Duck Hollow Connection to Hazelwood

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erlynn86
Member
#

I apologize in advance if this topic is redundant; however, the most recent threads I can find are from 2016 and prior.

I have seen older discussions regarding the ability to cross the RR tracks at the western end of the Duck Hollow Trail, near the Glenwood Bridge, and hop onto 2nd Avenue in Hazelwood. I understand that a fence has been put up but perhaps the tracks are still passable. Has anybody had success in crossing the tracks here and crossing into Hazelwood recently? I live in Swisshelm Park but work just across the Hot Metal Bridge, so I’m looking for the easiest commute to/from work. This route looks promising if it’s still possible.

Also, I saw that some Pitt students put together a proposal for a connector from Duck Hollow to the Glenwood bridge but assume this isn’t something we can expect to happen anytime soon. Does anyone know if there are any updates on this?

Thanks in advance! I appreciate any insight anyone has!


cycleguy
Member
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My daughter ,who majored in civil engineering at Carnegie Mellon in 1997-19998, was working ,along with fellow Carnegie students, on a biking/ hiking trail from downtown to the Swissvale area along the Mon River.That was almost 22 years ago!!!Unfortunately it turned out to be just a pipe  dream and I unfortunately do not see it coming again to fruition anytime soon.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I’ve heard nothing about this link in a good long while. Losing “cowchip”, a regular on this board, a couple of years ago in a drowning accident, knocked the wind out of this project’s sails.

I do not recommend trying to cross the tracks at a non-crossing. Trains are frequent and move quickly, and with I think five tracks to cross, it’s not clear which might have an oncoming train. Legalities aside, it’s just not safe.

What we need is an elevated structure that can get the trail up above any freight traffic. This is probably what your daughter helped design 22 years ago. Part of that or a similar project was a proposal for a “marsupial footpath” under the Glenwood Bridge, thus allowing a direct connection to the GAP, as well.

I wouldn’t stop there, though. Beyond Duck Hollow, we also need a direct connection from Hazelwood to the Eliza Furnace Trail, and the ability to handle about 10X the bike traffic that’s already at the junction of Irvine-Greenfield-Saline-Second-EFT.

Further, a direct connection into Braddock from the other end of Duck Hollow would be very helpful, as of course a connection through the Westinghouse flood gate. I would sincerely like to have a level path free of heavy traffic from Trafford to Braddock to Duck Hollow to Hazelwood to EFT to downtown. While we’re at it, how about a direct connection from Saline St to the Pocusset Trail, a direct connection Becks Run Rd to the GAP, and directly from GAP to Kennywood. That set of connections would redefine bike transportation in and along the Mon Valley.

Just imagine, being able to bike from Carrick to Squirrel Hill, or Glass Run Rd to Braddock, or Dynamo Way in East Pittsburgh into downtown, or anywhere in the area to Kennywood, without dealing with car traffic.


chrishent
Member
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Worth noting that, according to Twitter sources (I think one of them is BikePGH), the Duck Hollow trail is currently closed for safety reasons. Last year’s precipitation caused landslides and instability in the area, and it is unclear when it will be reopened by DPW. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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I’ve agitated for better trail connections near the Glenwood Bridge for about ten years. Here’s an op-ed I wrote to the Post-Gazette and below is my map: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2017/01/29/Let-s-complete-trails-on-both-banks-of-the-Mon/stories/201701290147

pgh_mon_trails_2016

I’ve written about this issue here on the bikepgh messageboard in the past.

Current status:

The Duck Hollow Trail is open, but there is a sawhorse in one spot on the trail where slumping in 2018 caused the asphalt to crack. Mind the cracks. (DPW put up Trail Closed signs for a few months, but they’re gone now). Trains typically move slowly on this line. I’ve crossed the tracks here about 100 times, as recently as a month ago. If there’s a train parked on the tracks, walk around the end of it.

