looks like that road dead-ends 1/4 mile from the creek, and the strip of land gets pinched down to nothing. Following Turtle Creek upstream, the railroad tracks around the perimeter of Edgar Thomson go right up to the steep banks of the creek. I don't see space for a trail here.
I think the best bet for an economical route into Turtle Creek Valley is Braddock Ave and Route 2183. I've never biked on the latter, but I see a fence across it in Google StreetView. Other than that fence, 2183 looks promising to me, as a bike route.
I see your point; I don't see how the connection to Turtle Creek is supposed to work otherwise. Though I'm pretty sure I'm remembering the conversation correctly.
After looking at the aerial view some more, I'm not sure 2183 will work. It runs from Braddock Avenue to a dead-end at some railroad tracks. MattK seemed to be suggesting upthread that this track was unused, but I'm no longer convinced that's true of the section in question.
There's a railcar visible in Bing here
. It's not visible in Google's aerial view, but railcars appear in different spots on that track if you look back over the years in Google Earth. The track there continues northward to the unused section
. Southward, it continues through the floodgate and past the place where 2183 dead-ends, to a big railyard.
So I think 2183 dead-ends at a railroad line that gets at least occasional traffic, connecting the former Westinghouse site (now called Keystone Commons
) to the railyard west of the 2183/Braddock Avenue intersection. I don't know how you'd fit a trail in there if the rail line's still in use.
Good Catch, Steven. I didn't see that before. perhaps some of the track is being used...
Here's the exact quote, from Paul Van Osdol's report on WTAE
"TURTLE CREEK, Pa. —It's a railroad to nowhere, financed by taxpayers.
Action News Investigates has learned Allegheny County is spending $365,000 replacing a railroad track that has not been used in three decades and will not be used anytime soon.
The new track will run about a quarter-mile between two sections of unused track.
A local historian says no trains have run on this line since the 1980s when the nearby Westinghouse plant was still active."
Is it possible that the upstream part of the track is unused, and the downstream active? If the downstream is active, how active is it? Whom do we ask about this? Would a "rail and trail" a possibility? Is the path through the floodgate and under the bridge wide enough for bikes and a train at the same time? If hypothetically we have to worry about a delivery train arriving once a month at 5mph, that is one issue to deal with. But I'd rather deal with than than constant 50mph cars on the Tri Boro Expressway.
Re the floodgate. I know it doesn't work anymore. But does that area still flood a lot?
BTW, I don't think this solves the problem, but I once followed a Heckbertish (i.e., illegal) route bypassing this section of the Tri-Boro Expressway. I made a map of the route here
The route starts at the parking lot next to Edgar Thompson works. I bicycled past there (heading west) one day and noticed they were having some sort of event. The gate there was open and a bunch of cars were parked in there. I entered and headed east through the lot, following the path I drew in on the map. It crosses 2183 and the dirt roads (at that point) marked as Flynn Way and Main St. Then passes under one railway bridge and across another railway bridge over Turtle Creek. You end up opposite "Value Added Processing" across Turtle Creek.
I suspect this path is less viable than the one through the closed Westinghouse Flood Gate fence because the railroad bridge across Turtle Creek is in use. And you end up in what I think is an active rail yard. I don't think there's a way out of there except by following Turtle Creek up to 2nd St.
But still, it's at least a physically connected path, given the open gate at Edgar Thompson works.
The triboro expressway reminds me of Freeport road between Hulton bridge and powers run. Way overbuilt for the capacity. I assume traffic on triboro expressway doesn't need highway standards.
Too bad when they rebuilt it they didn't make it into 1 lane each way, a road diet.
Any sense that the local pols could push through changing the road config for the expressway to one lane plus peds/bike each way?
Define "a lot". I would go down there after a one-inch-in-24-hours rain to see what routine high water looks like. We probably get 10 of those a year. But make sure to get down there to look at it after a really big storm.
Two flood gauges you can see online:
The railroad bridge over Turtle Creek on that Heckbertish route seems to be the one documented here. That mentions it once carried five tracks, but now only two. Seems like all that extra space might be usable for a bike trail, if it only went somewhere useful.
The detailed photos linked from that same page mention this in a photo caption:
Floodgates would also close former Braddock Av with street railway and Westinghouse Inter-Works Railway
The Westinghouse Inter-Works Railway seems to be the name of the abandoned line that continued from the Westinghouse plant out to Trafford.
The site also mentions that Mon-Fayette Expressway construction would remove the floodgates. The MFX could have a big influence on the available options for a bike path, if they build it through this area. (And not necessarily all negative. The MFX folks supposedly built a part of the Montour Trail that was near the new highway.)
If the downstream is active, how active is it? Whom do we ask about this?
Maybe the RIDC?
Let's try that again, this time with links and formatting not
The railroad bridge over Turtle Creek on that Heckbertish route seems to be the one documented here
. That mentions it once carried five tracks, but now only two. Seems like all that extra space might be usable for a bike trail, if it only went somewhere useful.
The detailed photos linked from that same page mention this in a photo caption:
Floodgates would also close former Braddock Av with street railway and Westinghouse Inter-Works Railway
The Westinghouse Inter-Works Railway seems to be the name of the abandoned line that continued from the Westinghouse plant out to Trafford.
The site also mentions that Mon-Fayette Expressway construction would remove the floodgates. The MFX could have a big influence on the available options for a bike path, if they build it through this area. (And not necessarily all negative. The MFX folks supposedly built a part of the Montour Trail that was near the new highway.)
If the downstream is active, how active is it? Whom do we ask about this?
Maybe the RIDC?
I think we're putting together some good ideas here. It's neat that online maps and photos enable us to do so without going out in the cold :)
The Westinghouse Floodgates
measure 80x30' (over the creek) and 40x20' (over RT 2183 + the dead-end RR). The loading gauge
for an American freight train is 10'8". If my math is right, a 10'8" train in the center of a 40' wide flood gate leaves 14'2" on each side for bikes to pass, which is plenty of room. The Heckbertish Railroad bridge cited above causes another narrow point due its supports, but it appears from the photo to be about as wide as the flood gate. So I'm optimistic that a trail could proceed through, even if it needs to share space with the (possibly) inactive railroad. It would however be better for us to replace the whole RR with a trail, since it would allow safe cycling from the Braddock steel mill to the Airbrake Walking Trail in Wilmerding without encountering a single stop sign.
As of August 2016, the Mon-Fayette Expressway is no longer headed into the city
. The north-south portion, however, is still in the works
. The overpass in Turtle Creek, ironically, will be over the same railroad-to-nowhere section that was recently rebuilt when the new Greensburg Pike bridge was built over it. I wonder if they'll have to rebuild the unused track again...
Pick up a copy of the 2/9 issue of the Valley Mirror newspaper (available at Giant Eagle in Edgewood Towne Centre, anyway, and at a number of other shops in Braddock, etc, undoubtedly) and you'll see an article by reporter Kristen Keleschenyi. It discusses the five-borough effort, and also includes the map I created of proposed trails on the right bank (the Braddock-and-Rankin side) of the Mon. The newspaper is not online.
Article that appeared in Thursday, February 9's Valley Mirror
(newspaper "serving the Steel Valley, West Mifflin, Lincoln Place, and Woodland Hills Communities of Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, East Pittsburgh, Forest Hills, North Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, and Wilkins Township"):
The article text is about the five-boroughs effort discussed earlier, mostly, but the pictures came from my related effort to promote a trail from Hazelwood to Braddock. Click pictures for more detail.
Back in the early 1990s when the Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad was still running, Port Authority had a plan to extend the East Busway out to Trafford. (From 1983 to 2004, it ended at Wilkinsburg.) That part of the project did not happen; the extension that did get built only went to the edge of Rankin. I had only recently gotten involved in transit advocacy, and was not thinking about this part of the proposal. It would be worth trying to dig up those plans to see how they proposed to fit a busway through that notch.
from the SPC describes a 2003 plan:
East Busway Extension: Swissvale to East Pittsburgh or Monroeville
Extension of the East Busway along Norfolk Southern right-of-way to East Pittsburgh, with the possibility of using Tri-Boro or Mon-Fayette Expressway into Monroeville.
I didn't find anything more detailed than that. Norfolk Southern crosses on that bridge that once held five tracks but now has just two.
Turtle Creek isn't very wide, only about 80 feet for the creek itself. If we could build a bridge there, we could use something like Jon's route. Unfortunately, it goes on the wrong side of those active Norfolk Southern tracks. We'd need to be between those tracks and Turtle Creek for a bridge to work.
Here's another possible route
. It starts with Route 2183. Then it uses an existing at-grade crossing of Norfolk Southern tracks, but one that's blocked off with Road Closed signs according to Google Street View. If that's still closed, it would need to be reopened for this route to work.
Then it uses space where Norfolk Southern once had a track to cross Turtle Creek and follow the creek up a bit, to a new 135 foot bridge to be built back across the creek, theoretically bypassing the section of former Westinghouse Inter-Works Railway that it appears is still in use. (I'm guessing about exactly which part is still active, of course.)
There's also an interesting abandoned single-track bridge running diagonally across Turtle Creek just a couple hundred yards downstream of the floodgate. We've already seen in Murrysville how amazingly quickly those bridges can get a new deck put on them when volunteers come together. That would be a way to the left bank that doesn't use the active NS bridge.
The issue is that the tracks on the left bank are very
active. Freight trains run into and through the Pitcairn intermodal terminal at seemingly all hours day and night. The Amtrak Pennsylvanian also runs passenger service on those tracks once daily to and from New York City via Philadelphia and Harrisburg. You can see in this video
just how tight the tracks are to the water in this area. Anyone interested in seeing where the old Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad used to merge into the tracks see the earlier video in the series at about 14:22
. Both of these videos put together give a pretty clear picture of what is going on over on the left bank of the creek.
If the Turtle Creek Trail needs volunteers. now or in the future, to help build the trail,I will be happy to volunteer!!
I visited Westinghouse Flood Gate yesterday. Wow, we need a bike trail through here - it's a very unique place! It's easier to reach from the east than from the west, because of the locked gate that others described. Route 2183 (which seems to be the Old Braddock Ave) has rusty rails down the middle of it. One could bike along here now, but if the rails were removed or buried, that would make this old road much better. If we and the boroughs can convince US Steel to put a 3 foot wide door in their gate, Route 2183 could become a bike route; possibly a life-saving one, since it would get cyclists off most of the divided highway portion of Braddock Ave.
Updated Braddock Bike Routes map: https://goo.gl/X0XciF
I put a gallery of photographs here: https://goo.gl/photos/2ALH2g3nrxN7yzNcA
One sample photo:
Nice pics. What road runs on that bridge?
That's Westinghouse Bridge, carrying Route 30.
Thanks for getting those photos, Paul. You saved me a trip :) Though I may head down there one of the next couple weekends just to satisfy my own curiosity.
As best I can tell from the http://www.lotstolove.org/
site you linked to (very useful, BTW), the land that the locked fence lies on is not
private property, but still part of the public road. The Union Railroad (owned by a company owned by US Steel apparently) owns much of the land to the north and west, while the RIDC owns some of the land to the south and east. The authority that owns the floodgates owns a bit too, and Norfolk Southern owns the large railroad overpass with the most active tracks in the area. But in between all of them remains un-parcelled land following what appears to be Old Braddock Ave, what google calls "2183". The map strongly implies this road remains public property, thus the public officials would have authority to re-open it at any time for any reason.
This should be brought up at the next meeting when the government officials are present. Getting this fence opened may involve little more than asking them to open it. It could be replaced with standard traffic restriction devices to allow pedestrians and bikes through, but keep cars out. Thus cars will be able to speed along with TBE without hitting cyclists, and cyclists will be able to cruise through the flood gate without worrying about hitting cars. Everybody is safer; everybody wins; it costs practically nothing to do, and it can be done immediately.
That B&W photo
looking up at the Westinghouse Bridge is so beautiful. It belongs in a frame in an art gallery.
FWIW, Allegheny County's real estate mapping website
says the northern part of 2183 where it runs next to the former Westinghouse plant is called Wilson Avenue. It shows no owner for any part of 2183, except for the section around the floodgates which belongs to TURTLE CREEK DIST FLOOD CONTROL AUTH.
I'm not sure which government entity (presumably) owns the parts that show no owner. Hopefully it's the county or the municipality, not PennDOT.
I was assuming that US Steel put up that gate, but it might be more complex than that. The gate protects the Edgar Thomson Works railyard from ne'er do wells, somewhat, but it may also have been someone in East Pittsburgh borough deciding that they didn't want cars sneaking down that old road (I imagine there was a lot of demand for detour routes during reconstruction of the divided portion of Braddock Ave a few years ago). At the March 7 meeting of the Five Boroughs group (6pm, in East Pittsburgh) I/we can ask about getting the gate opened for cyclists.
That would be so tremendous if that damn fence on 2183 could be opened!! It's presently blocking a safe route for many cyclists that live in the city to get to the start of the W.H.T. in Trafford !! Hopefully there will be a big turnout at the next meeting and this subject is brought up! When is the next meeting?? I plan to be there.
Just got my answer to the next meeting as I was writing! I will be there March 7th.
What is the address of Five boroughs group in East Pittsburgh??
This may be what you mean: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyway, it would be an excellent group to get in touch with.
There's also interest from the Squirrel Hill Bike-Ped group in making contact with these suburban groups.
I think things are starting to move in an interesting direction.
I also like what I see happening here. There seems to be a lot of support for connecting the trail from Rankin to Trafford (and other connections). The more people who support it, the more momentum it will get. Writing letters to public officials will be important, attending public meetings will be important as well, perhaps more so. Thank you to all who are contributing. I hope that getting that fence opened will be the first of a series of accomplishments...
With regard to fences and properties, there are two things to keep in mind: 1. The online maps might not accurately reflect the property lines, and 2. The position of the fences might not reflect the lines, either. It isn't at all unusual for a property owners to extend their fence significantly beyond their actual boundary. I counted no fewer than three instances where this is appears to be occurring along the right bank of the lower Turtle Creek waterway, i.e. the place where we'd like the trail to go. So don't be afraid to reach out to public officials and politely raise the possibility that a particular fence placement might be a little "over-the-line", especially when that encroachment blocks the safe path through for bikes and pedestrians.
Looking at the map I think the reason for that gate is to separate the Edgar Thompson works from any entry, as Paul implied. 2138 is fenced off from Edgar Thompson Works and if the gate blocking 2138 wasn't there it would be possible to go around the end of the fence and enter Edgar Thompson by following along the railroad next to Turtle Creek.
But it would be pretty easy to provide the same level of security by building a fence at that point across the railroad down to the creek (since the railroad isn't in use, anyway). And this would also prevent entry into Edgar Thompson from the east, which is open AFAICT from the industrial park where Value Added Processing sits.
I was assuming that US Steel put up that gate, but it might be more complex than that.
FWIW, the 2011 view of that gate on Google Street View shows two additional signs on that gate: "For access call plant protection 412-273-7000" and one that says "Warning: no trespassing, security patrolled" plus other text I can't make out. The phone number is indeed for US Steel.
But I suppose it's possible East Pittsburgh put up the fence and US Steel stuck their signs on it. (Maybe US Steel's signs are no longer there because somebody noticed it's public property on both sides of the fence?)
And this would also prevent entry into Edgar Thompson from the east, which is open AFAICT from the industrial park where Value Added Processing sits.
Yes, it seems odd to have a keep-out fence (as opposed to a fence to prevent through traffic) where both sides are accessible to the public.
Since it's now March, construction season is right around the corner...
"Groundbreaking Ceremony for Phase Three of the Turtle Creek Extension of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, 5.9 miles from Murrysville to Trafford Thursday, March 9, 2017 11:00 a.m., Rain or Shine Robert’s Parcel along the WHT in Murrysville, between the Fire Place Store and Airgas Supply along US Route 22 East
I figure most of us will be at work during the ceremony. But for those who can attend, please thank everyone who is working on this project.
I haven't jogged along this section of the trail for the past couple of months. I was scoping out the potential Lower Turtle Creek trail area instead :) I finally biked through the Westinghouse Floodgate, and I totally agree with Paul's impression. I was already convinced that the bike trail should run through here based on traffic and safety concerns. But now I'm also impressed with the beauty of the place. Amidst all the railroads, superhighways, and heavy industry, the path through the floodgate is amazingly peaceful. It could be the highlight of a bike trail from Trafford through Braddock.
As mentioned at http://localhost/message-board/topic/turtle-creek-rail-trail/page/3/#post-338165
Meeting regarding the Five Boroughs Multi-Community Trail System will be:
Tuesday March 7, 6pm
Old Senior Citizens Hall 700 Grandview Ave, East Pittsburgh, PA 15112
I can't make it this week, so I hope others with an interest in bike lanes and trails in the Braddock/North Braddock/Rankin/East Pittsburgh/Turtle Creek area attend. They need more people with knowledge of where the good bike routes are. They could use your help!
A facebook group was created for this project. Perhaps we should migrate some of this conversation over there: https://www.facebook.com/Multi-Community-Trail-System-992190900913796/
Unfortunately I'm stuck in Harrisburg this week, otherwise I'd be there. :( I did e-mail my support and suggestions to the Braddock manager. I'd much rather be there for the meeting in person, though.
Cycleguy, can you still make it? If anyone from this board could show up for the meeting, that could be extremely helpful. We've got quite a few people here with real, specific knowledge of the best routes through the area that the Five Boroughs group may not know about yet. And for anyone lurking out there who isn't quite ready to speak at a public meeting, simply showing up and indicating support for the project by your presence can really matter too.
On the subject of route ideas, I stumbled upon the Active Allegheny plan from 2010
. It looks like the engineers that wrote the plan already have some of the same basic ideas as we do (see the proposed "Monroeville Bikeway" and "Turtle Creek Trail" in the document). But there are some specific details that they have missed: the path through the floodgate, the railroad behind the Keystone Commons, the open-deck bridge going into Trafford. These are all really good ideas that need to be brought up for consideration.
@paulheckbert Your link points to another messageboard thread, not the facebook page (the text shown is right, but they hyperlink takes you to a bike-pgh.org thread).
here's the link again for convenience:
I will be there.
