Last section of GAP
when will the last section of the GAP be finished? i heard november. is this true?
Unfortunately, I am hearing it won’t be finished this year.Hopefully it will be finished in 2013,but even that is no guarantee.Can’t wait till it’s completed
What’s the hold-up? Seems like Pgh would want to capitalize on that trail and showcase the Southside & downtown. What a bummer!
6 or 7 messages up from the bottom, has a link to this newsletter: http://www.steelvalleytrail.org/eNewsletters/eNewsletter120827.pdf
which gives some info…
Take Away: Not this year. Likely not next year. “They” really are working on it, there’s just not a large number of “them”.
“There is a lot happening along our trail and adjacent segments. We hope to make the longawaited, official connection of the Great Allegheny Passage with the Three Rivers Heritage Trail this spring in time for the 2013 biking season.”
That kind of sounds like next year to me. No guarantees, obviously, but I don’t see anything in that newsletter that says “Likely not next year.”
I’ve been driving by Keystone Metals all summer long and there was a lot of earth movment until about a month ago. It stopped for most of August. Monday it seems to have picked up. I’m not sure if that activity is trail related, but I think it is. If you Google Keystone Metals and GAP, you’ll find some pdf’s with PA DOT related work. It looks like spring 2013 is a bit optomistic, we can only hope. I’m about ready to take a few bags of concrete to the make shift trail along the tracks to fill in the areas where the rain cuases huge puddles!
Alan, you’re hopefully right. My assumption was based on the advertised completion dates for 2009, 2010, and 2011. I suffer at times from “the only good date is in the past”-itis, something that makes my attempted eternal optimism difficult at times.
I guess glass-half-full analysis should dictate: if they’ve been close enough to advertise a completion date for so long, they can’t help but complete it very soon (next year is soon!).
the science behind the question what if a glass was really half empty
Those interested in keeping up-to-date on the status of this section of trail can also follow the Steel Valley Trail Council on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SteelValleyTrail). I think we should be linking to all newsletters on there, which will include any trail construction updates as we get them.
@sarapgh2 great idea. and, thanks everyone for the information and discussion. if they’d let me dig and pour concrete, i’d be happy to help get this thing FINISHED!
Anonymous 08/31/2012 at 5:34pm #
there is going to be one hellava ribbon cutting party when it does get finished….if they can stop people from riding through that section long enough to put one up.
Someone told me that the major detour on the C&O canal will even be finished next weekend (the 7 mile detour south of Williamsport around the washed out section of trail).
Now, people run their mouth all the time and have no idea what they are talking about, but is that true? That was the first I had heard anything other than “They are never going to fix that mess.”
Would be pretty sad if they can fix THAT section before they can finish a 1/4 mile path to the sandcastle parking lot.
The “trail” through McKeesport is pretty crappy too but it all seems to be gettting nicer as the years go by!
I’d love to see the day when you can actually go from point park to the end without being on a road (much). I doubt it will ever be 100% road free.
It was nice last weekend to go on a long ride without getting honked at for once! I did get some a-hole jogger just outside of D.C. screaming at me calling me a “MF” and all that, but I expect that from the assholes who live down there. D.C. is my least favorite place on the entire earth.
@adam where did you get the info. about the big slackwater detour being finished soon? we’re riding from hancock into DC at the end of september. having pedaled the whole thing, from pitt to DC back in june, and enduring the 6 mile detour in the heat of a very hot day…MAN, would it be awesome to NOT have to endure that again.
This NPS page (dated July 2012) says “Work on the elevated walkways and the towpath is expected to continue in the next several weeks as the contractor moves toward substantial completion of the project.” There’s no more definite completion date on that page (but there is an NPS phone number there for more info).
There’s been continual low-level chatter about this on the C&O Canal Yahoo Group, it was originally scheduled to be done in May and it’s been slid twice. Things we’re sure of: there’s definitely a lot of work being done and money being spent. Rumor: going to be open soon. It might be worth posting your question on the C&O Yahoo Group.