Prospects for future improvements:

Steel Valley Trail Council, which manages trails along the Mon upstream of Glenwood Bridge, and Friends of the Riverfront, which manages the Duck Hollow Trail and Hazelwood Trail (to be reopened in 2019?) want to see improvements near the Glenwood Bridge. I’m a volunteer with both organizations. We’d like to see:

  • Continuous trail from Hot Metal Bridge through Hazelwood connecting to the Duck Hollow Trail, Rankin, and Braddock.
  • Connections at the Glenwood Bridge allowing cyclists to get from trail to Second Ave toward Hazelwood, and from trail to cross the bridge to reach the GAP trail in Hays.

In a nutshell, there are a handful of people interested in this project, but there’s currently no movement on the idea.

University of Pittsburgh students have done design projects for trail ramps, tunnels, etc but that’s all they are. The professor that assigns the projects doesn’t speak to us in the trail groups (I’ve attempted contact), so the ideas rarely go beyond the classroom.

I’ve spoken to Corey O’Connor (city councilperson) about the idea. He seemed open to it, but he’s not currently pushing it.

Allegheny Valley Railroad (AVR), which leases the railroad tracks from CSX railroad, controls the Glenwood Railyard, which is the major impediment to a trail connection between Hazelwood and the Duck Hollow Trail. Their boss, Russ Peterson, has a history of obstructing trail projects in the Pittsburgh area, unfortunately.

I could use help lobbying for decent trail connections here. Want to help?


Eric
Member
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I googled the name Russ Peterson and I saw a bunch of articles (mainly from 2003 and 2010) about how the AVR was going to build a commuter railroad from Arnold into the city.

I know it’s slightly off topic, but I couldn’t figure out why it was never built?  Peterson did a lot of bragging that he could do it for much cheaper than an agency like the PAAC. I also saw something in there about Buncher and fighting over the area between 16th and 21st street in the strip (where buncher is building stuff now)… So maybe that’s part of it.


erlynn86
Member
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Thank you all so much for your thoughts and updates! Although I’m bummed that the connections are not likely to come to fruition anytime soon, I’m very glad that there are still groups out there lobbying for them.

What a dream it would be to have a connection from downtown or southside, to Hazelwood and Duck Hollow, and then to Braddock as you’ve referenced. I imagine this would also remove cyclists who are currently using busy streets to commute.

How could I help? I’m not experienced at lobbying but I’d definitely like to help in any way I can!


Benzo
Participant
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@Eric- That commuter rail was part of the Allegheny Green Boulevard project which has had almost no movement either. There were meetings, and design concepts, and then the report got put on a shelf somewhere and nobody took the reigns to whip the stakeholders in to implementing it.

  • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Benzo.

paulheckbert
Moderator
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@erlynn86 : Some ideas on how you could help: 1) Write to your city councilperson and/or Corey O’Connor, whose district includes Hazelwood, Glenwood, and Duck Hollow. 2) Write to the mayor. 3) Write to Rich Fitzgerald (County executive). 4) Get involved with Steel Valley Trail Council or Friends of the Riverfront (trail groups). 5) Write a letter to the editor.

What I heard about the Allegheny Green Blvd project (which was hyped/hoped at one point around 2010 to offer the promise of commuter rail and bike trails from The Strip thru Lawrenceville to Oakmont) is that Allegheny Valley Railroad, which owns the rail line, showed interest (teased?) in discussions with the city for several years, but ultimately around 2015 set an unreasonable price for the land they would have sold to the city, scuttling the deal. There are still some remnants of the Green Blvd design plan in the Strip’s current plans to revitalize connections with the Allegheny Riverbank, but there’s no plan for a grand bike/ped/transit boulevard any more.


Eric
Member
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My guess is that AVRR saw it as a way to make money only and when they weren’t going to get the prices they wanted they bolted. How charitable on their part. They also control the brilliant bridge as far as I know and still hold on to it just because.. municipalities aren’t going to give them the $$ they want for it (but the spur goes nowhere) so the CEO looks like Scrooge McDuck.


cycleguy
Member
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I have heard the same, that the AVRR demands a ridiculous amount of money before they will yield the real estate for a bike and pedestrian trail.If they,(AVRR),can’t make a huuuuuge profit from relinquishing this already useless dead property, then AVRR will refuse to let a trail go through, even though it benefits the health and recreation of everybody that lives in the city and eastern suburbs such as Swissvale and Braddock.Greed and money takes over human nature and the AVRR would rather see this property stay dormant,useless and be a white elephant.