I will be at the meeting tonight.I googled the meetup place,(700 Grandview Avenue,East Pittsbutgh,Pa.) and did not see a commercial senior citizen building??Is this at a resident house???
The meeting is tomorrow, BTW. It looks like it's here
Sorry Jonahweb,I meant to say tomorrow.When I googled the address it showed me a house,instead of the picture you sent.I can now find it.
I'm hoping to make tonight's meeting too.
It was a good meeting last night, but a bit of a disappointing turnout, with only 10 people counting myself there.Another meeting is scheduled again later this month during a weekend,most likely March 26th. .Some Ideas were thrown around of the direction of how the trail will be constructed with an eventual vote from the people living in the 5 boroughs where the trail will be designed,(Rankin,Braddock,North Braddock,Turtle Creek and East Pittsburgh.The people not living in the 5 boroughs can still have some input,(even though they can't vote),by throwing around some of their ideas.When a final vote is made, and hopefully almost everyone will be in agreement,it will brought up to one of several engineering firms to see if the design of the trail is feasible.
I was more impressed than @cycleguy at the turnout: we had the mayor of East Pittsburgh and a borough manager from Braddock, who wrote the proposal and ran the meeting. This makes me think somewhat positively of Pennsylvania's system of extremely local government; imagine the mayor of Pittsburgh attending a meeting on a feasibility study for a bike trail. Still, there are five boroughs involved (Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and Turtle Creek) and only three were represented (Braddock, North Braddock, and East Pittsburgh). So there's an issue of what will happen with the boroughs that aren't attending.
The feasibility study was sent out for bids by Debby Brown, the borough manager from Braddock who ran the meeting and wrote the proposal. They have $40K for the feasibility study, and got bids from three or four engineering firms (EPD, Michael Baker, Passiac MTR, HRG). They have copies of the proposals but getting them out to us for review is a problem since they are paper copies. They will try to get digital copies by the 15th and have them to us for review by the 17th. The next meeting on the 26th will be to select the winner. 2-4 pm at the same place.
It would be great if Bike Pittsburgh could attend the meeting or at least review the proposals and get comments to one of us bikers (other cyclists there that I knew: Roy Weil, Steve Doerfler) for relay. Debby assumed I was from Bike Pittsburgh since I was wearing the Bike Pittsburgh jersey. I told her I'd try to put her in touch with them.
We talked a lot about routes through the area, including Rte 2183. The mayor of East Pittsburgh said that is a paper street which they sold to Keystone Commons. So it's not a public street anymore. But he said he knows people to talk to and we discussed getting a gate opened in the fence.
We also looked at Paul's map and discussed the dangerous Triborough Expressway connection and other routes. One of the things that was clear at the meeting is that East Pittsburgh and North Braddock aren't going to support a trail that only connects say Braddock to Rankin and Turtle Creek. (At the next meeting, comments will be taken from everyone, but only borough residents will be allowed to vote on the proposals.)
As I rode home from the meeting I was thinking about this issue and it occurred to me that traveling west from Turtle Creek, you eventually have to climb a hill. If you brave the Triborough Expressway and ride through Braddock you climb up to the Rankin Bridge. On the other hand, if you climb the hill and follow the route here
you avoid all the terror of the Triborough Expressway and have a safer route that takes you from Turtle Creek to a connection to the Rankin Bridge or east to Swissvale etc.
I think a route like this might be a viable way to go for cyclists. It may well be what the boroughs have in mind -- parts of the route were mentioned (the Braddock connection would be uphill, through 6th St etc.) One of the problem with this route is that it's tricky to follow since there are one way streets and bridges you have to cross. If you get on the wrong street you can find yourself at a dead end. So the boroughs could make this a lot more bike friendly with bike lanes etc.
Thanks to everyone who attended!
So if I read that right, the next meeting is Sunday, March 26th from 2-4 at the same place? I'll be there, then! The Murrysville March for Parks
is the day before, so it the timing works out well.
On that subject, do you know if the 5 boroughs group has been in contact with the Westmoreland Heritage Trail folks? They probably have some good experience to share on how to get trails from the drawing board to reality.
I don't know that. They seem to be in touch with the Steel Valley Trail Council, though.
FWIW, the impression I got about who would be choosing the engineering firm to do the feasibility study was slightly different. I thought they were saying that the elected representatives from each borough would be voting on this selection (as opposed to anyone who shows up at the next meeting and is a resident of one of those boroughs).
Of course, anyone from anywhere was welcome to offer comments on which engineering firm, or what they should be looking at. But the actual picking of the firm would be up to the elected reps.
Another monkey wrench which may cause problems of the construction and direction of the Turtle Creek trail, brought up last night, was the Mon Fayette Expressway extension "supposedly" and "eventually" going through the area,(East Pittsburgh and Turtle Creek) where the bicycle trail is to be built. I've been hearing the Expressway extension rumor for at least 30 years,but a couple people at the meetup said it's no longer hearsay and it's definitely suppose to happen "soon".The meaning of "soon" is so ambiguous and I still have my doubts of the extension ever happening.I'm just hoping we don't have to wait until the Mon Fayette extension is to be built first, before we complete the bicycle trail.That could add many more years of waiting.
There's some info on the Mon-Fay in an article I posted a link to in this
They're saying the thing won't be built until 2036, so no immediate worries.
Won't be complete until 2036. That could mean 18 years in the construction stage, tearing down homes and wrecking communities, before they get to the recrimination stage when they notice so few people are using their $2 billion highway to Monroeville. (Of course, long-term projects often wind up getting their funds reallocated for more immediate needs, so it might take much longer than 18 years.)
Deborah Brown is on the Board of Directors of the Steel Valley Council.
There's an abandoned railroad bed that starts near Greensburg and ends near Sutersville. It's approximately 14 miles long. I'd love to see that built. Most of the property is owned by the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County and other governmental agencies. I'm not sure how these get built and would be willing to be part of the process.
Selling point: Direct connection from Greensburg to the GAP Trail.
I've hiked bits of it, and if it's the same one I'm thinking of, it passes through the hamlet of Arona. I can remember crossing actual rails in the pavement at Arona Rd when I lived out there, so I'm guessing it's been gone for 40 or so years.
Biggest problems with that AFAIK are Toll 66 and the Westinghouse Waltz Mill plant, both of which bisected it. The latter is likely what caused the rail line to be shut down at all.
Go to Google Maps and zoom in all the way to see the cadastral lines (property lines). It's easy to see where the rail lines were.
Link to Tracks
. I found the land owners using Westmoreland County's tax map tool. Most of the land is owned by Hempfield Twp Mun Auth, Hempfield Sch Dist, Consolidated Gas Trans, Corp, Ciarimboli, etat (I assume a family) & Arona Borough. I contacted the Westmoreland County Rec Dept and their hands are full w/ the trail connecting Murrysville and Trafford. He told me to contact Hempfield Township. I contacted the Hempfield Twp manager and he told me to contact the county rec dept (nice full circle). A second contact to the county rec manager was pretty good. He gave me some ideas. I contacted the local Boy Scout Troop to see if an Eagle Scout candidate would be interested in helping get this rolling, no response. The next township meeting is the 28th. I may go there just to put a bug in their ear.
The area near 66 can easily be moved to roads. There's a bit of traffic at 136 and Millersdale. The detour would be short, maybe 300 yards or so. The trail doesn't hit Waltz Mill, it heads the opposite direction.
Not only would the connection to the GAP be a great selling point, but taking cycling traffic off 136 would be beneficial. There are a few large neighborhoods along the trail that would benefit from a walking/cycling trail even if only contained within the township.
Fascinating site, thank you for finding it. Do you have a link to the Westmoreland tax map tool, as well?
I may have another source of help, but it might take me a few weeks to set up the right conversations. Keep me in the loop with what you find out.
My own property in Hempfield is a couple miles south of this, so would not be all that useful without transporting the bikes to a parking lot at a trailhead, but it would sure be nice to have the option.
Mapping Site: https://www.wcgis.us/apps/public/
I had to fiddle w/ it a bit to find the information.
Use this form if you cannot remember what you owe! http://westmorelandweb400.us:8088/CGI-BIN/LANSAWEB?PROCFUN+EGSREAL+RPS01+PRD+ENG
Here's a 2004 document from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
regarding the TCKR where Phase III of the WHT is being built. They give a nice rundown of the history of the Turtle Creek Valley Railroad. The report downplays the historical significance of the railroad to the development of the region. There were some cool photos and leads to more info, though, including mentions of the Westinghouse works...
The video gives more clues about where the Westinghouse Interworks Rail Road ran in 1904
. Look carefully for a possible hint about the Pittsburg Trolley route as well.
Just a friendly reminder of the upcoming Turtle Creek Bicycle meeting this Sunday from 2-4 PM at East Pittsburgh,(700 Grandview Avenue).Let's hope for a nice turnout and show our support.I plan on being there.
@cycleguy: are the bids from the companies available online? I'd like to look at them before tomorrow's meeting.
Minutes from the previous meeting (which I missed):
Tuesday March 7, 2017 Bike Trail Meeting
The Firms that responded and previous projects/involvement:
EPD (Braddock Housing study)
Michael Baker (downtown, waterway by strip)
Pasick (Steel Valley Council)
*Landscape Architects, received Monday March 13, 2017 as they were granted an extended deadline
Discussion of potential trail locations and other related info:
Old Braddock 2183 (gated on Keystone Commons’ private property) this location has been identified as a prime connector
East Pgh Mayor Payne will reach out and make contact
Maria Cruz will ask Hannah for assistance
Brinton Rd is a great connector for Swissvale
The Hot Metal Bridge (Rankin, Whitaker) currently has studies being conducted, projected $30 million
County is establishing trails in Carrie Furnace area, want to connect Glenwood Bridge, Duck Hollow
Wilmerding trail may be able to meet East Pittsburgh
PA 43 connection
Consider binding agreements with businesses and landowners that allow us to share/use land if not buy
Danger zones and statistics can be found via PENNDOT however, information may skew to show some roads as “safe” because cyclists already know they are danger zones and steer clear. We must double check the criteria used.
Easy levels and existing trails can be found via Bike Pgh
Mike Boyd, Wilkins
Squirrell Hill bike group
Surveys (one link shared across the boroughs)
Dangerous areas to avoid and why
Great existing makeshift passages to build on
Nice landmarks, pit stops, and other cool points to include or get near
Include an editable map
Takeaways and Assignments:
Community input meetings will be planned with the help of the selected firm. Start brainstorming locations and other details for your municipality
Locate statistics for pedestrian and cyclist injury and death for your municipality
Find bike/trail/health advocates in your borough and engage them
Find other initiatives- as the busway is expanding we can try to push and include a trail
The next meeting is Sunday March 26, 2017 2:00pm-4:00pm at Old Senior Citizens Hall 700 Grandview Ave, East Pittsburgh, PA 15112
*we do not anticipate using the entire two hours*
The decision will ultimately be made by the Boroughs however, the participation and assistance of advocates, cyclists, and other stakeholders is greatly appreciated and used in consideration!
I received the bid documents (PDFs) so if anyone else would like to see them, PM me.
Hi Paul..........If the bids from the various companies are available online,I did not see it.I tried to search for the bids,but maybe they will be available online in the near future.I'm sure we will find out more information tomorrow.Looking forward to meeting you and many other Turtle Creek advocates at tomorrow's meeting.
@cycleguy: send me a private message with your email address and I could email you the bid PDFs
Here’s a little update from the March for Parks weekend:
The March in Murrysville was well-attended. There were a few hundred there, by my estimation. Phase 3 of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail was front-and-center at the event. Maps and photos of the progress were posted on the walls, and I went to check a bit of it out myself that afternoon and during my run that evening.
In Murrysville the Roberts parcel is starting to get properly torn up. A swath of woods was bulldozed from that into Duff Park, primarily so that the sewer line could be run for the restrooms that are to be built there. It will also serve as a connection between the main rail trail being built and the existing smaller trails in the park.
In Monroeville the bridge work has been most impressive. The two long ballast deck bridges are being worked on simultaneously. Both appeared ready for the concrete pour to repair their curbs. The short open deck bridge over Simpson Run is even further along; it is essentially finished and usable. It got a new wooden deck in the same fashion as the bridge in Murrysville near Trafford Road. There is also something going on at the Saunders Station Parking lot, as there is some heavy equipment parked there with some plastic pipes that are generally used for drainage work. I know they plan on expanding and resurfacing this lot soon.
In Penn Township the heavy equipment is out on the trail. Rollers are leveling the subsurface in preparation to receive the top layer. On the Trafford end not much has happened yet, though you can tell this is where the equipment is entering the trail. It looks like the leveling is proceeding from Penn toward Trafford.
Can’t wait for the fall when it’s all done. And by all done, I mean this section. Phase 4 appears to be funded and in the design phase…
Summary of meeting of Braddock & five boroughs bike lane group, East Pittsburgh, Sun. 3/26.
13 people attended.
from the five boroughs directly involved:
- 4 from Braddock (including borough manager Deborah Brown)
- 2 from East Pittsburgh (mayor and one borough councilmember!)
- 0 from Rankin - disappointing
- 1 from North Braddock (borough councilmember)
- 0 from Turtle Creek - disappointing
from outside boroughs:
- 4 from Squirrel Hill/Edgewood (jonawebb, cycleguy, Roy Weil, me)
- 2 from Monroeville/Murrysville (MattK, Betsy)
- 0 from Wilmerding/Wall/Pitcairn/Trafford - unfortunate
The main purpose of the meeting was to review the five bids from engineering companies to do a feasibility study of bike lanes and trails among the five boroughs. We selected our first and second choices. I won’t name them here because Deborah has some small questions for them before finalizing the selection.
We discussed routes some. I proposed that we think of two east-west routes: the low route and the high route.
The low route would be on or close to Braddock Ave between Rankin and Turtle Creek borough. Tentatively, perhaps use Talbot Ave and Woodlawn to bypass most of the Braddock business district. To bypass the dangerous Tri Boro Expressway portion of Braddock Ave, several of us strongly recommended Route 2183 (Old Braddock Ave). That’s blocked by a locked gate, as noted previously. Mayor Payne of East Pittsburgh says Keystone Commons owns that road and they’re the ones whose approval we would need to open the gate. A possible issue is liability concerns about the Westinghouse Flood Gate, through which the road passes.
The high route (starting in Swissvale) is roughly Woodstock Ave (to North Braddock), and Hawkins and Bell (to E. Pgh), and Linden and Braddock (to Turtle Creek). This high route gets less traffic than the low route, but it’s hillier. The turns will require signage.
It was a good meeting.
The next meeting will be perhaps 4/3 or 4/12
, with the engineering company representatives present, so we can explain to them what we’re looking for.
The next meeting appears to be scheduled for
Thursday April 13, 2017 at 6:00pm.
I can't attend; there is a conflict with the Squirrel Hill Bike-Ped meeting. I hope other cyclists show up. This is the first meeting with the chosen contractor.
I'll be there at the meeting on Thursday. I'm reading more about the traffic pattern and the real-estate situation around the Westinghouse Floodgate. Of course I'm typing something up on it...
One question I have for those who attended the first two meetings: Did the RIDC submit any paperwork demonstrating ownership of the locked fence and the road through the floodgate? If so, when was the purchase made, from whom was it made and for how much? Neither PennDOT nor Allegheny County's records that I've found so far give any mention of the RIDC owning the road. Even the RIDC's own website
visually implies that they own the railroad parcels, but not Old Bradock Ave / Rt 2183 / S Main St itself.
They own the railroad
, I do not dispute that, but the road
is another matter of which I am not yet convinced. If any of you have seen proof, or know of where to find proof, please let me know. In a matter of this importance, I think we should know for sure who owns what.
Reminder: Thursday April 13, 2017 at 6:00pm there will be a five-borough bike lane planning meeting at the Old Senior Citizens Center, 700 Grandview Ave, East Pittsburgh, PA 15112. The five boroughs are Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and Turtle Creek. John Buerkle from Pashek (engineering company selected to do a feasibility study) will be joining us for the meeting. I understand that one purpose of this meeting is for the community to tell Pashek our preferences for bike lanes. People not from those boroughs are welcome to attend.
"Mr. Fitzgerald said he believes improvements such as extending the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway from Swissvale to Turtle Creek and expanding existing roads in that area would provide faster, more economically efficient improvements in the Mon Valley.
If the Busway is extended from Swissvale to Turtle Creek, hopefully we can make room for a bike lane(s)--at least for that piece of the Busway.
A quick synopsis of yesterday's meeting in East Pittsburgh:
19 people attended (biggest turnout yet). It was a short meeting (allowing people to leave early for Mass). John Buerkle of Pashek Associates, the company doing the feasibility study between now and November, led the discussion, inviting attendees to say what they're looking for from the bike lanes and trails that are built.
Common responses were: we want connections among the boroughs; we want connections to nearby trails (e.g. GAP and Turtle Creek Rail Trail); we want safety; we were glad to be invited, our borough is often left out; help local businesses; encourage biking and walking, our citizens need better fitness; this is a good chance for the boroughs to work together.
The selection of Pashek to do this work (from among five bids) looks good: Buerkle brought up most of the important issues on his own: novice cyclists are anxious near cars; the steep hills on some roads will intimidate many who don't have an ebike; we need to create a good base-map that shows shops, schools, bus stops; we need a list of people to talk to (schools, US Steel, police, bike groups, Rich Fitzgerald, ...); we should promote park-and-ride-with-bike.
Next meeting will be Wed 5/17 6pm, Braddock Carnegie Library, 419 Library St, Braddock.
MattK and I are leading an exploration-by-bike tomorrow morning of possible future bike routes in the Turtle Creek Valley. I'd like to visit:
- Westinghouse Flood Gate (at west end of valley)
- existing short bike trail in Wilmerding
- abandoned railroad in Pitcairn
- see current construction of Turtle Creek Rail Trail in Trafford (at east end of valley)
This is not a long ride, but be prepared for a lot of on-and-off the bikes. I'm guessing we'll be doing a mix of: biking on roads, biking on gravel, biking on dirt paths, walking through weeds, walking bikes on ballast or RR ties, photographing derelict industrial structures.