@julieb — it was some random dude I met on the trail. I don’t mind the detour myself other than the steep climb up past the barns (going south). I had to walk that one since my loaded bike felt like it was about 60lbs and by that point my knees were a bit pained… However the ride on pavement for the 6 miles or so was a nice break on the ole’ taint!
It is amazing how slow you feel once you get onto roads with rolling hills etc. after you have been on a flat rail trail for over 200 miles though! I was REALLY concentrating on carrying enough momentum on every downhill stretch to carry me back up the next hill.
I have yet to ride my bike since I got home the other day and I can’t wait to see what it feels like after getting all that weight off the back!
Anonymous 09/06/2012 at 1:50pm #
I just rode from pitt to dc about 3 weeks ago and we talked to two old gentlemen that ride that section almost daily. They both said, when there is no construction workers there they ride through that section. But the day we talked to them they didn’t make it through because they had a crane in the middle of the trail.
putting what they said together with what Adam discovered, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s ready by the end of September.
@adam, you’re right. there were stretches on that detour that weren’t bad, and a nice reprieve from the trail. still, i too had a heavily loaded bike (my first “tour” and i was carrying way more than i needed), and with the heat the day we were riding, it was just plain hard.
@rambo, i hope you’re right. we’ll be on that stretch on friday, sept. 28, so i would most likely not stay on the trail in the event that we might end up having to turn around and backtrack.
Anonymous 09/06/2012 at 3:06pm #
I wish you luck! We were hoping it would be ready for our ride and were very disappointed when it wasn’t. I wouldn’t suggest riding through unless it’s official open for the reason you posted, it’s hard to back track when you’re through riding.
FWIW I came across a semi-recent news story discussing this.
Dated 8/19, the article says
Copenhaver said the park service hopes to reopen the area around mid-September.
Anonymous 09/10/2012 at 12:59pm #
SOOOOOO awesome!! can’t wait till my next pitt to DC ride…
I have to agree about back-tracking! I was willing to play chicken with a 1200lb bull because I didn’t want to have to turn around and take a detour around that section of trail so badly. I’m glad I had the sense to run away and wait until other bikers joined my “posse” to convince it to get off the trail first though!
I also had way too much crap with me, most of which got used, or are things you need to bring but hope you never use. I just got these VERY BIG Axiom Dutch Shopper panniers and other than some rigging with paracord to keep them from flopping into my spokes those suckers hold a TON OF GEAR compared to most other panniers I see. They are not the best quality in terms of waterproofness etc but they are so large I carried way more than necessary to do the trip and didn’t have any other “baggage” whatsoever on the bike or back.
I still haven’t had a chance to go riding since I got back but am greatly looking forward to feeling a normal weight bike under my legs when I can this week!
Man — only Sandcastle remains in the way of having a completed trail! It would be SWEET to be able to do that ride next year if it is 100% finished! All the new sections are pretty nice riding — albeit McKeesport is a bit of a mess, but it keeps getting better. I really like the solitude and peacefulness of this ride and it allowed me to hammer out so many miles my metabolism has been on fire since I got back. I’ve dropped 10lbs in the week or so since I got back with no effort.
Anonymous 09/10/2012 at 5:38pm #
the sandcastle gap doesn’t bother me. it’s so easy to get around.
@Vannevar That is good new! Particularly the pic.
I was told when I went through there three years ago, taht even if they fixed it, it would just wash out with any kind of spring high water, but the pic shows concrete – which will be a mess during aflood, but quick enough to clean up.
I agree that the Sandcastle section is easy enough. The railroad gravel has been ridden on so many times only a small stretch of THAT is even “lumpy” anymore — but it still would be nice when it is “officially” done.
That concrete stretch on the C&O will be just as nice of a crotch break as the paved road detour it seems with the added bonus of not going on a 7 mile ride just to be one mile closer to the end.