Eric
Member
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There is the story that they run a car over the brilliant ave bridge once in a blue moon to keep it “active” with the federal government.

Hopefully when they actually break ground on R47 AVRR will be willing to sell since then that spur will be 100% useless. Before it served the scrapyard that was part of the R47 property. Of course, a more menschlich company would just donate it and get the goodwill and name on the project…


Benzo
Participant
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Public meeting for multimodal corridor study on 2nd ave/irvine st/glenwood bridge (rt 855) study on Februaly 19, 2019! We need safe routes from Downtown & Eliza furnace trail to hazelwood to the GAP and connection to duck hollow trail!

Project Info: https://spcsecondavenue.com/

Link to comment map: https://wikimapping.com/SPC-Second-Ave.html


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I fear that progress with anything involving AVRR will be measured in funerals, not negotiations.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Yes, let’s turn out to this meeting and let SPC know that bike/ped connections from the Duck Hollow Trail through Hazelwood and across the Mon to the GAP are essential! If you can’t come to the meeting, add your comments on the interactive map Benzo shared, https://wikimapping.com/SPC-Second-Ave.html


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Don’t forget Tuesday evening’s meeting about cycling & walking in Hazelwood (details above).

Related news: this story speaks of “a break in a 16-inch water main Friday night on the Duck Hollow Trail in the Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh“. I haven’t seen it firsthand.

https://www.wtae.com/article/precautionary-flush-and-boil-water-advisory-for-several-pittsburgh-neighborhoods/26371536


Eric
Member
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Duck Hollow is one of those places I’ve always meant to go but never have and have been so close to it 100s of times. I assume there’s an access off of Old Browns Hill Road.

How do you go about accessing it from the Eliza Furnace Trail/intersection of 2nd Ave and Greenfield Road?


Eric
Member
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Oh. Wait. I’m dumb. That’s the point of the thread. So I guess the only non difficult way to access the trail is via the parking lot?


cycleguy
Member
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Yes Eric……..Just going to write, letting you know that’s the point!!….There is no connection yet, so as a result, there is no access!! Hopefully some day it can be accessed from the Norrtheast  part of the hot metal bridge parking lot to the bottom of Browns Hill Road,(Duck Hollow),and even beyond to Rankin,Braddock,and Turtle Creek, so you can get to the start of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail in Trafford


Eric
Member
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There’s a crazy stub neighborhood right next to the duck Hollow trail parking lot. I’m going to need to get my bike down there soon to check it out. Who uses the duck Hollow trail? I assume it is a lot of walkers and runners since it is short and out and back only.


erlynn86
Member
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Thank you so much for posting this meeting! Unfortunately, I will be traveling for work this week and be unable to attend but I’ve encouraged those who can to do so!

Silly question, I opened the map provided to add my feedback since I can’t attend. If the barrier has already been added by other users, should I add it as well? I’m not sure if this will help to demonstrate that it’s desired by more people.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Reminder: meeting Tuesday evening 2/19 5-7pm, 300 Saline St to discuss Hazelwood trails.

I confirmed on Sunday: Duck Hollow Trail was severely damaged by a Friday water main break. https://www.wtae.com/article/precautionary-flush-and-boil-water-advisory-for-several-pittsburgh-neighborhoods/26371536

The first .7 miles of Duck Hollow Trail are fine, but then you reach a new barricade and “CLOSED” sign, and just beyond it is this:

IMG_7555

Since February 2018 there’s been slumping of the land at this spot (and slumping here about a decade earlier, too). There’s now a crack in the ground about 350 feet long(!) and 5 to 10 feet deep between the railroad tracks and the trail. The land downhill of the crack has slumped toward the river, dropping up to 10 feet and sliding laterally for up to 10 feet. I wonder whether this is rainfall over several years causing slumping causing water main break, or slow water main leak for several years causing slumping causing big water main break.

The slumping is pretty obvious in this picture.

IMG_7560

But the cracks we’re seeing above are “small” secondary cracks & erosion caused by the water main break, I think. The main crack is up the hill among the trees and shrubs. Here’s a picture of the main crack from a year ago, with dog for scale. The crack has grown since this picture was taken.