Where: parking lot at Braddock Ave & Beech Ave in East Pittsburgh
, lat&lon 40.3998453,-79.8346092, https://goo.gl/maps/ttAhHBFjFst
When: Sat 4/15 9am
email me please if you think you might come: email@example.com
I gathered a lot of video on this excursion and am processing it now. I plan to upload it with as little editing as possible to capture as much a sense of time to travel between spots as to allow the knowledgeable on the ride to explain what's up in each spot. Both front and rear cameras worked well, so there's a lot to go through.
In brief we visited the Westinghouse flood gate, the fence blocking Rt 2183, the Keystone Commons railway, reclaimable right-of-way through Turtle Creek, and a park and paved walkway reclaimed from dead space in Wilmerding.
My cameras quit after this, but we explored through Pitcairn and on into Trafford. Then we biked the as-yet-unopened trail to the edge of Murrysville. Amazing how much use it's already getting, closed, which gives hope to how much benefit a trail could be in the areas we hope to establish one.
The video playlist is at this link
. As I write this, I have about the first hour processed, and will add to it as time permits.
It might be better to leave any comments on this thread rather than on the videos, as I may need to replace or delete individual videos. Just reference "front video #2 at the five-minute mark", or some such. Note that the clock time on the front vids is correct, but the rear cam is an hour slow. (Sorry, one of the clocks I forgot to adjust for daylight savings time.)
All eight front-facing and 13 rear-facing videos are now uploaded. Apologies to all I should have communicated with during the week. I'd like to make a blog post about the adventure but I fear it won't happen.
Many thanks to @MattK and @paulheckbert for putting this together, and @cycleguy and [sorry, I didn't get Don's board name, if he has one] for joining the ride. I wish we could have had more!
I changed the privacy settings on the playlist from public to unlisted. I believe everyone can still access them, but you will need to go to the playlist link first, two posts up. Nebby fingers too willing to start sharing them all over tarnation. Not naming names here, but his name has come up before.
RE: State Route 2183 AKA Old Braddock Ave AKA S Main St.
After talking with some rather patient and knowledgeable people at PennDOT, I think we know just a little more about this road now. In summary, only the "ramp" portion of the road is a state route, i.e. only the portion which leads to the triboro expressway, another state road. The portion blocked by the fence is not owned by PennDOT, and apparently never was.
So referring to the path through the floodgate as SR 2183 appears to be incorrect, and the great Google map is wrong. "S Main St" appears as the name in modern databases, and older maps refer to the road as "Braddock Ave", so "Old Braddock Ave" may also be a proper moniker.
I still haven't found the documents saying who owns it, when they bought it, and how much they paid for it. The only thing we know for certain is that it isn't PennDOT.
Next "five boroughs" meeting will be tomorrow, Wed 5/17 6pm, Braddock Carnegie Library, 419 Library St, Braddock.
Unfortunately I cannot make it to the Pittsburgh area this time. I hope that some of you who took the ride with me a few weeks ago can show up and represent us. We all saw that empty land that has so much potential: the linear vacant lot next to USS, the needlessly blockaded old road through the floodgate, the rusting railroad behind the Keystone Commons, the dilapidated '50s era parking lot straddling Thompson Run... This unused land all could be so much more than it is now, and it could provide a safe alternative biking and walking route to the Triboro Expressway.
I really think we're making some progress on this. For those who can, please get to the meeting, and continue the dialog with the political leaders and the design team. We've put some good ideas out there, and the right people are listening. Thanks for all of your time, and keep up the good work!
I cannot; in fact I already had a conflict before this came up.
If anyone can make it, please take a look at my video series, linked above.
I can't either, because of the Ride of Silence. Bad timing.
I plan to attend. Let us know your suggestions, Jon & Stu & others that can't attend.
Point out the video I rolled. Invite others to review it. You may need to point them to this thread to get to the link which has the jumping-off point. (The videos are publicly accessible, but not linked.)
I cannot come. bad time I would have to take a frequently-stopping 61B Braddock-Swissvale bus from Braddock to Oakland and a crowded frequently-stopping 75 Ellsworth bus in the dark from Oakland to Aspinwall. After that, bike .25 mile to my house. By the way, how far is it to the P1 or P3 at Swissvale Station which I can take to/from East Liberty to the library?
From a peek at phase 3 of the WHT on Memorial Day weekend, construction appears to be progressing nicely. During the holiday pause in construction, I checked it out between the Trafford trail-head and MSA in Murrysville.
The grubbing phase appears to be complete, and a layer (or more) of stone has been laid down throughout. In Murrysville, Monroeville, and the last 1/2 mile in Trafford, the trail is actually quite smooth, and appears to be approaching finished condition. In Penn Twp and the rest of Trafford it is much bumpier having not reached the crushed and rolled phase quite yet.
The ballasted bridges to and from Monroeville now have new concrete curbs on them, but no railing as of yet. I suspect they are holding off on this until the heavy equipment work on the trail is completed.
As for road crossings and parking lots, a concrete ramp has been poured leading up to the Trafford Creamery. I also saw road construction signs going up on Forbes road...are they finally going to tear out the old tracks there? At the Saunders Station lot the retaining pond has been built, and much of the old parking area is closed as further construction is ongoing. The small diversion in the trail to facilitate better sight for the road crossing has also been completed there.
Construction of phase 3 of the trail is scheduled to wrap up by mid-August. It looks like they are well on their way to getting there.
Just joined Bike Pgh over the weekend during the Open Streets event. I've been creeping on this board for about 1 year now and finally decided to post this.
Very happy to see other people interested in developing a link between the TCRT and the GAP at the Waterfront. I live in Penn Township about 10 minutes from the Trailside Creamery in Trafford. I've looked at videos posted by Stu of the path between Carrie Furnace and Trafford. Even biked some sections of it in the last few weeks (last week I couldn't find how to get across the creek starting in Trafford onto the bank behind the bus depot though). I'm pretty geeked about trying to connect the TCRT trail to the GAP.
I've biked the TCRT many times before it was under construction and many times while it's under construction including twice last week. MattK provided a perfect summary of the construction progress.
So just thought I'd say "Hi".
@MattK What is MHT and MSA?
WHT=Westmoreland Heritage Trail
MSA=Mine Safety Appliances, which has a large building adjacent to that trail in Murrysville.
Thanks Stu, you beat me to it! :)
And Welcome, LeeS! It's great to see how excited people are about the trails, and how many people are getting good use out of them.
The bridge to the bank behind the bus depot is accessible from the Monroeville side if you follow the old railbed from behind the Shop-n-Save to behind the bus depot fence (the fence appears to be encroaching a bit on the rail bed, but you can still get by on it). The other way to that area is to follow the active NS tracks from Trafford over the Brush Creek Railroad bridge. I'm not encouraging too much of this however, as those tracks handle a lot of freight traffic...
The preferred route from Trafford to the bus area would be via another abandoned railroad bridge which can be seen by looking down from the Rt-130 bridge. (That bridge has no deck and is currently fenced-off, but accessible from the Allegheny county side if you're nimble enough and want to explore) From here we'd just have to negotiate a deal to run the trail either behind or in front of those parking lots, and onward behind the shopping center towards Pitcairn Park and westward towards the GAP. There are quite a few of us doing what we can to advance this idea. The political leaders seem very receptive to it, but we're very early in the process. At this point we're all just doing what we can to let our elected officials know that we love what they've done with the trail so far, and we want to keep the momentum going to extend it.
One more month until the scheduled end of major construction of phase 3 of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail!
From the western edge of the trail in Trafford through Simpson run in Monroeville what appears to be the top layer of limestone is down and level. East of Simpson run, no limestone quite yet, but the grubbing and base layer are complete all the way past Roberts Parcel. Also, the railroad tracks have finally been removed from Forbes Road and Trafford Road. Fencing has been installed along much of the trail.
The trail is looking better than ever, and the best is yet to come.
If the busway was extended to Turtle Creek, would the P1 also be extended on all trips?
Off topic, but likely yes. Not in this decade, guessing not in the next, either. If we want to talk busways, start a different thread.
For those interested, the new Frank Pavlovich pavilion will be dedicated on Thursday, July 13th at 6:00 PM. The pavilion is located on the WHT next to the route 819 crossing by St. Sylvester church in Slickville. There will be food. All are welcome. Details on the WHT Facebook page.
A meeting of the WHT group will immediately follow the dedication and picnic. I went to last month's meeting. It was really worth going. I think I counted about 34 in attendance. Pretty much all news about trail construction was good news. The only snag reported was that the bids for construction of the Roberts lot in Murrysville came in too high and had to be reworked and re-done.
The WHT group has gotten word about the "group of 5" meeting in East Pittsburgh and Braddock. They were extremely supportive of what is going on there, though I had to caution not to expect too much at this early stage in the process. We may get a trail, we may get bike lanes, we may get both, or we may get nothing....
I missed the May meeting in Braddock. Does anyone know how that went? Has another been scheduled yet?
Want to note that the proposed GAP-WHT (Westmoreland Heritage Trail) trail, together with the GAP, WHT (including the phase 3 and 4 Turtle Creek extenstions), West Penn Trail, and Ghost Town Trail, there would be an off-road trail, with only a couple small gaps, reaching over 80 miles to Ebensburg!
In other words, a GAP to WHT connector would essentialy extend the Trans Allegheny Trails westward to Point State Park.
Also, as far as a trail on the portion through RIDC Keystone Commons which retains its rails, perhaps the rails could be covered over with a boardwalk or similar for use as a trail, if RIDC wants to keep this rail connection easily usable without too much new work. Or perhaps a rail-with-trail can be made, if there's enough room?
By the way, thanks so much to all those who scouted out the old rights-of-way, and to @StuInMcCandless for posting the videos of the ride.
I'd be interested to see the RIDC's thoughts and ideas. Anything more than "no...go away!" would be very welcome. We need a safe path around the triboro expressway, and the RIDC pretty much owns all the land in the area, so we'll need to work with them somehow eventually.
As far as the route, I suggested behind the commons primarily because the route would hug the water. When you hug the water, you limit the possibility of car-bike / car-pedestrian collisions, since cars (usually) don't intentionally drive toward the water at high speed. It also means fewer stop signs, and often a more scenic route. As far as a "rail with trail" goes, it definitely seems plausible. During its peak the railway had 2 full sets of tracks all the way from behind the commons through the end of Turtle Creek borough. At the border of Wilmerding the tracks split, with the one that still exists heading across the bridge to WABCO and the other staying on the north bank en route to Trafford along the path where the Airbrake Walking Trail is now. This is the path we scouted earlier this year.
To see more, look it the maps from the year 1915 here: http://digital.library.pitt.edu/maps/hopkins.html
. It's a pretty fascinating glimpse back in time.
Maybe talk to Matthew Galluzzo at Lawrenceville Corporation
and/or Dave Breingan at Lawrenceville United
about working with RIDC? RIDC as I recall initially resisted, but eventually agreed to give space for a future trail extension through their recent project on Hatfield St near 47th in Central Lawrenceville. If you aren't already in touch with someone at RIDC, the Lawrenceville folks might be able to point you to the most effective people to talk to...
Thanks, buffalo buffalo. That could be some useful contact info at the right time. At this point, I'd rather leave it to the people leading the 5 boroughs group to decide when and how to reach out. I'm sure they know better than we do how to approach the matter through the appropriate channels at the appropriate time. It may still be too early...
I don't know what happened at the last meeting in Braddock, or when the next one will be. I'm also curious what kind of plans and drawings the architects are coming up with. I guess we'll find out in due time.
As for the eastern front, the limestone surfacing of the 5.9 miles between Trafford and Murrysville appears to be nearly done, if not done already. The asphalt sections near the road crossings still need done, as do some gates / bollards as well as signals and painted crosswalks for road crossings. Most of the fencing appears done, though the railings on the two ballast decked bridges across Turtle Creek still need to be put up.
The parking lot at Saunders Station has progressed quite a bit recently. They have the base about level now and appeared to be ready to pour concrete for the curbs. The smaller lot in Murrysville near the Haymaker gas well seems one step closer to completion, with its curbs in place. But for the Roberts lot, which had to be sent out for a re-bid, everything seems to be progressing perfectly.
It's getting so close to being done...counting down the days.
Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen (road cyclists' group) is biking the (approximate) Rough Diamond Route tomorrow, August 13, in a 101-mile ride.
They're not biking the Turtle Creek Rail Trail (which was supposed to be completed, about now, right?) but rather following roads from Trafford to Murrysville. I don't plan to go - these guys & gals are quite fast.
The construction deadline for phase 3 came...and went. :( All of the paving is done, both limestone and asphalt. All of the bollards and gates are also up as far as I can tell. All of the road paintings appear to be done, including crosswalks. Bike x-ing signs are up near all the major intersections, and Saunders Station Road even has rumble strips, at least on the Monroeville side that I drove on. Flashing warning lights are up at the Trafford Road crossing in Murrysville. I don't know if they will also be coming at Saunders Station or Forbes Road; these roads are heavily trafficked though not nearly as bad as the one in Murrysville.
The Urban Cos parking lot by the Trafford Creamery is nicely lined and ready to go, though I think they need to change some old signs as to not to implicitly threaten to tow away trail users. The re-construction of the Saunders Station lot on the western side of the road is nearly done; they just need lines painted, some signs, and a street light installed, I think. In the meantime the old gravel lot on the eastern side of the road overflows with trail users on the weekends. The new Carson Ave lot is partially paved and still a work in progress. Construction on Roberts lot, delayed by the need for a re-bid, appears to have just begun and is much further from completion than the others.
The only reason I can see for not ripping down the "trail closed" signs is the railing work on the ballasted bridges, which as of Sunday still had not begun, but for someone blocking off the Murrysville-Monroeville bridge with makeshift barriers. The barriers were promptly ignored by absolutely everyone on the trail; people who live in this neighborhood have been walking along the old railroad tracks for decades... Hopefully the delay with the railings will be resolved soon.
I asked Jeff Richards, Planning Coordinator for Westmoreland County Parks department, about completion of the trail between Trafford & Murrysville, and he wrote:
"The most significant remaining component that’s not yet installed, are the steel railings for the two long, concrete deck bridges over Turtle Creek. The Bridge Contractor tells us they plan to install the railings (which have been fabricated and galvanized) on the Penn-Mon Bridge early this week, and install railings on the second, Mon-Mur Bridge, shortly after. We won’t officially open the trail to the public until after these railings are installed, due to liability issues.
We’re also working to complete a new trailhead in Murrysville, at the Roberts Parcel by mid-September (with 32 parking spaces, a restroom and visitor center, with walkway connections north across Rte. 22 and south for direct access to the trail and Duff Park). After that’s substantially complete, we’ll have a grand opening and dedication of the Phase 3 project."
It looks like the railings on the bridges are up as of Wednesday. It's unfortunate that they got held up so long in manufacturing, but once they were delivered they seemed to go up in no time. (The WHT Facebook page broke the news, they are really keeping up to date on this as of late.) From their photos it looks like the Saunders Station lot is open too...or at least, people are parking in it. They also posted photos of many people riding the new trail.
I biked Turtle Creek Rail Trail (TCRT, part of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail) from Trafford to Murrysville on Saturday. The bridges looked done, the parking lot in Trafford is nice, but the parking lot in Murrysville near the Airgas Store that Jeff Richards wrote about (see above) is still under construction. We saw lots of people biking the trail, so I'd say it's effectively open now. Jeff emailed me "On Saturday, September 30, 2017, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM we are hosting our official Ribbon-Cutting Dedication/Celebration
. Please save the date, and spread the word. It will be a ‘rolling event’, starting at Roberts Parcel in Murrysville at 10, then a dedication at Saunders Station in Monroeville at about 11:15, followed by an event and festivities in Trafford around 12:30."
Note that the TCRT will also provide new access to Funk Bikeway, which is one of the existing trails in Duff Park. On this map http://www.murrysvilletrails.org/images/duff_park_trail_map.pdf
the railroad at the top is now the TCRT, and the short connector between TCRT and Funk Bikeway is right at the Roberts Parcel / Airgas Store access point.
One of the refurbished trail bridges on the TCRT:
They put in a crossing beacon where the trail crosses the road at Trafford Rd in Murrysville. The borough is maintaining it. I didn't look at it closely, but I think it senses the approach of a cyclist, then shows flashing red for the cyclist while it shows flashing yellow to the road. Whatever it did seemed to work, as I had cars stop for me - a pleasant surprise!
(click for uncropped picture)
Unfortunately, at the two other road crossings, Saunders Station Rd in Monroeville and Forbes Rd in Trafford, no beacons were put in. Jeff Richards tells me that he (County Parks Dept) requested one in Trafford, but the borough was not willing to do the necessary maintenance. Boo, Trafford! I think both of those roads need beacons, as cars travel pretty fast on them.
Thanks for the update, Paul. It's looking better than ever.
I'll be in town for the grand opening on the 30th. Is anyone else going?
If you're interested in bike lanes, pedestrian routes, and bike trails in boroughs near Braddock, come to the open house on Wednesday evening 9/20
Residents of Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek
Please attend & provide feedback on proposed recommendations for improving walking, bicycling & connections to public transportation in your communities.
2017 Active Transportation Plan Public Open House
September 20, 2017, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Turtle Creek Borough Building, 125 Monroeville Avenue, Turtle Creek, PA 15145
Minutes from the July meeting (which I missed) is a PDF page 5 of which is a detailed map of Pashek company's recommended active transportation route network, a snapshot of which I show below:
(discussion of a meeting on this effort in the Spring: http://localhost/message-board/topic/turtle-creek-rail-trail/page/5/#post-340678
Thanks, Paul. It is really awesome they're thinking along the same lines as we are, using the floodgate route to connect Braddock Ave to Turtle Creek, bypassing the Triborough Expressway. That would be a big advance for active transportation in that area.
I doubt I'll be able to attend the meeting; lots of conflicts. But if you or someone else goes please keep us informed.
I cannot make it.
