Duck Hollow & Hazelwood Trail

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Italianblend
Participant
#

Hello,

I am a late bloomer this year and I haven’t been able to bike until recently. It’s a summer thing for me only.

Anyway – I live in the swissvale/Edgewood area and I used to ride the duck hollow trail from Commercial Avenue all the way to the end, cross the train tracks to 2nd Avenue, and then get on the Hazelwood trail at one of the traffic lights, which took me right to the hot metal bridge. I loved this path.

So, yesterday I attempt the same thing and now they have fenced off the railroad from the trail. Not only that but the hazelwood trail is still closed after 2 years! This really puts a damper on my favorite routes into the city.

I know I can just go across Rankin bridge and hit the waterfront trail, but I really want to make a path to at least 2nd avenue in Hazelwood.

I noticed a little area before the fence that I could potentially walk up a steep gravel hill to the tracks and get myself to 2nd. How strictly do you think this will be enforced? Will I get myself into legal trouble doing this? I know you can’t really tell me to do it, but if the police notice me, will they give me a warning at first or anything?

Also, I’m very dissapointed that the Hazelwood trail is still closed. What is the holdup here? I thought it was supposed to be finished by now.

Thank you for your replies. This was my favorite route and I have been closed off at 2 places!


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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Short answers: I’ve been crossing those railroad tracks at the end of the Duck Hollow Trail for 10 years and have never been stopped. The biggest problem is that occasionally there is a train parked on the tracks. I recommend walking around the end of the train.

Regarding Hazelwood Trail, the ALMONO partnership is redeveloping the land. There have been other threads here discussing their plans. Here’s one https://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/encouraging-almono-to-think-big-on-active-transport/

I agree 100% that we need trails connecting through Hazelwood! We need to convince Allegheny Valley Railroad (the people that operate the railyard in Hazelwood) to work with trail groups to plan a route. To date, AVR has not been cooperative.


helen s
Participant
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A bit out of the way and longer, but you could cross Brown’s Hill Rd at the light north of the bridge, then glide down Johnston Ave to 2nd Ave. I rode it going the other direction Sunday afternoon- just cruising around and did not know that passage existed. I through the big new neighborhood (forget the name) and went down Commercial to get into Frick Park.

You can figure this out on the eastern edge of the Bike Pittsburgh Map.


Ahlir
Participant
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if the police notice me, will they give me a warning at first
Nah, they just start shooting. Just be sure you ride with a flack jacket.

But seriously, @paulheckbert has it right: none of of the rail workers will bother you, and mostly no one is around. Absolutely walk around stationary trains, and keep your ears open.

While we’re (roughly) in the area. Can some one explain what’s up with the road construction in Rankin at the bridge? It looks like it will provide access to the land around Carrie Furnace. Is a development going in?


Italianblend
Participant
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I will definitely try Johnson. So just go up the hill to ihop and across the highway. Thanks. Although I secretly love walking over the tracks.

I have been wondering about that new road as well. I was hoping it was another way to get to waterfront. But probably not. The sign does say something about the furnace trail.


Steven
Participant
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Perhaps the construction is the flyover ramp described here?


Ahlir
Participant
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Yes, it’s the flyover. I had never bothered to stop and look. Thanks.
I wonder if the land between the rail tracks, with the neat brick street, will be redeveloped. (And I’m hoping they keep the street as is…)

re @helen s’s comment: Johnston is a good route, though of course you basically bypass Duck Hollow altogether. At the bottom of 2nd, you can continue over the Glenwood Br and connect to the trails on the other side. At Brownsville the street is signed Imogene and a block up from the ‘Old’ Brownsville Rd that leads down to Duck Hollow.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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i was down in that area last weekend, that roadworks just off the Rankin Bridge is indeed the flyover ramp in progress.

> none of of the rail workers will bother you, and mostly no one is around.

counter-example: a friend ran into some posted guards near the end of the DH trail. apparently the pickup in bike traffic has led to the RR hiring security in addition to putting up the fence, though the one they ran into was willing to pretend to assume they’d gotten lost and didn’t know the tracks were there.

meanwhile, another friend and i ran into someone at the point where the connection from the Junction Hollow trail crosses the tracks into Schenley, who silently but ostentatiously pointed at and underlined the ‘no trespassing’ sign. this is the same railroad, so while i’d initially thought he’d just happened to be there, i’m increasingly skeptical.


Ahlir
Participant
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@b²: good points.

I haven’t been through there for a bit, but the RRCo in the past while added a siding (maybe two) and fenced in the area. All those maybe exploding gas trains… So it’s now a more “active” yard. I can see that they would put in an effort in communicating the new state of affairs. But those bulls are expensive, and they’re probably gone by now.

The Saline/JTrail “shortcut” used to be ignored by the RR. But these days they’re running all these gas trains and the line is way more busy. They’ve blocked up the path (really an RR access road), and (maybe) detailed a bull to scare people off, for a while.