Anonymous 09/10/2012 at 6:49pm #
speaking of the “crappy” surface on the C&O. I talked to an old guy in OLDTOWN, MD just before the paw paw tunnel, he said they are stocking up on crushed limestone just down the road and are planning a huge resurfacing of the towpath in that section. I’ve also seen where they started upgrading the path in other section too. Maybe after the big slackwater detour is finished the money will start going to making the towpath surface better.
When the twopath was made into a park, it was intended primarily as a hiking path.
There is a constituancy which would like to see the trail remain as close to it’s original state as a mule path. Those folks aren’t jerks or anti-bike or anything, they just want a little historic preservation.
The only reason we have the C&O is the historic preservation perspective – and for years before we had the GAP, the C&O was just outstanding. I rode the C&O in 1994 and I thought it rocked. Now that I’m spoiled by the GAP, the C&O could suffer in contrast.
They’re different things; steak and ice cream, and if I may you’ve got to enjoy each one on it’s own merits.
The GAP is a relatively new trail built with modern techniques, materials, engineering techniques and contemporary safety standards.
The C&O Canal trail is a Civil War donkey path. I really really enjoyed parvipica’s comment, “When people say the C&O towpath is rustic and primitive, what they mean to say is that it is a shitshow squirrel path tour of hell.”
There’s a lot of history along the C&O and for a lot of people, paving or changing it is anethema and I get that. It’s all good.
I think a reasonable compromise can be made using crushed limestone to produce a trail with a reasonably smooth surface that still retains the link with the trail’s history. The way it is now, the trail is not really being maintained for any use, so it ends up being a walking trail since that’s the least demanding use. And it’s not really usable as an extension of the GAP since that accommodates all types of riders and the C&O trail is really only good for mountain bikers with suspension.
I am not opposed either way. I don’t think the C&O trail is so bad that you can’t ride it with a road bike. I won’t really ever ride a mountain bike on it again. My only “problem” was that my shimano racing wheel got a little out of true getting “beat on” by some rougher trail coupled with my overweight ass and heavily laden panniers putting un-necessary forces on the wheel.
I never thought the surface was too rough to ride though. It does suck when it rains and those tire ruts fill with water, but even the GAP trail surface turns very slow when it rains and it goes from feeling like pavement to your wheels being sucked down into the surface.
Just ride the widest road tires you can use on your rims (700x28s or wider) and have some sort of tread.
You do need to pay more attention on the C&O in my opinion. I literally fell asleep (like a car drifting into the rumble strips) once on part of the GAP near Cumberland while riding 160 miles in a day — but I don’t think there is a stretch on the C&O which would be forgiving in that respect LOL.
There are certainly more spoke busters — sticks and branches that like to reach out and wedge themselves into your wheels on the C&O.
I was actually remembering the C&O to be much worse than it was last week when I rode. I hadn’t ever ridden that on a road bike before and was expecting to get much more beat up than I did over it. Although I was fine riding the C&O into the late hours of the night on my mountain bike where I never felt safe riding after dark on the road bike since a MTB is more forgiving if you run over anything harmful to the wheels.
Historically speaking — was the C&O towpath ALWAYS a set of 2 ruts running in parallel? I think bike traffic has already made the trail historically inaccurate!
Reminds me of the south side historical Nazis running around suing people for using the wrong kind of paint on signs, yet letting corporate monstrosities like the “KenTacoHut” to open up and do what they want.
I’m sure the “original” C&O path in Cumberland wasn’t laid out in nice red brick as a path through town surrounded by nice bars and restaurants.
You might think crushed limestone is a reasonable compromise, but there are historic presevationists that do not agree.
They really want two tracks with mud. That is what the trail was when there were canal boats and that is what they want it to be now.
I hiked along with one as a break from riding when I did one of my trips.
I do believe the trail was initially made by teamd of mules walking two parallel. I could be wrong about that.
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