Regarding the map that we'll see at the Sept. 20 open house:
Here's a sampling of their recommendations regarding cycling:
- on many roads, e.g. Braddock business district, road too narrow to create bike lanes, so no change other than sharrows
- 11th St, Braddock: bike lanes (two way for bikes, one way for cars & trucks)
- Braddock Ave east of 11th St (past Edgar Thomson Works): bidirectional protected bike lane
- Route 2183 through Westinghouse Flood Gate and RIDC property: rail trail (open gate, keep the tracks close to Turtle Creek, build trail alongside)
- Braddock Ave & Airbrake Ave in town of Turtle Creek: bike lanes
To my mind, Pashek chickened out of making bold recommendations in a few places where PennDOT is controlling bridges: Kenmawr Bridge in Rankin (to be rebuilt soon), Bell Ave bridge in North Braddock (to be rebuilt soon), and Rankin Bridge. The latter is quite important, since it's likely to be 10 years before Rankin Hot Metal Bridge opens to bikes.
I can't make the meeting (am out of town), but hope that as many of you as possible do make it. I also hope that some of the officials in the meeting attend the WHT grand opening on the 30th (I will be there for that one). It would be a good way to introduce more people from one group to the other, since they are working toward many common goals.
The most important good news I saw in Pashek Co's plans is the recognition of the importance of the route through the floodgate and the positive reception the plan has gotten from the county officials. Securing that safe route around the Triboro Expressway is absolutely critical to making this project work, and there don't seem to be any realistic alternatives to it. Pushing that part of the project through would be a major win for everyone involved.
The best original idea I saw was the "cycle track" concept next to the wall alongside US Steel. That would get us safely from the floodgate to the Braddock business district. Westward from there continuing the cycle track would be nice, but not as critical since there are multiple lightly trafficked east-west roads that cyclists may utilize in central Braddock.
The biggest "miss" that I see in the plans so far is not including a possible rail to trail (or rail with trail) over Thompson Run and under the Greensburg Pike bridge. This run-down and unused section of Turtle Creek borough has the potential to be turned into something like the Airbrake trail and playground in Wimerding and to even connect directly to it without having to take the trail on Airbrake ave itself (though honestly this isn't a bad road to bike on). But staying near the tracks and the water here would be even safer and would allow cyclists and pedestrians to pass under the Greensburg Pike traffic, rather than having to cross it at grade. Just as we did when we explored it earlier this year...: https://youtu.be/P6e22vBFKr0
I asked Jess Fegley at Pashek (who did a lot of the detail work on this proposal) "what about the Mon-Fayette Expressway?" and her response was basically "we haven't yet figured in that possibility; it looks like the MFE extension might not happen".
I hope she's right but I fear she's wrong. My attitude about the Mon-Fayette Expressway: as a cyclist and as a citizen I don't want the MFE extended to Monroeville because (1) it would hurt the town of Turtle Creek a lot by splitting it in two, (2) it would add a noisy, polluting flyover toll road without helping most of the communities it passes through due to lousy connections, (3) there's not much demand to drive from Monroeville to Jefferson Hills, (4) it would cost billions of dollars, (5) the money could be spent better on other projects, e.g. public transit, or fixing sewers & bridges.
But if it's going to be built, I want a catwalk for cyclists and pedestrians under the new bridge across the Mon, and a bike trail parallel to the MFE extension running from the GAP trail to Old William Penn Highway in Monroeville.
Turnout at the open house last night was disappointing: under 20 people. A few notes.
Kelley Kelley, Mayor of Turtle Creek, says the strip of land where Interworks railroad used to be, close to the creek, is owned by RIDC and the county. RIDC seems intent on holding onto it. Shelly Pie Pizza wanted to buy some of the land behind their property and RIDC wouldn't sell it. I think that land would make a better bike route than Airbrake Ave, which has lots of parked cars on it.
John Buerkle of Pashek says that keeping the officially-active-but-in-practice-inactive Interworks RR tracks through the Westinghouse Flood Gate is probably important to RIDC. Rail access is a selling point for Keystone Commons marketing. He suspects that letting cyclists use that route would be like letting the nose of the camel into the tent, to RIDC: it might be hard for RIDC to undo, in the future, if they determined that they needed to activate the rail line and close the bike trail. I pointed out that a bike trail there could save a cyclist's life, and that bike access could be a selling point for Keystone Commons.
Connection to the GAP: Pashek is thinking 10+ years out, and their ideal route is Rankin Hot Metal Bridge (currently closed, might cost $20 million to refurbish for bikes+ped+cars
). I reiterated the importance of and issues with Rankin Bridge:
- yes, Rankin Hot Metal Bridge will be wonderful, but it's many years off;
- even after RHMB opens, RB will be important to the bike network; every bridge is vital!
- residents of the five boroughs that want recreation/commuting via the GAP need bikes on RB;
- merchants of the five boroughs that want outside customers need bikes on RB;
- the bike lanes of Rankin Bridge are (currently) questionable because 837 is bike-hostile;
- sidewalk of Rankin Bridge is currently the best bike route across the Mon;
- Steel Valley Trail Council wants to build a Rankin Bridge Connector to the GAP, just south of RB.
Buerkle was resistant when I asked if the sidewalk connections to the Rankin Bridge at the Rankin end could be improved. He said that biking on a sidewalk is illegal. Not true, in general! PA law says that cycling on a sidewalk is legal except in a business district, or where a parallel bike lane is available.
My suggestion: the Rankin end of that bridge needs a redesign; it's currently horrible for pedestrians. It's ADA-hostile: there is no crosswalk for pedestrians trying to travel from north Rankin or Swissvale across the bridge, no curb cuts. The green line in picture should be made walkable. Do traffic calming. Put a crosswalk here. Put in curb cuts. The curved offramp and onramp to the bridge should be sharpened to be like the corner at an intersection, not like a freeway ramp! Add stop signs or a traffic signal. Cars will be held up at Hawkins Village or Woodstock Ave anyway, there's no need for 60 mph driving through here. A safe crosswalk would help pedestrians, handicapped, and cyclists.
Rankin end of Rankin Bridge: click for uncropped picture
Too bad about the turnout. But it seems like everybody decided to hold their meeting last night. I had four conflicting meetings to choose from, myself.
I'll address the attendance issue first.
This meeting wasn't announced on the group facebook site, as far as I know. I didn't hear of its existence until Paul posted it here, which helps those of us who follow this board regularly. Getting the word out early and often is important. Where and when is the next meeting? Does anyone know?
The informal invitation was to "Residents of Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek". This doesn't technically include me, or any of the other 200,000 current and recent residents of other boroughs in the Turtle Creek Watershed, to whom this project is also very important. There is a small army of volunteers in the eastern suburbs who would gladly show up, write letters, and support this project in any way we can. The WHT group has over 500 followers now, the older Murrysville trail alliance group has more than that, and with the opening of the trail on Saturday, momentum is only going to grow. A little more outreach could go a long way here.
Were all of the people who showed up in Turtle Creek invited to the trail opening this coming weekend? If not, they should be. It would be beneficial for everyone involved for Deborah Brown and Jeff Richards to meet and bounce ideas off of each other, if they haven't already. It would be great for the mayor of East Pittsburgh to shake hands with the Mayor of Trafford and say, hey we've got 5 miles of rail in between our towns that haven't regularly been used since 1962, let's re-make this connection with a trail.
In an earlier post
I hinted at the opening ceremony for 6 miles of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail (aka Turtle Creek Rail Trail) on Sat., Sept. 30:
Progressive Grand Opening Ceremonies & Ribbon Cuttings:
- 10:00 a.m.—Robert’s Trail Access in Murrysville between the Fire Place Store and Airgas Supply along US Route 22 East
- 11:15 a.m.—Saunder’s Station Trail Access in Monroeville
- 12:00 p.m.—Trafford Trail Access at the Parkside Creamery
click picture for uncropped
the opening ceremonies for the 6 mile section of trail (in a secluded wooded valley) are tomorrow. see above.
The Grand opening was a wonderful day. I'm guessing 100+ cyclists, and another 100+ who drove to one or more of the access points. The media showed up and interviewed some people; the politicians showed up and said the right things. The new parking lot and facilities at the Roberts parcel are very nice. The Heritage Trail Pale Ale was flavorful and not overly hoppy.
Many people were talking about what happens next in trail development. Phase 4 to Export will happen; there were hopes that the promised funds will come in on time and the bids will come in under budget, but until then they are not making any promises for 2018. A bridge from Valley Park in Monroeville to the trail is supposedly also in the works, and it seems to be an extremely good idea as it would provide direct trail access for those living in Alpine Village as water fountain and possible restroom access to trail users. It was a pleasant surprise to also hear a rather well thought-out idea for a short spur trail for hiking up Simpson Run towards the Beachwood Park (AKA Ramsey Park) area, as many more people live up there. I hope that gets traction as well.
Of course there was also talk of the connection to the GAP. I cringed a little every time I heard "it's only 4 more miles to get there", since the route once laid out will require perhaps twice the distance to follow all the bends in valley towards Rankin. But more info is getting out about what is going on in the boroughs along lower Turtle Creek. People in Trafford live at the eastern edge of the former Westinghouse Interworks Railway, they are starting to see its potential, and they want to get more involved in making good things happen.
The December meeting of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail group will be at 7:00PM on Thursday, Dec 14th at Rivertowne Brewing, 5578 Old William Penn Highway, Export, PA 15632. Recently released Strava heat maps already indicate this brewery is a popular destination for cyclists on the trail. Good to hear I'm not the only one :)
At the last meeting they indicated an intention to keep the business phase of the meeting a bit shorter than usual, to allow for a longer holiday party phase. Completion of phase 3 will be celebrated, and phase 4, which will go right past the brewery, is hopefully soon to come.
In news that came as a bit of a surprise to me, US Steel is looking to allow fracking next to its Edgar Thompson works in North Braddock. Why is this relevant? Not because of any pros / cons of fracking, but because of the proposed placement of the well pad. See here:
This is the empty plot of land onto which the proposed bikepath through the Westinghouse Floodgate would continue onto. (This is the path that would link the Westmoreland Heritage Trail with the Great Allegheny Passage, so it's quite important) We would not need this entire parcel, or even most of it...just the northernmost 10-14 feet (or however wide a bike path should be). This would be just enough to get us past the last couple hundred yards of the Triboro Expressway, west of which the Braddock ave slows down to two lanes, where a cycle track or bike lanes would be plausible. See: http://www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/Map.aspx?ParcelID=0376A00100000000&SearchType=0&CurrRow=0&SearchName=&SearchStreet=&SearchNum=&SearchMuni=&SearchParcel=&pin=0376A00100000000
Again, we'd only want a strip of land on the far northern edge of the property. There is almost certainly enough room for both a well pad and a bike trail. However, I think we should make sure that the powers that be hear our input before anything is built.
The next piece of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail is being planned. (These recent portions are sometimes called the Turtle Creek Rail Trail).
"A meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 8
at the Italian American Club on Kennedy Avenue, Export
. Mackin Engineering Co. of Findlay Township will present plans for the project, which are about 60 percent complete, said Jeff Richards, parks planning coordinator for Westmoreland County. The next phase of the trail will extend eastward from the Roberts trail access point off the eastbound side of Route 22 in Murrysville to Lincoln Avenue in Export." http://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/13216139-74/westmoreland-heritage-trail-expansion-plans-to-be-unveiled
I cannot attend this because there is no bus that goes there and it's too late in the evening unless I stay overnight.
Anything starting after 2:30 PM or before 11:30 AM regardless of location I cannot attend because I am rarely awake before 9:00 AM and going home in the rush hour or after dark is out of the question. In the Summer time, I will be able to attend later meetings because I can leave after 7:00PM and still have a little light to get home.
Perhaps the biggest item of interest in the phase 4 plans is the status of the routing of the trail around the parcels owned by the Cleveland Brothers Caterpillar place. They seem to be working on land use agreement which would essentially trade the rights for the railroad for the rights to the land behind the facility by the creek. As long as parcels of equal value are exchanged, this looks like a win-win for all parties involved.
What I am concerned about is the current status, which disproportionately disfavors trail users. Someone
has once again put up "Private Property No Trespassing Violators Will Be Prosecuted" signs right in the middle of the railbed, which is public property owned by Westmoreland County. This is not the first time someone has done this. Earlier such signs were promptly taken down after complaints were made in 2016. This most recent action represents someone doubling down on their earlier threats. It is part of a continuation of a series of unsavory behavior in this area, which began with the parking of heavy equipment directly in the middle of the public right of way in a very obvious effort to blockade trail users. This happened around the time when Westmoreland County opened the trail in its primitive state on a "use at your own risk" basis.
Now I can say with absolute certainty that the "safety card" has been and will continue to be played as part of someone's effort to, at least temporarily, assert total control over a tax payer owned path of land while currently offering us no land use in return. However, the only safety risks to current trail users are being caused by the equipment that has been intentionally parked on the trail which belongs to all of us.
Until a final agreement has been implemented and the trail is complete, riding through the old railbed remains the safest, most practical option for many trail users. It is certainly safer than riding alongside Route 22, which people have been during due to the threats of prosecution which are being made against them.
It appears that this issue needs to be raised more publicly. Final construction may not begin for another year or more. In the meantime, the public should be allowed the use of the land that we paid for, instead of being directed to risk our lives riding on a dangerous highway.
Signs are here. Spin around in the google street view to see the green "Property of Westmoreland County - use at your own risk" signs on one side of the road, and how they have been replaced with red "Private Property, No Trespassing, Violators Will be Prosecuted" signs on the other side. Notice also that the trail is getting used by people, which we have every right to do.
It would be a shame if anything happened to that equipment parked on public land. I'm not suggesting anyone do anything, but abandoned expensive equipment sometimes gets damaged by hooligans with nothing better to do. I hope that doesn't happen here.
It'd be easier to have a nice little trail hike with a staple puller.
There is a legal and appropriate way to deal with abandoned equipment on a public right of way. Which is to report it to the police, and have it ticketed and towed. I would consider this to be an option of last resort, however.
I am looking for people to take positive action, not to sink to the level of a bully. Let's be the good guys, here. Let's be the one's who work with the Westmoreland County officials for the greater good, not the ones who create a headache for them like the people who ripped the county's signs down and replaced them with their own...again. Let's work with the people who are working with us, by politely letting them know of our concerns, and looking for a positive solution.
Paul already posted the time and place for the next public meeting: 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Italian American Club on Kennedy Avenue, Export. There will be a certain time when they can ask for public input, at which time you just have to raise your hand for this section of the trail to be opened on an "use at your own risk" basis, just like all of the others have been. For reasoning, "because we paid for it", and "because nothing is perfectly safe, but it is safer than route 22" are very legitimate concerns to express. And if you're too shy to speak up at a meeting, it's still okay to wait around and politely approach the county officials there after the meeting, introduce yourself, shake hands, and say, "I like what you're doing, but I have these concerns..."
I've seen people riding, walking and enjoying the phase 4 extension. Not all of them are posting here, but some may be reading... This public meeting is your chance to meet the people making the trail happen, tell them how much you enjoy using it, and give your feedback on how it can be made better. Many will want to walk or ride the primitive phase 4 section during this interim period before major construction begins in late 2018 or 2019 , particularly once the weather gets better. Speak up now to ensure that we are allowed to.
I ride the unimproved Phase 4 pretty regularly starting in Trafford near at the ball fields. Usually I'm riding after work and by the time I reach Caterpillar (5:30pm or so), their gates are still open but they are probably winding down for the day. I usually just ride straight through their parking lot despite the no trespassing signs and come out at School Road. I am extremely cautious while cutting through. After all they'll have much lower visibility than me if they're moving that large equipment. So the onus for my safety is on me. Never had a single problem, not even a close call. I've probably done this a dozen times during the 2017 riding season.
One day back in Sept or Oct 2017, I was riding through the Caterpillar parking lot on a weekday in the middle of the afternoon, probably about 2:30pm (several hours earlier than normal). A guy comes running out of the office yelling at me that I'm trespassing and I can't cut through. Didn't get his name but he seemed as though he was one of the higher ranking people there. He was very firm that people can't cut through there, that it's private property, the fact there are signs, and they need to keep trail users out because it's a safety issue.
After he calmed down a bit, I began to talk to him about the trail coming through and what the plans are. I was curious to hear about it from his perspective. He indicated the plan is to route the trail behind the buildings and hug the creek -- same thing MattK said
. Side note: he did let me continue through there one last time.
Shortly after this incident, they put up signs and ropes across the trail, near the large brick digital sign near the Caterpillar entrance. Perhaps they were planning this already but the timing with my incident seems very coincidental. However, at no point have I encountered equipment parked across the trail but I haven't been through there in a few months. I'm guessing the equipment is parked across the section of trail that cuts through the Caterpillar property.
I also support taking the high road approach of engaging with Westmoreland county officials, attending public meetings, etc. to work toward a trail that benefits everyone and is achieved with agreement from all stakeholders. I will try to make it to the Feb 8th meeting but I'm doubtful right now (kid's activities).
Alternate route around Caterpillar
I'm guessing a lot of people know this route already but for those that aren't as familiar with this section, here's a relatively easy way around Caterpillar until Phase 4 is complete:
I don't like Caterpillar (and/or whoever is doing the sign stuff) being a**holes either. But we'll get more accomplished if this is handled the right way. Plus bikers will stay safe and legal while riding the unimproved section.
Thanks for the info, LeeS. This sheds some more light on the matter.
Quickly, if you were riding through their parking lot, then you were on their private property. If you were riding on the trackbed, then you were not. Cleveland Brothers happens to own parcels on both sides of the trackbed, but not the trackbed itself. The publicly owned rail corridor is a very straight path through the middle around 60' wide. This is according to Westomoreland County's official website: https://www.wcgis.us/apps/public/
As far as encroachment goes, I've been seeing it since the first time I rode that section, 2 years ago on this exact date. Then I saw the front of an earth moving device parked perpendicularly to the trail directly in the middle of it, blocking the path through. So of course, I rode through the parking lot, and I don't' think anyone noticed that day. But this is how they get you. Like when someone illegally parks a car in the middle of the street, you naturally drive around, then they bust you for passing in a no-passing zone. As of November 2017 they were blocking the trail with a container car, again right in the middle of the rail bed, perpendicular as to block the entire path that the taxpayers paid for. This compels us to ride around into private property, where they can yell and complain that we are "trespassing". This game has been going on for a couple years now.