I used to think it was hip to go over that way. But then I noticed, that on the whole, it was much less work to continue on to 2nd (the street) and ride up Swinburne…


Italianblend
Participant
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Going to Johnson is also a steep climb, is it not? I’m talking about the path off of commercial that’s gravelly, you would make a right and head up the steep hill to where the ihop is. Or am I getting this wrong?


Ahlir
Participant
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If I got it right, the gravelly/steep/IHOP bit gets you to B’ville. (Which, yes, is a climb.)
You now have to go Right and up one light to Imogene. Then turn Left onto Imogene.

It’s then a moderate climb (maybe longer than you wanted) followed by a glide down Johnston. But do explore! You might to get to check out the remnants of the Kane system, or find yourself at the foot of Tesla. Rowr.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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I live in Edgewood, and Hot Metal Bridge is a common destination. Some of my routes:

Shortest: Savannah, L on Forbes and then Aylesboro across Squirrel Hill, get to Wilkins, then Beeler, then Forbes, R on Craig, R on Fillmore, R on Neville, which turns into Boundary and takes you to Junction Hollow Trail.

Slow but Scenic: Hutchinson, R on Lancaster, down into Frick Park, Falls Ravine Trail up the valley in Frick Park, Bartlett west across Squirrel Hill to Bartlett & Panther Hollow Rd, then take Panther Hollow Trail down through Schenley Park, past the lake, carry bike across the RR tracks, then you’re on Junction Hollow Trail.

Least elevation gain: from Braddock Ave & Allenby Ave, take Braddock Trail and Nine Mile Run Trail through Frick Park all the way to Duck Hollow Trail to end, then cross RR track (ugh), then either
a) 2nd Ave which becomes Irvine St all the way (car traffic), or
b) get onto sidewalk of Glenwood Bridge and cross the Mon River, take stairs down, L onto sidewalk, down another set of stairs, L on Baldwin Rd, zigzag past the scrap metal business, cross RR tracks, get on GAP trail under the Glenwood Bridge, follow trail downstream.

A variation on this last one is: Nine Mile Run Trail, R on Old Brown’s Hill Rd (instead of going down to Duck Hollow), climb hill up to Brown’s Hill Rd, L on the sidewalk of the Homestead-Grays Bridge, then down through the streets/parking lots of the Waterfront to the GAP trail.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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FYI I crossed the RR tracks at the end of the Duck Hollow Trail, under Glenwood Bridge, yesterday and everything went smoothly, same as it has in the past.

We all need to keep using these connections so those that would like to pinch off pedestrian and cyclist routes (such as Allegheny Valley Railroad) don’t get the idea that they can bully us.


alanowski
Participant
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When travelling west and coming out the end of Nine Mile Run trail (I think it’s the end, down from the IHOP) – How do I get to the Duck Hollow Trail?

I’ve been making that climb up to Brownsville, over the bridge then through to the Sandcastle trail, would love to cut out Brownsville and the High level bridge in my commute downtown.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Turn the other way on Old Browns Hill and go to the bottom. At the end, turn right and cross the parking lot–the entrance to Duck Hollow is at the far end of the lot.

Unfortunately, even if you can get past the railroad, you’ve still got to deal with Second Avenue/Irvine St/Speedway 885….


abf
Member
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It would be awesome if there were a small path leading from the deadend of the Duck Hollow Trail until near the Glenwood Bridge, and then a set of steps going up to the bridge sidewalk.

Even a temporary-ish wooden staircase with some supports (see here for an sample illustration of supports) would go a long way to making this connection for many people who do not want to, or are prevented from, crossing the RR tracks.

All the railroad would have to do is move the barbed-wire(!) fence at the end of the trail close to the bridge.


chrishent
Member
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So, if I understood correctly from some of the posts in this thread, is the fence at the end of Duck Hollow trail near the Glenwood Br passable?


tucksayre
Member
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Yes…the fence is at the very end, but there is no fence where the rail bridge comes over the trail (about 100′ before the end of the trail). Also a tree has collapse the fence towards the river, so it may even be passable now.

I only know that when I run, I see a cyclist or two go out and never return…so it can’t be too hard.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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Six University of Pittsburgh civil engineering seniors are doing a presentation on the morning of Friday 4/21 with a design for a ramp from the end of the Duck Hollow Trail up to the sidewalk of Glenwood Bridge. Open to the public.

Note: there is currently no money for construction. But if their design is good, it might be used as a starting point for future design and construction work.

what: University of Pittsburgh’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Senior Design Project Colloquium

when: Friday, April 21, 2017, this presentation at 10am (colloq. goes on 9am-4pm)

where: Room 229, Benedum Hall, O’Hara St near Bouquet St, U. of Pittsburgh campus.