Coke Oven Mike's blog has some informative photos: http://coalandcoke.blogspot.com/2015/05/a-final-look-at-turtle-creek-branch-of.html
Zoom in here: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NfaREzMERiU/VWFOFr9ACiI/AAAAAAAASwc/HvB7_tN3qX4/s1600/IMG_3463.JPG
The equipment on the left of the photo appears to be all on private property, or close enough to it. The equipment on the right of the center line appears to be encroaching, with the arms of the machines resting only a few feet from the centerline of the track, instead of 30' from it. Look in the background and you'll see a smaller piece of equipment parked in the dead center of the track, near where Cleveland Brothers routinely runs its equipment across the publicly owned track between its two privately owned lots. This machine is an early version of their "blocker": that strategically placed piece of machinery that makes trail users thing "the trail is blocked, I'll just ride around", so then they can complain about you riding through their parking lot, once they've given you no realistic option but to do so.
The satellite photo google is currently using shows one blocker placed on public property at either end of the section where the public track bisects two Cleveland Brothers lots. Deviating by more than 30' from the center of the tracks while riding around either of these blockers would naturally put you on their property. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Murrysville,+PAfirstname.lastname@example.org,-79.6699909,148m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x8834c1721c56afd7:0x64684da7280665db!8m2!3d40.4284015!4d-79.697545
Yep. I get it. Before I went through their parking lot, I followed the trackbed. And I can't remember if equipment was blocking the trackbed or not. If it was I simply went around and didn't think anything of it because I would have assumed they had the right to do it. I now know they don't since it's publicly-owned property. After riding the trackbed a few times, I switched to using their parking lot. My bad and I don't do it anymore.
One time I even explored going through Walker's Pet Hotail (<-- correct spelling, believe it or not) parking lot, up the hill along Rt. 22 and stayed between the guardrail and Cleveland Bros. fence. THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR ANYONE!! I walked my bike because it's very narrow. Did this once with no plans to do it again.
However, this got me to thinking, about a slightly different route for Phase 4 around Cleveland Bros. I say this because the route to hug the creek behind Cleveland Bros. is still very narrow. Their buildings in a few spots are seemingly within 20-25 feet (I don't know the exact dimensions) of the usable space to route the trail.
Has it been considered to route Phase 4 this way?
- This is oriented based on heading east:
- Using the existing trackbed, cross Cleveland Bros. entrance off Rt. 22 and continue behind Walker's Pet Hotail.
- Turn left immediately after Walker's building and head toward Rt. 22.
- Close to Rt. 22, turn right and follow parallel to Rt. 22 until close to Walgreens parking lot.
- Turn right and follow between Walgreens parking lot and Cleveland Bros. back to the original trackbed.
- This would require Cleveland Bros. to move maybe 20-25 feet.
- For Cleveland Bros., this would seem to be space they wouldn't miss.
- Cleveland Bros. continues to have use of the land between their buildings and the creek. It looks like this property is more valuable for their operations than what is proposed above.
- Obviously, fences or some other barrier can be constructed between the trail and Cleveland Bros. property, and Rt. 22 for that matter. Drivers would see trail users on this (short) stretch -- thereby further promoting the trail. This could have a similar effect of the Jail Trail between both directions of the Parkway East. Lots of people see it and want to know how to get on the Jail Trail trail (I've shown many people over the years).
- The trail gets back into alignment with the original trackbed earlier than later (i.e. closer Walgreens instead of closer to School Road) with no impact to Cleveland Bros. at this point.
Just a thought. Maybe this was already considered and ruled out. Maybe there are drainage issues near the area bordered by the trackbed, Walgreens, and School Road. I'm just brainstorming.
What do those L-shaped symbols mean on Westmoreland County's map?
In Duff Park, similar marks span Turtle Creek in spots, but they don't seem to mark crossings, as they don't correspond to spots where the park trails cross the stream.
Could they indicate property rights somehow span the gap between the two Cleveland Brothers properties, maybe via an easement of some sort? Or are they simply surveyor's marks of some kind?
I believe they denote ownership. Whoever owns one end of the spike owns the other. More to the point, it’s considered one property, with a right-of-way or easement or separate parcel splitting the two.
I just took a look at the Westmoreland site. It states that the trail chapter meeting at 7 PM is after a public forum on Phase IV. Anyone know when the public forum starts?
From the WHT e-mail sent to me:
"The Westmoreland Heritage Trail Monthly Board Meeting will be held;Thursday, February 8th, at the Export Italian American Club, 5930 Kennedy Ave, Export, PA 15632
A Westmoreland County Parks Public Meeting presenting the Engineering Particulars and a Q&A session for the Planned Phase IV
Trail construction from The Roberts Parcel Parking Access in Murrysville to Lincoln Avenue, Export will precede the WHT Board Meeting and begin at 7:00 p.m.
Everyone is welcome, Hope to see you there."
The way I read it, the public meeting will begin at 7:00PM, and the WHT meeting (which is also open to the public) will directly follow it.
Got it. That does make more sense.
I attended the meeting last night at the Italian American Club. It was a packed house for the first part of the meeting relating to Phase IV of the trail project. Following this presentation, there was a shorter, smaller meeting for the trail group. Mostly covered basic business but it was mentioned that there is a desire to connect to the GAP.
An interesting point that I think may have been mentioned here, but now seems official, is that the trail as planned runs between the Cleveland Brother building and Turtle Creek. There looks to be a good chunk of resources for signage at the crossing of School Rd to make this connection.
and a little more info from the TRIB
I was going to post this as a comment, but don’t have an account on the Trib’s page. If anyone else feels like plagiarizing this, go right ahead.
It is technically possible to bike from the Trafford end of the trail to the Great Allegheny Passage trail, but on public roads, not on trails. Follow PA130 into East Pittsburgh, Tri-Boro Expressway then Braddock Ave into and through Braddock, Kenmawr and Miller Aves through Rankin, then Church and Commercial through Swissvale. From there, one brief trail in Frick Park gets you close to the Homestead Grays Bridge (use the sidewalk), from which it’s a quick ride to the GAP. But warning, this is not for inexperienced cyclists or anyone uncomfortable with 50+ mph cars or heavy truck traffic. Viable alternatives are non-existent at present.
Thanks for the update, ccorbran! It looks like the route cuts down the number of driveway crossings from 3 to 1, which helps. If they'd have continued along the creek and gone behind the sports center instead of in front of it, they could have avoided the final Cleveland Bros crossing as well. Of course that would raise the issue of having to pursue a land use agreement with yet another property owner, but I hope they've at least considered it.
StuInMcCandless, I like that you're still thinking about this. The momentum to connect the WHT to the GAP is building, and we need to keep pressing for it. We know the abandoned rail bed on the right bank of Turtle Creek can get us off route 130. We know about the unused road through the floodgate which can get us safely around the Tri Boro Expressway (still not open, AFAIK). We know which streets provide good routes through Braddock and Rankin. We have to keep pushing to get the safest routes open to everybody, not just to a few guys who are willing to climb over fences. Getting a safe route from the GAP to the WHT is both doable and in the public interest.
And on that subject, what is the latest news on the progress of Deborah Brown's 5 boroughs group? Has anyone heard when they will be meeting again?
I have an unconfirmed report that one of the fences by the Westinghouse flood gate has been moved. Can someone on that side of town please check into this?
Is the trail eventually going bypass Tri-Boro Expressway?
I went through the Westinghouse flood gate today, and checked the gate across Route 2183 / Old Braddock Ave near what the railroad people call Bessemer Junction, and saw no changes to the fences. Things look the same.
To answer Zach: we hope so, as much as possible; no route has been finalized. One exception would be a short section along Braddock Ave between O'Connell Blvd in North Braddock and Route 2183. That section of Braddock Ave has fast cars & trucks.
Will Traffic calming, "Bikes May use full lane" signs, and sharrows help?
Why did it replace a bike emoji with a question mark? Errrr!
Could you elaborate about the section of Braddock Ave between O’Connell Blvd and the ramp SR Route 2183? That is next to the parcel where USS wants to allow fracking, and I was hoping that if they were going to let a fracking company use the land, they might let us use a small strip of it to run a cycle track just south of where Braddock Ave becomes high speed. Real estate is kind of tight through that corridor, but if US Steel were to move their fence back a few feet, that would give us all the room we need to safely get from O'Connell to the floodgate road.
I was inclined to raise a little more noise about this, but if something has already been finalized, I'll hold back until I see the plan. All I know of it right now is Pashek MTR's general suggestion of expanding southward from Braddock ave to give the bikes some breathing room, though the plan that I saw still had them using the 2183 ramp, with the acknowledgment that the intersection with the TBE would be problematic. If USS works with us, a path to bypass this problem area seems all but ready-made:
Regarding the piece of Braddock Ave between O'Connell and 2183, I didn't mean that this stretch had been finalized, I meant that I hoped cyclists would not have to bike on road, mixed in with the cars driving 50 mph. I hope a protected bike lane can be created along there.
Can anyone give me some additional information about the 5 Boroughs group? Is this a formal group, do they have a website? Any upcoming meetings?
The 5 Boroughs group does have a Facebook page, though there doesn't seem to be too much action there: https://www.facebook.com/Multi-Community-Trail-System-992190900913796/
I don't know of them having a website. The best source of information I have for them is actually this thread on BikePGH that we are all reading and posting in. So if anyone hears of any upcoming public meetings, please post them. Getting the word out and getting some butts in the seats at meetings can be critical to keeping projects like this going.
The last I've heard on the project is that Pashek is working on finalizing their work. I don't know if this will involve any more public meetings, or just more time on there part to insure that everything is correct and up to their professional standards. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Given the obvious implications in connecting the WHT to the GAP, many others have taken an interest as well.
Would an on-street connection through Braddock using sharrows on Braddock Ave. between the Rankin Bridge and 11th St., 9th St., on Rt 837 between the bridge and Waterfront Dr., as well as on 11th St., 9th St., and Washington Ave. be a good idea? A trail should be built past the steel mill from 11th St. bypassing the high-speed section of Braddock Ave. and Tri-Boro Expressway into East Pittsburgh. There might be a problem with acquiring right of way from the steel mill.
Also of note. The "No Pedestrian Crossing" signs were removed, pedestrian signals/crosswalks installed across Rt 837 at the Rankin Bridge.
As far as the section of Braddock ave west of the steel mill goes, I'm not sure yet what will happen. Sharrows offer little if any improvement over the status quo, in my opinion. I'd much rather see the cycle-track idea that Pashek-MTR has suggested. That would be quite a bit safer, and while it would eliminate one of the on-street parking lanes, that can be made up for with more off street lots. There are plenty of empty lots next to Braddock ave that could be used for parking, and many if not most drivers would prefer separate lots to the challenge of parallel parking, so making such a change could benefit both cyclists and motorists. It would also offer an excuse to fully re-pave Braddock ave, which would also make both car and bike users happy.
The Murrysville March for Parks will be held on this Saturday, March 24, 2018 at the Murrysville Community Center at 3091 Carson Avenue, Murrysville, PA 15668 (just North of Route 22 alongside phase 3 of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail). Registration starts at 8:30 AM and the march starts at 10:30. Pedestrians, cyclists and dogs are welcome to participate (I think the dogs may have to stay outside the buildings, but are allowed to march on the trails alongside their human friends.) To save the limited parking spaces for those marching on foot, cyclists are requested to park about 1/2 mile upstream at the Roberts Trailhead and to ride into the community center. If the weather is good, I'm actually planning on just riding in all the way from Trafford.
It is a fundraiser for the parks in general and for the trail in particular. Donations of $25 and up get you a t-shirt, though all amounts are appreciated. If it's like last year, there should be some good food there. It can also be a nice chance to chat informally with the many people helping to build and maintain the trail. You don't have to be from Murrysville or even Westmoreland county...and honestly you don't even have to do any marching...all are welcome.
Link here: https://www.co.westmoreland.pa.us/2616/Murrysville-March-for-Parks
"The state will not stock Turtle Creek with trout this spring because of deadly aluminum pollution that has discharged into the stream from abandoned underground mines in Westmoreland County. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission does not plan to stock Turtle Creek with brown and rainbow trout near the Saunders Station Road bridge in Penn Township on Wednesday, as had been previously scheduled, because of the pollution, said Eric Levis, a commission spokesman. ... The crystal clear sheen of aluminum pollution – some of it turning milky blue as it mixes with other minerals – came to light last week when the Turtle Creek Watershed Association explained how the stream was being polluted from Export to Trafford."
The article appears to capture the news rather well, though I suspect the expert was misquoted as naming "magnesium" instead of "manganese" as the co-pollutant. Aluminum, iron and manganese are the big 3 metals in acid mine drainage pollution. Thompson Run and the other tributaries near the Keystone Commons have lots of aluminum. Brush Creek, which comes from Irwin toward Trafford, has historically appeared to be more heavily laden with iron, as can be seen in its yellow-orange color. For Middle and Upper Turtle Creek, it's more aluminum, coming from the old Delmont and Export mines.
We saw a lot of the evidence of this pollution on our exploratory ride last year. We also saw lots of fisherman out, as it happened to be the first day of fishing season. Last year conditions apparently were good enough for the fish. This year they aren't. Cleaning up the abandoned mines would make every season a good season. There are plans out there.
They require time and money.
A few updates... The March for Parks
went well, despite the cold. Over $80,000 was raised overall, which is pretty impressive. Some will go to the trails (WHT and 5-star), some will go towards others parks projects in Westmoreland county.
Phase 4 construction bids will go out later this year, with major construction to begin in the spring of 2019 if all comes in under budget. A land-use agreement with Cleveland Bros has finally been signed. The trail will go around the back side of the facility, as expected, and the company will get to use the front. It seems like a good deal for both parties.
Some phase 4 work is already underway, namely the re-decking of the bridges. The bridge at TCKR milepost 7.76 (behind Hoss's) is now quite usable, though the some short sections of railings and the approaches need to be finished, so walking instead of riding across it is recommended. Those traveling across it won't get far, however, since the bridge at mile 8.19 (near Haymaker Farm Rd) has its old deck ripped out, and is un-passable at the moment, except by those adept on a balance beam. The parks dept should get the frame pieces of the new deck lowered into place soon (in a couple of weeks if I recall) then volunteers will finish the deck and it too will be good to go. Once that is done, only the bridge at mile 9.29 (near the Rivertown Brewery) will need to be re-decked. Its old railroad deck has been in the best shape of the three, so it makes sense to save it for last.
I'm referring to the old mile markings of the Turtle Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania RR
, since WHT markers are still on the to-do list for this section. I noticed that the markings for the bridge at 8.19 can still be seen (faintly) on the cornerstone on the southwest side of the bridge's foundation. As for the original cast iron mileposts, not all of them survive, but those that do are easy to spot alongside the trail. The bridges being worked on were reportedly built in 1898, and the style of the mileposts and the numbers on them hint that they are from the same era. The two numbers welded onto the mileposts add up to 11, and the line was about this length when those bridges were built. Though it ran all the way to Saltsburg at its peak, the TCKR was coincidentally down to about 11 miles long again when it was last active.
Just noting that it’s been a year since our scouting expedition. Any plans to do another, given what we know in the last year, and/or spots we missed?
Somewhat related: I walked to the site of the former town of Port Perry (on the Monongahela River just upstream of the confluence with Turtle Creek) and got this photo of the Norfolk Southern and Union Railroad Port Perry Bridges. Kennywood is in upper right.
Port Perry was a river town that predated Braddock, and got wiped out as the railroads expanded:
If the ridiculous Mon-Fayette Expressway extension to Monroeville gets built, it will cross the Mon near here.
Hard to believe it's been a year... here's a little summary from what I've learned since
I've been reading everything I can find on the history of the Westinghouse Interworks Railway
. If anyone finds any good sources of info on it, please pass it along to me. Note it is often spelled "Inter-Works", and there is no clear consensus among sources regarding whether or not the proper word "Interworks" should be hyphenated. So search for both spellings :)
I've done a little more exploring on foot of the parts we missed, over the winter while the knotweed was down and stuff was a little more visible. First: the former bridge site over Dirty Camp Run is somewhat worse that I had thought. The steel in the water does not appear to be parts of the bridge, but parts of the foundation. The bridge is completely gone, and the old abutments are in poor shape. The upside is that the span is shorter than the length of a flatbed truck, meaning that a pre-fabricated bridge could quickly be hoisted into place once the supports are restored.
Second: the rail grade between the "Welcome to Pitcairn" sign and Lincoln Way Supply is actually in better shape than I first thought. The hillside has not completely collapsed or eroded, so it is likely no expensive boardwalk will be needed in this section, just some grading and stream bank stabilization. What is making this section all but impassible is the sheer bulk of the overgrowth: mostly knotweed but also fallen trees. I managed to brute-force my way through the section during the winter. I think we can quickly make it passable by mountain bike with a few volunteers wielding some chainsaws and high powered weed-whackers.
What to do next? Connecting the WHT to the GAP is going to involve ten
municipalities, so I think the project needs some heavy involvement by officials at the Allegheny County level. The WHT is succeeding in part due to grass-roots volunteers, but also because the Westmoreland County parks officials are heavily involved. We need the Allegheny County powers that be to become just as involved if this is going to get off the drawing board. For that, I'm looking forward to the final version of Pashek MTR's study. Their preliminary reporthttp://braddockborough.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/july-2017-transportation-plan.pdf
looks promising, and though it encompass only 5 of the 10 boroughs along the WHT-GAP connection path, I'm hoping it will lead to Allegheny County devoting more money and man power towards expanding the scope of the project to make the full connection possible.
Good pics of Port Perry, Paul. Wish we could use one of those bridges, though there is no way NS would allow it. The Mon-Fayette Expressway is something I figured to be irrelevant to trail expansion. If it happens, the trail would just run under it with no problem. But its bridge poses an interesting possibility: could it include a biking/walking lane? Including this would be of a trivial cost compared to that of the project, and unlike the expressway it could actually benefit the communities that it runs through. Is there a way to lobby for the inclusion of bike lanes on a project you hope doesn't happen?
I was up on that hill last Friday, though I didn't walk as far up as you did. I did walk out and back across the George Westinghouse Bridge. Now is a unique opportunity for sight seeing from it, as the traffic on it was pretty light with Route 30 closed ahead of it due to the landslide.
Pashek+MTR has also been working with Monroeville, Churchill and Wilkins Twp on their comprehensive plan. This is also in the "draft" stage, but it looks like the WHT-GAP connection has been noted in their plans: http://www.monroeville.pa.us/docs/commdev/20171115CMWCompPlanDraft.pdf
The appendices of the draft are here, posted for the sake of completeness: http://www.monroeville.pa.us/docs/commdev/20171115CMWCompPlanDraftApp.pdf
The first document was the more interesting one to me. The WHT trailhead at Saunders Station gets a photo in the "CONNECTIVITY & TRAILS" section; BikePGH gets a mention there as well. But this quote on page 93 (4-29) is the most encouraging:
"Through inclusion in this comprehensive plan report, Churchill, Monroeville and Wilkins expressly state support for the proposed Interworks Trail. The communities recognize the value of the Great Allegheny Passage, which connects Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. , and Westmoreland Heritage Trail, partially completed between Saltsburg and Trafford. These trails provide access to destinations and facilities for recreation. (Completed segments of the Heritage Trail between Murrysville and Trafford fall within Monroeville’s borders in Allegheny County.)
Churchill, Monroeville and Wilkins support planning and construction of a trail that would link the GAP and Heritage trails along a route that roughly follows Turtle Creek and crosses the Monongahela River at Braddock."
The Churchill - Monroeville - Wilkins plan appears to be in final form. It doesn't look like much changed from the earlier draft: http://www.churchillborough.com/uploads/linked/2018-1-5%20c-m-w%20comp%20plan.pdf
The much-anticipated Rankin-Braddock-North Braddock-East Pittsburgh-Turtle Creek study has come out. Nearly 200 pages for your reading pleasure: https://www.dropbox.com/s/x5h1yy50qx2cp1t/4-17-18%20RBNBEPTC%20Active%20Transportation%20plan%20DRAFT.pdf?dl=0
Several park benches have now been installed along Phase 3 of the WHT. Thanks to all who donated them and helped with the installation.
Phase 4 WHT bridge construction is moving along. The bridge near the SportZone behind Hoss' is now done. The bridge a half mile upstream near Haymaker Farm Rd is done but for 1/2 of the second layer of deck and the railings - one can easily walk a bike across it now.
Design plans for Phase 4 are "95% complete". Assuming PennDOT approves, bidding and contract awards are anticipated this summer/fall, and major construction should start next spring.
The WHT has announced partial trail closures this week on portions of the Phase 3 between Saunders Station in Monroeville and the Robert's lot in Murrysville. New drainage culverts will be installed. The first spring's rain on this newly constructed section has shown the existing drainage to be inadequate, and this is an effort to correct the problem and prevent future trail washouts. The closures will only be in effect when open trenching is in progress. Professional contractors will be handling it. Work is anticipated to take only a couple of days.
The erosion issues I've seen weren't yet too bad, but it was apparent that they would need to be dealt with before they became a serious problem. Credit goes to those in charge for recognizing this and taking care of it.
Monroeville has released a new survey of community ped/bike needs as part of its "Active Transportation Master Plan." It invites participation by residents of Monroeville and "nearby." I don't know what their definition of "nearby" is. But, it clearly is looking at the question of connection to both the Westmoreland Heritage Trail and the Turtle Creel Valley (as well as along Route 22 towards Wilkinsburg and portions of Route 286.
Here is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MonroevilleWalkBikeHike
Good find, Swalfoort. I filled it in. I don't live in Monroeville anymore, but I get the impression that feedback from anyone who occasionally walks / bikes / uses public transport there would be helpful to them. Making a municipality more walkable/bikable isn't just for the direct benefit to its current residents, they are trying to make it more attractive for visitors as well, and not just for altruistic reasons; visitors often spend money there while we visit.
I just started looking at the PDF file. The reason this caught my attention is because recently, I've done some biking in these three car-dependent communities. Due to the car-dependent nature of these communities, I'm still trying to find the safest and easiest way to get to central Monroeville on a bike from points north and west. Here are some videos on the subject. By the way, Climbing the mile-long hill on Penn Ave. in eastern Wilkinsburg is very difficult and quite tiring especially after climbing One Wild Pl. and dealing with various other hills.
Also, I agree that adding bike/pedestrian/bus infrastructure improvements to these communities will help attract Millennials to these communities as many are forgoing car ownership. Because of this, a lot of the younger generation people who cannot afford housing in or near the city will be reaping the benefits of these "Edge cities" in terms of cost of living and patronizing their businesses while still being able to pursue their desire for active and public transportation.
Public transportation and walk/bike infrastructure brings the suburbs much closer to the city. Just think about not having to deal with the Parkway and Squirrel Hill Tunnel traffic jams everyday during your commute to the city while providing cleaner air for everyone!
Once we finally connect East Pittsburgh with the Eliza Furnace Trail, I would love to have a three-way race from Dynamo Way in EPgh to Smithfield and Sixth Ave downtown, with a car, a bus, and a bicycle, at morning rush hour. I’m fairly sure the bike would get there first by a large margin.
There are four unsolved problems here, only one of which has been discussed here previously. The rest should be taken to another thread, but I’ll lay them out here while they’re fresh in mind.
1. Westinghouse flood gate
2. Getting into the eastern end of Duck Hollow from the Rankin Bridge area
3. Getting from the western end of the Duck Hollow Trail to Hazelwood safely and legally
4. Getting from the western end of Hazelwood to the EFT safely and legally
Figure out those four things and we’ll have a direct path between downtown and Saltsburg.
The Interworks trail through North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek, Monroeville, Pitcarin, and North Versailles has not been built. See page 4-33 of the PDF linked above of the Churchill website. Is that the tail that is being talked about in this forum for liking the GAP to the WHT?
Also, would putting bus stop on Jefferson St. at Thomas St. and on Thomas St. opposite Jefferson St. or possibly doing a short loop through Mellon Plan so residents of the neighborhood will be more likely to use the bus for their commutes? Mellon Plan is a neighborhood in Monroeville located near the 69 Trafford bus route that is laid out on a grid making it relatively bike and pedestrian friendly.
Scroll back in this thread to April 15 2017, when a bunch of us, me included, biked that proposed path. You will also find a link to a series of videos I made of the excursion.
Later in the day, cameras off, we rode the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, not yet officially open, from Trafford out to the edge of Murrysville, then back to Dynamo Way, where we’d started.
A lot of it can be done now, with a good bit of on-road connections.
(I cannot talk knowledgeably about bus stops in that area, and this wouldn’t be the place to discuss it anyway.)
I remember those videos. recently, I've been as far east as Sam's Club in Monroeville. It was a very hilly and tiring ride from Aspinwall. Everything was fine until the long climb on Penn Ave. in eastern Wilkinsburg which I really huffed and puffed as I struggled to climb it even by walking. the ride through Churchill went ok. After enter Wilkins Twp. on Churchill Rd., there was a very steep and long descent into the Chalfant Creek Valley. In the valley, I followed the quiet Thompson Run Rd. until it became Northern Pike. Climbing the switchback winded me again, so I hopped the guard rail into the Sam's Club parking lot and waited for the 67 bus by Pep Boys.
According to the Strava Global Heatmap, the most traveled route would be:
- Climb One Wild Place to Mellon Terrace.
- R. Mellon Terrace
- L. Negley Ave.
- L. East Liberty Blvd.
- L. Hamilton Ave.
- R. Dallas Ave.
- L. Thomas Blvd.
- R. Lexington St.
- L. Meade St.
- L. Brushton Ave.
- R. Thomas St.
- R. Trenton Ave.
- L. South Ave.
- L. Swissvale Ave.
- Slight R. Park Ave.
- Slight L. Montier St.
- R. Laketon Rd.
- R. Graham Blvd.
- L. Penn Ave.
- R. Beulah Rd.
- S. Brown Ave.
- L Airbrake Ave.
- R. Patton St
- R. Station St.
- R. Wall Ave.
- L. Mosside Blvd
- R. Broadway Blvd.
- S. 5th St.
- L WHT
Does anyone have any advice to minimize the number of long or steep hills along this route? Where would be the best places to take breaks along the way?
The potential trail along the abandoned Westinghouse Interworks Railway, AKA the East Pittsburgh Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, formerly known as (part of) the Turtle Creek Valley Railroad, has itself been known by many names over the years, including:
The "Interworks Trail" in the 2018 Monroeville- Churchill - Wilkins plan:
"The Turtle Creek Greenway" in the 2014 Murrysville Trail News:
"The Turtle Creek Trail" in the 2010 Active Allegheny Plan:
"Forbes Trail" in the 2002 Turtle Creek Watershed River Conservation Plan (near the end of the file):
This railroad is abandoned eastward from approximately the Wilmerding - Turtle Creek border, and can be made into a rail trail easily. Part of it already has been: http://www.glennengr.com/uploads/2014_DCNR_GRANT_AIR%20BRAKE%20PARK.pdf
West of the Wilmerding - TC border, only one of the two sets of tracks of the former Interworks Railway have been torn up. (The railway had two sets of tracks through this section: the tracks that went between the Electrical Factory in East Pittsburgh and the Airbrake Factory in Wilmerding mostly remain, while the tracks from the East Pittsburgh Facility to the Trafford Foundry have been removed) A "rail with trail" would be possible along the remaining tracks. These tracks have seen very limited use since the line was broken up; some of the tracks in Turtle Creek have large trees growing through them. https://www.wtae.com/article/railroad-to-nowhere-financed-by-taxpayers/7468749
The road through the floodgate (Old Braddock Avenue, misnamed SR2183 on Google Maps) was also identified as a potential part of the GAP-WHT connection before I joined this forum. Unlocking the fence that is blocking this apparently still public road would cost nothing, could be done immediately, and would have a positive impact for cyclists and pedestrians in the area. Feel free to politely lobby your elected officials to ask that it be opened to non-motorized traffic.
@MattK, I do not live in that area.
I finally made it to the trail! It was a really long haul from Aspinwall taking over two hours to get there an bike. I took the bus back to Wilkinsburg and biked home from there. I got video here.
Great video, zzwergel. I really enjoyed seeing the parts that I have not yet explored. What'd you think of the trail?
Also, I was disappointed that you skipped the last half mile or so, leading to BY Park. You can also ride beyond BY Park to the industrial area below the Trafford Bridge at SR 130. That section is not all that pleasant, and not yet a formal part of the trail, but it's a good connection to "civilization."
BY Park is where we saw the foot-wide turtle!
Did you get to the ice cream store at the Forbes Road crossing? (sorry, didn't see the video)
I did visit B-Y Park yesterday when I found out that the bus wasn't going to come for another 40 minutes. It was nice. What didn't you explore?
No, I did not go to the ice cream store. I did cut through their parking lot while returning to the bus stop from B-Y Park. I also wonder if the trail will be used by nearby Murrysville residents to reach the bus stop in trafford or as part of a backwards commute from the bus stop to shops near the intersection of Old William Penn Hwy and Sardis Rd. for work? I also think once the Interworks Trail is built, It would make a great connection to Braddock so residents of the Turtle Creek valley can easily reach the East Busway and the 61A and 61B bus routes which operates much more frequently then the 69 bus operates, especially during the weekend when the 69 only comes by every 90 minutes and only between Trafford and Wilkinsburg. I also think spur routes should be built along Thompson Run Rd. and Mosside Blvd. making connections to Monroeville and Wilkins Twp. This will also attrack Millennials to the area because of it being less car-dependent.
Does anyone know a good way to avoid the very long, and steep hill on Penn Ave. in eastern Wilkinsburg while going from Aspinwall to Churchill? Would Taking Allegheny River Blvd. to Nadine Rd. be of any use in this situation. After climbing One Wild Pl. and going through Highland Park, East Liberty, Point Breeze, and Wilkinsburg; just seeing that hill knocks the wind out of me like nothing else has ever done. By the way, taking a once per hour bus is not an option. Waiting for the 69 bus in Trafford while exhausted was no fun at all.
The topography out there means you're going to have to climb a hill, one way or the other. There's a fan of creeks heading down to Turtle Creek that have cut valleys.
my memory of driving on Nadine road is that it is very narrow, hilly, and cars speed on it. And I don't recall there being much to the side of the road besides maybe a hillside or a guardrail. I'd be scared to do the climb on Nadine. I'd stick with the more "city-ish" route you take, because at least if you get tired you can pull over next to a parked car.
Thinking about it, the only way to really avoid hills is to get to Turtle Creek, and head east from there. You can't get to Turtle Creek without hills, but there are buses. Then you can use Broadway or cross the creek and follow Wall. Neither is exactly great for biking but not terrible.
The 68 and 69 only come once per hour for most of the day. The 61A and 61B come every 20 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends. Hourly buses are unacceptable because I cannot make sure I'm at the bus stop at the required time. Due to this, if I miss the bus by a few minutes, I'll have to kill nearly an entire hour waiting for the bus.
I was able to get to Braddock by bike. Since leaving Braddock on Braddock Ave. into East Pittsburgh is risky, would the following be an acceptable alternative to Braddock Ave. by the Westinghouse Bridge?
From Braddock Ave. in Braddock
- L. Library St.
- R. Bell Ave.
- S. Center St.
- R. Grandview Ave.
- L. Bessemer Ave.
- L. Linden Ave.
- R. Cable Ave.
- L. Braddock Ave.
Z, don't miss the bus. Sorry, can't help you much there.
The Braddock to Turlcrik connection was discussed earlier. There is no way to do it that is all three of safe, easy, and legal.
* Ignore safe: Just go straight out Braddock.
* Ignore easy: Go up over the top of the mountain.
* Ignore legal: Get down by the gate-with-four-locks by the Westinghouse flood gate, and make your way around to the left of the bridge abutments and through the weeds, to get around the always-locked west gate. The east gate is easy to bike around.
How can I make sure I don't miss the bus when I don't know how long it will take me to bike to Wlkinsburg? Worse yet, why isn't there a frequent bus that services East Pittsburgh? Infrequent service discourages the use of the bus because it makes it very inconvenient and necessary to schedule things around the bus schedule which can potentially change every three months.
Also, Bell Ave. appears parallel to the hairy part of Braddock Ave. There is also an interruption of the Ardmore Blvd. sidewalk in Forest Hills where there is no shoulder. Why is this? What happens if a vehicle breaks down on a highway without shoulders.
Z's route from Braddock to Turtle Creek is the way I would go, in reverse. The Triborough Expressway is too scary the other way. But I would take the Triborough heading east. Not as scary as heading west, and not as many hills as Z's route.
Is there a time of day and and day of week when it would be safest? Where is the dangerous part of Braddock Ave. anyway? Is it the four lane section south of the Westinghouse Bridge?
This is where I'm taking about: Braddock Ave, East Pittsburgh, PA 15112
I think it's less scary heading east than west. Partly because heading west you're going uphill for the most terrifying section. Also I think you get off the overbuilt section earlier heading east.
That said, you may find it too scary either way. Be cautious. The other route you posted is safer but Hillier.
I have never seen much traffic out there.
By West, do you mean toward Braddack? Heading toward E. Pittsburgh, there is a four-lane, up-hill section of road that becomes elevated and has no sidewalk or shoulder.
Here is a link to some video/
I'm talking east of there. The ride out to Edgar Thomson is OK by my standards. If you keep going east toward East Pittsburgh you'll run into a real highway, as you say. In my experience, it's tougher heading towards Braddock than the other way, but you might find either direction too much to handle. In that case, I would do something like this, starting near the Braddock library:
Head northeast on Library St toward Maple Way
Continue onto Jones Ave
Turn right onto Bell Ave
Continue onto Center St
Turn right onto Main St
This will take you to Main St in East Pittsburgh, by a hilly but more or less low traffic route.
The same day I went through Braddock, I took a ride to the Carrie Furnace. On google maps, a green trail running from Duck Hollow to the dead-end of N. Braddocksfield Ave. under the Rankin Bridge. Is this a legitimate trail? The area around the furnace appears to be under construction and is fenced off with no trespassing signs.
I've ridden the Triboro (4 lane - divided road between Braddock and E. Pittsburgh/Turtle Creek) on the weekends. Taking the lane and riding either direction , in the morning, the traffic is very light and I've had no issues. I've only ridden east in the afternoon, traffic is heavier but again I've had no issues. This is on the weekends mind you. During the week I wouldn't use that route.
Tri Boro Expy. goes from Penn Ave. Extension in East Pittsburgh to Thomas St. in Monroeville. It intersects Brown Ave., Thompson St., Grant St., and Monroeville Ave. before becoming freeway like through Wilmerding. I Cannot be in Braddock in the morning because I rarely wake up before 9:00 AM and live in Aspinwall.
Compare these photos.
Looking downstream along Turtle Creek. Streetcar on old Braddock Ave at bottom, and the now-defunct town of Bessemer Junction at bottom center. Upper left is Edgar Thomson Works in North Braddock, and the Monongahela River. Upper right is East Pittsburgh.
photo from https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10212631323967413&set=a.1051862546187&type=3&permPage=1
Seeing all of that smoke makes me cringe. At least we don't have it that bad today.
I believe only one building remains from Bessemer Junction. If not the same building, it’s in the same spot and is the same size and alignment.
Also cool to note the use of that narrow little road the flood gate is on, now 2138, was at one time a heavily used thoroughfare. And since freight rail and transit rail have different gauge rail widths, how did they fit both through that narrow notch, and simultaneously support bi-directional auto traffic?
Good find on that old photo, Paul. I hadn't seen that one yet.
Stu, I've wondered the same thing myself. The stone arches of the PA railroad bridge would have passed over old Braddock Ave decades before the floodgate did, so that would always been a choke point. Pennsylvania Trolley gauge track was 6 inches wider than standard gauge, so a dual-gauge single track trough there might have been possible. I'm thinking it could have been a track with 3 rails, 2 at 4' 8" and another 6 inches outside. I haven't seen any photos to confirm this, so it's just a guess on my part.
The carriages, with and without horses, would have to yield to the trains and trolleys when the larger railed vehicles passed through. I think that the headache this caused when automobiles became more popular would have been part of the motivation to construct the Triboro Expressway.