From 10am-11: a multi-discipline team led by geotechnical engineering student Nicholas Van Atta will present a project consisting of the design of a practical connection between the Duck Hollow hiking/biking trail and the Hazelwood neighborhood, a connection currently prevented by five lines of railroad track (CSX and Allegheny Valley Railroads). Three major alternatives were evaluated, including providing a link to the Glenwood Bridge, which spans the tracks. Construction management student Casey Marchfeld; structures students Max Beedle, Richard Jones, and Scott Overacker; and geotechnical engineering student Breanna Bogan make up the rest of the team. Dr. Kent Harries mentored the structural students on this team, as well as on several other teams.

(note: at 3pm a different team will discuss designs to reduce traffic problems on I-376 at the Squirrel Hill exit)

contact: professor John Oyler, oyler1@pitt.edu

 


Eric
Member
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Will the ramp just be on the Pittsburgh side or will there be another ramp by sandcastle to connect with the gap?

 

Is there utility to have a ramp just on one side? (I’ve never bikes that side so I don’t know)


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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It’s via staircase, so it’s rough by bike and probably impossible by wheelchair, but a connection does exist from the Glenwood sidewalk to the GAP at Sandcastle. On the other hand, there’s currently no connection at all from the bridge (or Hazelwood in general) to the Duck Hollow Trail.


Eric
Member
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Got it.  Does the Glenwood bridge connect at the gap where the gap crosses that driveway behind sandcastle? (Ie,where the yellow slalom gates are)


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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@edronline: yes, at Haysglen St. Here’s an annotated aerial view of the connection: GAP trail in green, connection to Glenwood Bridge sidewalk in blue.

The upper stairs are currently partially blocked by construction. They’re probably passable currently, but you may have to step around obstacles. This connection has always been lousy. As a member of the Steel Valley Trail Council I’ve had some communication with engineering companies contracting to PennDOT to do refurbishment of the south end of the Glenwood Bridge. PennDOT’s priority has been cars (as always) but we were told a few years ago that the plan is to redesign the stairs and replace them with ADA-compliant ramps. I hope that happens! I’m currently trying to get in touch with engineers at CDM Smith to monitor these plans and make sure they haven’t forgotten about cyclists and pedestrians.

glenwood_aerial_se_annotated


Benzo
Participant
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Alternatively, for a one way connection, you can take the stairs down and then go right and follow the shoulder of the exit ramp, make a left on Glass run rd, left on baldwin st and follow that to the trail.  For a time they had jersey barriers creating a protected path on the shoulder, not sure if that’s still in place, if so, then you can probably use it two way instead of just from Glenwood bridge to GAP


paulheckbert
Keymaster
#

The design for the connecting ramp from Duck Hollow Trail to Glenwood Bridge was estimated to cost $1.5M by the University of Pittsburgh students Nicholas Van Atta, Breanna Bogan, and others. They gave their presentation on 4/21. I thought it was overall a good proposal. Their written report should be available in a week.

By the way, I sent Allegheny Valley Railroad an email in advance of the presentation because I thought they might want to send an engineer to attend as an outreach gesture. (CSX owns the rails and AVR has trackage rights). I received a hastily-written, rude email. What is AVR’s problem? They can’t avoid being part of the Hazelwood community in future years. This is where they have their railyard. Why don’t they invest a little effort into getting along with their neighbors?

DSC04570

DSC04567


Italianblend
Participant
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Thanks Paul, this would be awesome. By the way, what exactly did their reply email say?


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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Allegheny Valley Railroad (AVR) wants to discourage all thinking about trail connections at the end of the Duck Hollow Trail. They stand in the way of connecting Hazelwood to neighboring communities. Their apparent refusal to discuss options is bad for Almono, bad for Hazelwood, and bad for Pittsburgh.


Italianblend
Participant
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Could they legally block the construction of the proposed ramp?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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That email exchange would be helpful in figuring out what to do next. Geeze, it feels like we’re renegotiating the SALT-II treaty with the Soviet Union.

On the other end of that area, I would like to build a hovenring directly over their blessed railway, just so we don’t have to deal with them. “Here, railroad folks, two things that will get us off your backs for years, and all you have to do is shut up.”


Benzo
Participant
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Dang. That routing and ramp look to be damn near ideal. I hope that someone is able to get a grant to make this actually happen.


jonawebb
Participant
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I understand that AVRR has a lease to the track; nothing else. They’ve been aggressive trying to turn whatever rights the lease gives them into revenue. So the thing to do is to get some politicians to negotiate with them. A deal can be worked out.


jonawebb
Participant
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Relevant (and also interesting for those of your living near the railroad in Swissvale): http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2017/04/25/Norfolk-Southern-double-stack-cars-20-million-pa-railroad-grant/stories/201704250052
Note:

The recipients of the other grants approved Monday were:

• Allegheny Valley Railroad Co., $1,032,168 ($1.5 million total cost) to rehabilitate the 36th Street Trestle bridge to increase capacity by eliminating weight restrictions.

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