"Share your ideas on plans to improve walking, biking and hiking in Monroeville
Monroeville Active Transportation Plan
7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018
Council Chambers, 2700 Monroeville Blvd, Monroeville, PA 15146"
It looks like Monroeville has received a similar grant as the 5 Boroughs group did the previous year. See the final page here:
A video of Monroeville's presentation on Oct 18 has now been posted : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTjGdkZWv2w
About 20 people were in the audience, mostly from Monroeville but some from surrounding communities. We talked informally in groups after the presentation, and the ideas were flowing freely. People were welcomed to draw their ideas right on the map, which Elaine Kramer took with her back to Pashek MTR. More rounds of input and revisions are expected soon.
The final bridge of phase 4 (TCKR MP 9.29) was stripped down to the metal as of a couple weeks ago. I know the original plan was to re-deck it this fall, but no exact dates have been announced. In the meantime, this one is easy to detour around via Old Wm Penn Hwy.
The winning bid for the bulk of Phase 4 construction went to Plum Contracting for $1.3 million.
As with the previous phase, groundbreaking is set for March. Anticipated completion is next August. Hope for a grand opening party in Export then.
In somewhat quieter news, Westmoreland County was awarded a $30k grant to study the~4 mile Export to Delmont segment of the future trail.
It looks like some of the land needed is already owned by the RTC or Murrsyville, some by a utility company, some by others. No word on acquisitions...but the parcel maps are here
. The linear parcels of the former rail line are easy to find on the map.
The deck of the final bridge on phase 4 (near the Rivertowne Brewery) is now complete. Only railings and such need done now, work on this is expected next Saturday. Some surveying work has been going on on the trail itself in anticipation of spring construction. March is still the target date for the beginning of this, though I expect they will work around the weather as need be.
Comedy night was entertaining. Thousands were raised for the WHT and Five-Star trail projects. The March For Parks
is scheduled for March 30th of this year. That is expected to pull in even more money for the parks and trails.
Here's another look at Old Braddock Ave:
Check out how the trolley, the tracks and the floodgates looked back in 1964.
West of the flood gate, but looking east, toward it, if I am interpreting this correctly. The trolley car looks askew, I think, because it is merging from two-track to single-track operation to pass through that narrow bit by the flood gate. The stream appears to be on the right. Does this sound right?
Yes, Stu. The standard gauge railroad line would have been somewhere behind the parking lot on the right of the photo, and merged in very close to where the flood gates are. I still don't know for sure how any track gauge mismatch between the trolleys and the trains was handled.
We went exploring back there nearly two years ago. I'd hoped that fence would have been opened by now. Anyone out there in BikePGHland who knows what (if anything) is happening next?
The Trafford to Murrysville section of the WHT was in excellent condition today. There had been different instances of storm damage since last year along the trail, but there was no issue with that today because the crews have taken care of the trail to the max. They really do a fantastic job.
Soon, this same ride will go into Export. It's gonna be fun!
The WHT is supposed to be extend from Murrysville to Export some time this year.Does anyone know what month?? I was planning to go out there in a few weeks,(in May), if finished.Also any more news on Turtle Creek Trail supposedly going from Waterfront to Turtle Creek??
According to the Murrysville Trail News, the plan is to have the trail complete to Export in time for Export's Ethnic Food & Music Festival in August. I don't know which week in August that will be.
This document mentions the connection between WHT and GAP as being something they wish they could do but don’t yet have the funding. On page 4
I'd love to see a map for the plan for the WHT to connect to the GAP; assuming that this will be a bike trail, and will not share a road. I can't imagine the route.
@71bucs The general idea is to follow the north side of Turtle Creek along the right of way from the Westinghouse Interworks Railroad. There is already a short rail trail using it called the Airbrake Ave. Walking Trail. So if the trail followed Turtle Creek to Braddock and crossed the river on the Rankin Hot Metal Bridge, it would connect to the GAP.
@71bucs and anyone else who came in late: In April 2017, five of us took a field trip, on bikes, scouting out where a path might go. Most of that is on video. Page back on this thread to this link
. The videos are public, but not listed on my YouTube channel, so the only way you’ll find them is from this thread.
Warning, you’re going down a two-hour rabbit hole, minimum, four if you want to look at the rear video, too. It took me a week to process and upload it all.
I would appreciate sharing only on a need-to-know basis. It took only one day for some jerk to start sharing these widely with no context, which led to me de-listing them.
Thanks guys, for the great help on this!
Now I know the possible route to the Gap. It's certainly going to be a while before that would become a reality. In the meantime, I'm anticipating the finish of the current work on the WHT from Murrysville to Export.
Also, on the southern end of the WHT, there are some railroad tracks yet to be removed in order to get easily into Trafford, proper. It's a bit rough getting through there now, but I can do it if there hasn't been any very recent rain.
Again, thanks for the help. I watched all of the videos, and admittedly, I did some fast-forwarding.
The tracks from just beyond B-Y pond to the "Pittsburgh Line" (The heavily active main railroad line) are still owned by Norfolk Southern. This appears to be the legacy of the original sale of the Turtle Creek Industrial Track
from Conrail to Dura-Bond in 1982. Most of the track was sold to Dura-Bond, which later sold it to Westmoreland County a few years after service on the line ended in 2009. However the 0.9 miles of the track closest to the main line was retained by Conrail, from which Norfolk Southern inherited it.
NS has been using the segment of this track closest to the main line as a staging area for maintenance equipment. Fortunately, this portion is not needed to complete the WHT to Trafford. The part that is needed for the trail is not in active use, and has fallen into disrepair due to landslides. This section, "the cut" is the part which many people walk and mountain bike along between the Rt 130 bridge and the start of the WHT.
It's no secret that Westmoreland County wants to buy this land from Norfolk Southern; they have openly stated this to the press. The location makes it useful as a rail-trail, while the landslides and its dead-end location make it useless as a railroad. The sale of this section would be a win for both buyer and seller, and I suspect both parties know this. Now they just need to agree on a price...
@ MattK and anyone else on this subject: I just went through "the cut" again yesterday. I was able to get by because the puddles have shrunk, so I was able to roll my bike down low under one fallen tree. But, I had to carry it for so much of the way before I could ride it through to Trafford.
I had spoken last month with a fellow cyclist who said he had cut back the fallen trees after the first series of landslides. He had intended to get back to cut the rest (he lives in Trafford), but it was apparent to me that he hadn't gotten around to that yet. If those trees are removed, there is a somewhat bumpy path right beside the track on which it is suitable enough to ride.
Once you exit "the cut," there is a road (Stewart Station Drive), that, heading north from here, you could get quickly out to Forbes Road and shortly get to the WHT. However, before you get to some businesses (Chelsea Building Products and a few others) along this road, there is an unlocked and open gate with a No Trespassing sign on the fence. This is at the old Westinghouse plant. Yet, this is a public road, so I don't understand that. Possibly, it's an old sign that hasn't been taken down. But, I've never tried to encroach upon this property. Maybe I should; all that can happen is that I'm stopped and turned back.
I do know this much -- the merchants in Trafford want easy access to their town from the WHT. "The cut" will have to be made more accommodating.
What help does the guy need in cutting up those trees? Too big a job for one person? Can WHT people round up some help?
@StuInMcCandless: This is really a one person job -- just to get some trees out of the way. I don't own a gas chainsaw, or the path would be clear already.
Nonetheless, it seems that the interest in the WHT is now focused on the work between Murrysville and Export. Since "the cut" is at the extreme other end of the trail, and most riders are not interested in getting into Trafford, this is just not an important issue for them. Other riders (like myself) have broken away or dragged some smaller branches out of the makeshift path that we have created. I go through there so I can put on additional miles in the Trafford area. Most people do not bother with "the cut." I am only assuming that this issue will be dealt with eventually, but I haven't found anyone home at the Main Trailhead in Murrysville to speak with.
I appreciate your concern.
The reason the Murrysville to Export section is being constructed now is that the land for that expansion has been purchased from Dura-Bond and is now owned by Westmoreland County. The Cut in Trafford is still owned by Norfolk Southern. Until that land is purchased, I'm not sure what the county or others are officially allowed to do with regard to maintaining it. They may have to do something if the landslides threaten the buildings above the cut, but general maintenance on that track still appears to be the responsibility of its current owner. I have noticed that, on occasion, fallen trees have been cleared from the idle tracks, though I don't need to ask who did the work, and don't expect them to tell...
Acquisition of The Cut is a a very high priority. Malcolm Sias and Jeff Richards give the trail board an update on their progress nearly every month. They are talking with the owners. People from Norfolk and Westmoreland have walked the site. The land has been appraised. If and when the parties agree to a deal, I'm sure they will tell us. I know the Westmoreland County officials want to get that land purchased and ready for construction just as much as the rest of us, if not more so.
@MattK: I gotcha on this. I understand the situation as you explained it. Thank you.
I'm going to still pass through this cut when it is not semi-flooded. I hope the guy with the chainsaw who was mentioned above stops by again.
A little update: Phase 4 construction seems to be progressing nicely. A pile of crushed stone can be seen next to Old William Penn Highway. It looks like they are getting very close to putting the top coat of stone on the trail. I haven't heard anything officially about whether they are on schedule for the August opening date. But from casual observation, it appears to be going well. Hopefully those "closed for construction" signs will start coming down soon. :)
But before then, for those interested two "trail town" events will be hosted this Saturday June 1st near sections of the trail that are already complete. "Music, food, ice cream and fun activities are planned for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at B-Y Park in Trafford. The celebration then will continue with more of the same from 4-8 p.m. at the Slickville Fireman’s Pavilion."
FYI: crushed limestone has been going down starting at the Export end of the trail the last two days. The steamrollers have been busy.
I can see the new trail segment from my house. I'm excited!
At least as of today, the trail is now open from Trafford to Export! I rode it this morning; very enjoyable.
Glad to hear it! I'm sure you rode right past my fence. I will be getting out for a ride soon myself.
I'm going to have to stop in the Export Deli soon. It's handy to the trail. Other restaurants should pick up some new business now.
When I met with the managers of the Trafford Commerce Center recently, their understanding was that Stewart Station Drive was private north of the "yellow poles" probably around the location of the open gate and sign you mentioned.
Others in the community mentioned the abundance of activity and car traffic at the ball fields immediately south of the PA-130 bridge. Something to consider if you are biking in the area on weekends during baseball season.
Any idea how to get Google to add this trail to its “biking” maps.
I like turning on the biking layer and seeing the growing network of green lines around the region. This trail has had sections open for years now and still no recognition on Google.
I tried a few of their reporting options but nothing quite applies to the biking and I’ve seen no changes
Not much out there on the Internet about this, which is surprising to me. Best as I can tell, the only way is to suggest "missing road" to Google. But it seems like they aren't very quick about responding to requests, unfortunately.
@71Bucs, the deli is good. Lots of Boars Head brand lunchmeat options. Two ladies own it and they have always given us (both me and my better half) very prompt service. I like the Export's Finest sandwich (peppered turkey) on toasted Italian. The portions are large, too.
Forgot to mention that crosswalks and bike crossing symbols were being painted on Monday afternoon. There are also yellow poles up for what I can only assume will be gates near several street crossings. Looks like everything should be done by the Export festival in August.
The next phase of work from Export to Delmont.......Just curious" how" they plan on crossing Route 66 and" where" on Route 66 is the trail going to cross???
No one knows for sure yet, @cycleguy. It was announced at a recent Westmoreland Heritage Trail monthly meeting (May, I think) that Westmoreland County has a tentative agreement in place to purchase land from Great Oak Energy between White Valley and Delmont. This parcel was part of the old rail line. I think it would bring the trail up to Route 66 across from Industrial Drive.
To give you a visual, @paulheckbert posted this link back in 2016:
This is most likely where the trail will need to cross 66. How that happens, I don't know. I'd love to see the old train tunnel dug out, but that is highly unlikely due to $$$, I'd think...
I rode the trail from Trafford this morning, intending to get to the end at the Export Deli. I didn't get that far.
The trail was in really bad condition. Three trees were down, one across the trail completely. But, the worst part was a little over a mile from Trafford where the limestone was completely washed out for possibly a quarter-mile, and there were very deep and wide ruts. I had to walk my bike -- no riding here. Then, there were two other spots where rocks washed down from the hillside and covered at least 20 yards. Again, I had to walk my bike.
Further along, there were many sections of partial wash-out that caused a pretty rough ride, but manageable.
Sadly, once past Roberts Trail Access, the newest section has suffered damage also. What was a smooth ride last week was now like riding on a washboard in some areas. When I got to Cleveland Brothers, a fence had been put up with a large orange "Trail Closed" sign attached. I figured that the maintenance people were working ahead, and turned around here. I just hope that they were working on final touches on the new trail, and not repairing storm damage!
On the way back, I came upon a crew that had removed the tree that covered the trail, and they were going to proceed up the trail. I thanked them, and wished them good luck.
I've been out of town since Tuesday, but from what I've seen online it looks like most of Western PA got thrashed by storms this week. The WHT volunteer maintenance crew typically works on Wednesday mornings. Seems like the majority of Westmoreland County got hit on Thursday.
@TheSteelGator: Yes, the county was hit pretty hard. Quite a few people had floods in their neighborhoods, and subsequent property damage. I should be more concerned about them than the condition of the trail.
But, when things get back to normal, I will try one of those Export's Finest sandwiches. Thanks for the tip.
For those curious about the Great Oak Energy parcel, it's the section that runs from Rt 66 westward approximately to Ringer Court Road in Murrysville, crossing over Morosini Farm Road. Some pictures of this section of the trackbed can be seen on Coke Oven Mike's blog entry on the Delmont mines : http://coalandcoke.blogspot.com/2017/01/delmont-mines-turtle-creek-branch-of.html
As far as the rest of the trackbed goes, a couple segments are owned by the regional trail corp, at least one is owned by Murysville, one by Export tire, one by Salem Industrial Drive corp....and some smaller sections are owned by other owners as well. Compared to the phase 3+4 acquisition from Dura-Bond, less real estate needs to be acquired to complete this potential phase of the trail. However, it looks like there are a few more different owners that the county will need to make deals with. It sounds like they are making progress.
The trail is open again from Trafford to Export. I rode it this morning. The area near Trafford where the limestone was washed out has been tended to (to a degree). The limestone has not been replaced, but the ruts have been filled in. However, it's better to walk your bike through here. The rockslides haven't been totally cleaned up, but some of the rocks have been moved. Again, it's best not to ride over what has been left.
As for the newest section that was closed down last Friday, repairs have been made, and it is back to good riding condition. Apparently, the storm had taken it's toll in places here, too. It's all fixed, now.
I rode Trafford-Saltsburg today (using mostly rural roads between Export and Delmont). The new section is nice, and the trail is in good condition in most places, but there are a few areas between Trafford and Monroeville where rock debris washed across the trail. They were not too hard to bike through. When I started to bike "the cut" west of B-Y Park, the trail was narrow and unfinished, as it has been for years, but there were several fallen trees blocking the path that prompted me to turn around. Hmmm. I have a chainsaw...
@paulheckbert: That would be one heck of a ride. Did you do it round-trip? I hope that wasn't a naive question. I know a few riders who have someone to transport them back to their starting point. That hill in Slickville would be all the tougher if it's on your return trip.
Sure. 48 miles round trip. The Slickville Hill is easy by Pittsburgh standards. (Compare the Dirty Dozen)
@paulheckbert: Nice ride. When the trail is completely finished, I'd like to do the round trip. I want to start in Trafford because I live in Irwin. I'm probably a bit older than you, and although I've biked up Slickville hill so many times, my uphill trek was always when I was still fresh because I started in Saltsburg. So, I'll have to consider my ability at the time. I have no idea when the whole trail will be done, and I'd like to think that age won't matter. But, it probably will.
BTW, I don't own a gas chainsaw, but I would certainly be very grateful if someone who did happen to own one cleared out a few downed trees in the cut. Hmmm.
The Trafford section of trail apparently got damaged by erosion a few days ago. See pictures at
I saw a phase 4 grand opening poster posted, so I guess it's official:
Saturday August 17, 2019 at 10:30 AM: ceremony begins at Roberts Lot on Rt 22 in Murrysville. Then we ride 3.4 miles west to Export, where the celebrations continue at 12:00 noon at the Export Ethnic Food and Music Festival at Lincoln Ave.
Times are listed as approximate. If it is like 2 years ago, the first ribbon-cutting will occur once the speeches complete in Murrysville, and the second ceremony will take place after the group of bikes finishes the 3.4 mile ride to Export.
Parking at the Roberts lot is limited to ~30 spots that are likely to fill up, so parking at other lots and riding in is encouraged. Personally, I plan to start my ride in Trafford around 9:30 ish to meet up with the group in Murrysville an hour later. It should be a good time.
I was able to get through "the cut" on the south end of the trail today. Some kind soul cleared up enough of the downed trees that I was able to ride/walk/carry my bike into Trafford.
I rode the trail for the first time yesterday, from Trafford to Export and back. Very nice, particularly the first couple of miles along Turtle Creek. The trail is a great asset to the area, and it's encouraging to see that it has been planned and built well. Hope progress continues and the connection to the GAP is made in the future.
Alos, the washed out section near Trafford is OK to ride. Not pleasant, but passable on a road bike.
is there a map of this trail?
As of June 27, 2019, Pashek MTR has a draft version of their Monroeville Active Transportation Plan posted. A possible westward extension of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail is one of the subjects covered:
the map helps! Thanks a lot. I was getting confused about how Turtle Creek fit into Westmoreland county.
I studied that map for several minutes. I'm trying to map in my mind how closely all those broken lines come to what we scoped out a couple years ago.
Here is what I recall us either riding, or pointing out what could or should be done, working east to west.
- Unusable bridge underneath the PA130 bridge in Trafford
- RR right-of-way to second, almost usable bridge behind the school bus yard
- Very narrow path on the south edge of the school bus yard
- Path below the PA48 bridge
- Path toward Pitcairn park
- Missing bridge across small creek
- Alongside or through used car lot
- The old trolley line is on the south edge of PA130 through Pitcairn west of the creek
- Diverge from PA130 to hug Turtle Creek more closely
- Pass under closed bridge connecting Wall and Pitcairn
- Follow existing trail trace into eastern edge of Wilmerding
- Existing established trail through Wilmerding
From here on west, my memory is not clear, but essentially there is an existing railbed which can be put back to use, all the way to the Westinghouse Flood Gate. All of which is more politics than engineering.
How much of the above is represented on that map, I cannot be sure. But maybe that's good.
The map in the 202 page draft report for Monroeville is very light on the details for the proposed rail trail in the Turtle Creek valley downstream (west) of Trafford. It also stops at the Wilmerding - Monroeville border, since it only covers the Monroeville part. It seems like the serious work is being left to Allegheny county. As they have more resources, I hope they take up the project with enough zeal that we get more than just a nice $40k study when they are done. I appreciate the studies and enjoy reading them, but this proposed connecting trail now exists in so many papers that I have lost count, and only a 1/4 mile in Wilmerding has been built.
Downstream of Wilmerding, historic maps show that the Westinghouse Interworks Railway operated on not one but two (and sometimes more) sets of tracks. One set of tracks went from the electric plant in East Pittsburgh to the Aribrake factory in Wilmerding; these tracks are still intact, albeit largely in such poor shape as they are unusable. The other set went from the electric company straight through to the foundry in Trafford; these tracks have been removed and partially become trail (for that short stretch in Wilmerding).
So, downstream of Wilmerding, even if the owner of the debilitated tracks insists on preserving them, there is still an "extra lane" where one (or more) parallel set of tracks ran, meaning a rail-with trail is possible, and has been proposed in the 5 boroughs plan by Pashek that was completed last year. It doesn't get tight until the railroad goes down to a single track under the NS bridge very close to the flood gates. Because of the arch of the underpass, this is only wide enough for one train, but because cyclists and pedestrians do not require as much vertical clearance, there is room for us to pass through on either side of the tracks.
For a working example of a working rail-with-trail inside a comparably sized tunnel, see the Howard Tunnel in York County, PA
(zoom in on the photo to see the cyclists by the rail in the tunnel)
"Notice is hereby given that the Municipality of Monroeville will hold a public hearing for public comment on its proposed Active Transportation Plan. The public hearing will be held on August 8, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at the Municipal Building located at 2700 Monroeville Boulevard, Monroeville, PA 15146.
I posted this link
to the draft of the plan yesterday in this thread. Extending the Westmoreland Heritage Trail westward from Trafford is one of several ideas in the plan. Anyone who likes this idea, or other parts of the plan is encouraged to show up and express support. Talking about ideas you support is best, but simply quietly showing up to the meeting and putting some butts in the seats can also be helpful. The meeting is the same date as the WHT monthly meeting which is at a different location, so attendance by WHT board members is expected to be minimal. I hope that other regional members of the cycling / jogging / walking community show up to help fill the void caused by this scheduling conflict.
Sorry, I will be out of town that day. I hope a few others can get there!
The trail is now officially open from Trafford all the way to Export. We had a nice turnout for the celebration: around 100 people or so by my guess (about the same as 2 years ago for the phase 3 opening). There were many more people on the trail on Saturday just doing their own things, and an even bigger crowd in Export for the food and music.
There's no set timetable for a phase 5, other than the fact that we know that a feasibility study will happen soon, and that the groundwork is being laid for land acquisition. The need for a tunnel under Rt 66 looms large. Tunneling under a state route will take some time in planning and funding, even though modern "cut and cover" pre-cast concrete tunnels are something PennDOT surely has plenty of experience installing.
On the western front, the abandoned Westinghouse Interworks track between Trafford and Wilmerding still lies abandoned... Turning this into a trail would be easy by comparison. Allegheny County really has to get behind their part of the trail just as much as Westmoreland County has. If they do, it can happen, and quickly.
I read yesterday in the Tribune Review that Murrysville officials expect cyclists to be stopping at the stop signs where the WHT crosses roads. Don't get me wrong here. I don't have a problem with that.
This afternoon, there was a policeman in his vehicle where the trail crosses School Road South at the Murrysville Sportzone. I stopped. Others did too; mostly because it was a good idea to do that.
However, I think the most dangerous road crossing is on Trafford Road. Vehicles traveling north (coming down the hill) are always moving a bit too fast. But, I have found the motorists here to be quite courteous. They often stop to let bikers and walkers through when they don't have to. One troubling aspect though is that one car will stop to wave you through, but the car from the opposite direction isn't going along with that. The article implies that motorists shouldn't be stopping unnecessarily.
I usually get off my bike and walk it across unless there is definitely no traffic. I can't say that I come to a complete stop before I cross.
I rode Trafford to Export today after drinking quite a bit of water at home this morning on my treadmill. I thought nothing of that water consumption until I found that the Porta Johns were removed, apparently for the season. Fortunately, I found one (not for trail use) at a worksite near the Meadowbrook Road Treatment Plant. Very lucky, there.
Nonetheless, I'd like to see the Porta Johns stay year-round. The trail was busier than I thought it would be today considering the temperature didn't get above 48 degrees. I'm certain that I wasn't the only one inconvenienced by this. Yes, I know that I'm sounding like a cry-baby. But, really? Aren't we supposed to ride this trail again until spring?
71bucs: I recommend you make your port-a-john suggestion at https://www.facebook.com/WestmorelandParkAndRec/
as they are the people that maintain that trail, I think.
I'd like to do that, but I'm not on Facebook.
Apparently, the people in charge decided they needed to remove them at this particular time. I'm curious as to why. This trail has its share of walkers too, even in the winter.
Thank you for your attempt to help.
Pkease don't get POed about POJs. I'm sure if you just ask the POwers that be, they'll let you know.
I can speculate since I have direct experience dealing with this crap on the Steel Valley Trail...some pissable reasons:
1. Cost. Someone is paying for this. The City of Pgh paus for them along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail--tax dollars as far as I know; maybe it should be put on the ballot.. The SVT pays for them through membership fees. donations. grants--no municipal funding. Have you ever noticed POJs that were locked? Check out those in the municipal parking lot along the Eliza Trail..why would they lock them?... $$$ to keep them up?... ...
2. Use. There is much less use of the trail during the colder months...whuch doesn't warrant the expense. It DEPENDS.
3. Freezing weather can require treatment of the fluids to inhibit freezing.
4. Maintenance. Access to empty the units, removing poopsicles, etc. may be an issue. The supplier may requure it..
Most likely funding is the main issue and the supplier may require removal for the other reasons.
The SVTC decided to keep them out all year round the last couple years since the weather was staying warmer..and now we got a grant...but we (and all trail groups) still need your volunteer time, donations, and friendly use of this/these great amenities. Indeed if you wush to get involved and be directly responsible in directing our funds, etc., thrre are a few Director ooenings for bext tear that need to be filled at our next Meeting: November 18; 6pm; 1705 Maple Ave., Homestead
Ask...and get invovled...
These folks maintain the trail.
Also, the November WHT Board Meeting will be held this Thursday, November 14th, beginning 7:00 p.m. at The Italian - American Club, 5930 Kennedy Avenue, Export, PA 15632
The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome.
It might a good place to suggest that port-a-johns are kept available.
Welp, so much for the idea of connecting the trail to that little park with the swimming pool. Turnpike Commission wants to widen the road, and rather than work around the pool, they're buying it and closing it. I do not know what this means for the trail itself, but I'm sure it's going to be a mess.
The Turnpike Commission is just adding to the number of nice neighborhood swim clubs it is annihilating, after wiping out Plum Aqua in 2017.
This will leave Monroeville with 4 pools which field swim teams: Garden City, Gateway Heights, Haymaker, and (University) Park. Unlike Bel-Aire which was owned by the municipality, these are privately-owned non-profits, and I'm sure they'll all happily accept former members of Bel-Aire who are willing to make the drive. I'm curious why they did not discuss acquiring the Foxwood pool, Monroeville's other former member of the swim-team league which lies closest to Bel-Aire and which closed for a lack of members only a few years ago.
I'm not sure how many WHT users made the trek from the trail up to BelAire. That climb up Saunders Station Road is so steep that even walking your bike up the shoulder is pretty brutal. But the mention of "obtaining an easement from the turnpike to give Monroeville access to eventually develop a trail that would connect to the Westmoreland Heritage Trail
" is interesting. All we see right now is their plan
to destroy part of the WHT, wiping out a supposedly rail-banked section in the process. Their idea to re-route the trail
looks like it was drawn by someone with little or no knowledge of the trail or the rail that preceded it. If their published plan is implemented as drawn, we would be permanently losing one valuable turnpike underpass, and be receiving nothing in return.
The turnpike project could simply carve a path of destruction through our communities. But if we get publicly involved in the design process, this need not be the case. The people who live nearby have to get involved to make it happen. A temporary construction road can turn into a bike and walking trail very easily, but only if someone is there to suggest the idea. If we lose an underpass in one location we should gain another in another location which would better link our neighborhoods. But if we don't make our voices known now, we get nothing.
"The December WHT Board Meeting will be held, Thursday December 12th, beginning 7:00 PM at the Lamplighter Restaurant, 6600 State Route 22, Delmont, PA 15626 After a brief business meeting: A presentation on the status of the WHT Extension Project through the Turtle Creek Valley by Friends of the Riverfront. Holiday Festivities including light hors d'oeuvres and light beverages. The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome."
For those interested in connecting the WHT to the GAP, it looks like this meeting may be a good one to attend.
I believe the Lamplighter Restaurant is at 6566 William Penn Hwy, Delmont, PA 15626, actually (not 6600)
I think you're right, Paul. Here's the Lamplighter's Webpage
Hope to see you there!
MattK did a great job explaining the possible trail route(s) at the meeting last night. His enthusiasm for this trail to connect to the GAP is contagious!
Thanks go out to Friends of the Riverfront
and to Allegheny County for the presentation last Thursday. Lots of good ideas for connecting the WHT to the GAP were discussed. I figure we had 40 or 50 people at the meeting.
Recently a new coat of crushed limestone was finally rolled on to the section of the trail on the Trafford / Penn Twp border that has washed out at least twice already. It had been repaired last year with asphalt millings, which made the trail functional but a little rough for those on skinny tires. It should be "as good as new" now.
Some drainage work was done in the upper end of the gorge in Murrysville. The issue there is not flooding but landslides from the steep slope above the trail. It's not as bad as what happens on the Steel Valley trail near Kennywood, but it has been bad enough to block some of the drain pipes. A few of us did a little work on this stuff last year with hand tools; honestly we made a good effort but I don't think we made much progress that day. This time the heavy equipment was brought in.
The video is posted here.
Ok guys I finally got in touch with the right people at Google and as of today I notice the WHT is now marked on Google Maps Biking layer.
There was no way to report this directly thru the app, but I finally got into a direct message session with someone on twitter and after a few weeks of back and forth, they finally added it.
It’s been a personal frustration of mine for the past few years, now even more people should discover this awesome trail and hopefully contribute towards its completion.
Anyone know any other local trails that don’t show up on the map? While I’m at it I can try to attack those as well.
It looks like the Google folks only have the trail going as far as the US-22 underpass. The trail is definitely complete to "downtown" Export (the intersection with Lincoln Ave, to be precise.) Any chance you can get them to add this portion?
The Funk Bikeway in Duff Park in Murrysville could be added, too. It parallels part the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, basically, just on the other side of Turtle Creek.
I'm sure there are more trails that I'm not aware of.
5 to 10 years ago, Google had a feature called Mapmaker that allowed map additions and corrections to be crowdsourced. It operated much like Wikipedia: after creating an account, anyone could propose a change, but all changes were subject to review before they were applied to the public-facing map database. The process was slow, typically taking several months to get changes approved, but it mostly worked. I entered the Redbank Trail into google maps this way, and many other local bike trail bits. In 2016 I made edits to add Duff Park's Funk Bikeway into google maps, plus all the foot trails in that park, but my changes were delayed by nitpicking editors and apparently they were never approved before Mapmaker was later shut down. Some users proposed malicious map changes over the years. For example, I was a reviewer for a proposed change that would have reclassified the Environmental Charter School in Regent Square changing its building type from “Charter School” to “Juvenile Detention Center”!
Mapmaker was shut down in late 2016. At the time, Google announced “Over the past year, we’ve rolled out new, easy ways for people to help keep Google Maps up to date by allowing them to make edits directly from the Google Maps app and through Google Search. Based on these efforts, in addition to our new Local Guides program, we’ve decided to retire Map Maker in order to improve and expedite the Maps editing experience on both mobile and desktop
But in reality, their new "Local Guides" is only a Yelp-like feature that encourages business reviews, not topological or geometric edits to the map; and instead of improving the editing experience, they have lobotomized it! In 2019 I used the limited error-reporting mechanism within Maps to report that Turtle Creek Rail Trail between Trafford and Export was missing, but apparently they ignored my report. Good work, @PIT2MAD, on getting the trail added!
Thanks @pit2mad !
Tredway Trail extension to Freeport Bridge could use added :-)
Also Three Rivers Heritage Trail on-road routes thru Blawnox (routing can be found online), Tarentum (not sure if this can be found online), and Neville Island.
Also, some more segments of the Ghost Town Trail have been constructed.
Nice! Connecting Rankin to the Westmoreland Heritage Trail would rock.
Anyone new to this little forum, I direct your attention to the events the weekend of April 14-16, 2017, when a bunch of us explored a good bit of this possibility. Included is a link (still active) to a series of videos recording that exploratory session, between the Edgar Thomsen plant and Pitcairn. I ask that you not share the videos widely, though I have no problem with just viewing them. Just point them to page 5 of this thread.
From Rep. Summer Lee: https://twitter.com/RepSummerLee/status/1403081295203340288?s=20
Now is the time to offer input on an exciting proposal to connect the Great Allegheny Passage to the start of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail in Trafford by establishing a safe route through several of our towns in the Mon/Turtle Creek Valley.
The Allegheny Co. Dept. of Public Works will host a virtual meeting later this month to discuss the Turtle Creek Connector Trail Feasibility Study. You’re invited to attend the meeting and offer your input on the project. It’s happening Wednesday, June 23rd, from 6pm-7:30pm.
If you are interested in attending the public meeting, please register here:
If you do not have access to the internet or cannot attend the meeting on June 23, there will be two in-person open houses in July. Learn more here:
Note: I've broken the last two links to get around the message board's clobbering of any post with more than one URL in it. You know how to perform the necessary surgery.
Just a reminder, the big online meeting is coming up in less than 24 hours. Please attend, show your support, and encourage others to do so. Even if you don't want to ask questions or comment, just showing up and putting some virtual "butts in the seats" at the virtual meeting is helpful to show interest and support for the project. Info and link below.
Upcoming Meeting and Open Houses
The Department of Public Works will be conducting a public meeting on the Microsoft Teams video conferencing application from 6 pm to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 to discuss the Turtle Creek Connector Trail Feasibility Study. The purpose of the meeting is to present an overview of the ongoing study, the reasons it is needed, and the environmental and engineering features within the corridor as well as to obtain public input. Representatives from Allegheny County and its design consultant, WSP, will be answering questions and addressing concerns about the study.
....If you do not have access to the internet or cannot attend the meeting on June 23 and wish to ask questions or provide input about the study, Allegheny County and WSP will be hosting two open-house events:
- Tuesday, July 20, 2021 – 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Pitcairn Park Building, 549 Broadway Boulevard, Pitcairn, PA 15140
- Saturday, July 24, 2021 – 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, Braddock Civic Plaza, 451 Braddock Avenue, Braddock, PA 15104
I attended tonight's meeting. They mapped out the general area, starting with use of the Rankin Hot Metal Bridge to cross the Mon, then working west to east through downtown Braddock, Pitcairn, and into Trafford. They scoped out three general ideas of how to get from Rankin to Trafford, labelled blue, yellow and red. If you get to see the slide presentation, which they said they would post in a couple days, the path we scoped out in 2017 roughly follows their red path. (The colors mean nothing; they just needed a way to display them.) In general, yellow was the "high road", climbing their way out of Braddock to use Bell Ave; blue was sharing streets with cars; and red was the use, as much as possible, of rail paths close to the creek. It was well put together, dispassionately presented, and laid out some general issues that they would need to address, like needing to rebuild old or missing or dilapidated bridges, use or acquisition of private property, and dealing with railroads and on-street parking. I would say it was decently attended, with about 20 online that I noticed, though it might have been higher.
I asked a couple of questions in the chat, which in turn got spoken aloud in the Q&A session. In particular, since there was concern about juxtaposition of trail to live train tracks, I asked about the frequency of trains, i.e., one an hour vs one a week? Also, the speed of those trains, 45 mph or 5 mph? The hunch that it's a train a week at 5 mph lessens the concern that it should be a big deal.
I also inquired about usage of the rebuilt Interworks trackage between the RIDC building and the waterway Turtle Creek, in particular that it had not seen a single train since being rebuilt in 2013. Whether that factors into plans or not, I cannot say, but I did call attention to it, in the form of a question.
Did anyone attend the meeting in Pitcairn on Tuesday? I'm curious how it went.
There is one additional meeting planned on Saturday, July 24, 2021 – 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at Braddock Civic Plaza, 451 Braddock Avenue, Braddock, PA 15104. I will stop by there.
I'm hoping for a good turn-out at these meetings. It should be a good chance for us to ask questions, give feedback, and most importantly show support.
PDF link: https ://t.co/WhcrfeXV4q
(You will have to perform surgery on the above links to remove the blanks. Message board software refuses the post if you have two functional URLs in the same post.)
Funding Award: $2,512,509
Municipality(ies): Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Monroeville, North Braddock, North Versailles, Pitcairn, Rankin, Trafford, Turtle Creek
Project: Design and engineering of nine miles of trail and on-road infrastructure between the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark in site to the end of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail in Trafford
Is there a timeline of when the Turtle Creek Trail will be complete?? I was cycling yesterday watching with other cyclists, construction employees with large heavy machinery, working on the old railroad bridge going into Braddock . This is the crossing bridge that will be a major part of the Turtle Creek trail.Several cyclists, including myself, were wondering of the timeline.
That far west, that would be part of the proposal in my Sept 22 post. I didn't know they'd let bids and begun work already. Maybe that's part of some other project? I don't know, and I don't know the timeline.