DSC00826

So unless somebody carves a new trail into the hillside, Duck Hollow Trail is now half its former length. We need to get the city to fix this trail, and extend it to connect with Hazelwood!


Eric
Member
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It looks like they need to stabilize the entire hillside. Does this have any connection to the houses off of beechwood that have had subsidence issues?(ie same hill/part of the hill?)


Swalfoort
Participant
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Let’s separate the two AVRR questions (Duck Hollow/Glenwood from Allegheny Green Blvd.) for purposes of this discussion.  They are very different issues.

AVRR operates a yard at the west end of Duck Hollow.  A yard operation is even less predictable than a through rail operation, and rail cars can come from a variety of directions, on a moments notice.  Please stay off the tracks here.  (P.S.  before I learned all this, I had carried my bike over those tracks.  It was harder than I expected.  Tripping and falling was not inconceivable.)

Allegheny County and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission have a Study underway NOW called the Second Avenue Multimodal Corridor Assessment (or something similar).  You might have heard about it on WESA over the weekend (I heard the interview about a dozen times.)  The interview focuses on the connection along Second Avenue fr0m downtown to the Allegheny Green (or Almono) site.  HOWEVER, the study team KNOWS that the railyard at the east end of the corridor is an issue for pedestrians and bicyclists attempting to connect to points east of Hazelwood (Homestead, Duck Hollow, Frick Park, etc.

The design of a multimodal corridor that meets the needs of all users (including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, etc). is the goal of the Study.

Please submit your comments to info@spcregion.org on this subject.  You can be succinct, or you can be your usual passionate selves.  The key is to inform the Study team that this multimodal transportation corridor must connect Second Avenue to the east, as well, and that there are pedestrian and bicycle impediments to that connection at this time, in the form off an active rail yard.  An alternate connection to the Duck Hollow Trail should be a clear and logical element of this Study (and corridor design.)

The Study is in the early days.  But that is the best time to get your ideas heard.

 


paulheckbert
Moderator
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A report from Tuesday’s SPC open house about the Second Avenue corridor.

SPC hired Whitman, Requardt, and Associates (WRA), a Baltimore-based company with a Pittsburgh office, as consultants. WRA had prepared posters and had their people available to answer questions and take comments. The poster graphics are visible at https://spcsecondavenue.com/february-9th-public-meeting/ . Look at them.

The study seems to be an attempt to get ahead of the predictable traffic crunch several years hence when Hazelwood Green attracts new businesses, commuters, and residents.

I would have hoped that they identified key questions in advance of this meeting, e.g.

  • What do we do about the Saline/Greenfield/Irvine intersection, which will get worse?
  • What do we do about “the chute” for bicycles and pedestrians there?
  • How do we get a trail through Hazelwood connecting to the Duck Hollow Trail?

But I imagine that people’s comments were reinforcing those issues. Their maps had some bad data:

  • They show a sidewalk the full length of Irvine from Greenfield Ave to Hazelwood Ave! It’s possible to walk that road if you don’t mind stepping into 60 mph traffic (posted speed limit is 25!) to skirt parked cars, dumpsters, and weeds, but I wouldn’t drive a wheelchair along that “sidewalk” or tell my kids to walk it.
  • Their maps show the old Hazelwood Trail, which has been closed for (3?) years.

Some comments I would have enjoyed hearing, but didn’t:

  • Aren’t we glad that the Mon-Fayette Expressway didn’t destroy Hazelwood?

Overall, I was mildly disappointed. They seem over-concerned about one road, just look at the name of the study, and about through-commuters from the South Hills. No mention of the proposed shuttle to Oakland through Junction Hollow! None! (How much have they talked to the Hazelwood Green people, or DOMI?).

A problem I see with the approach is that SPC brought in the WRA consultants, who will review the ideas they collect (from the open house, and from their online map & survey), do field observations, and write a report in a few months with some recommendations, then those consultants will move on to other projects. Some good ideas are getting tossed around, but how much follow-through will there be, say, ten years from now? Wouldn’t it be better to have city or county employees in, say, DOMI, do the study as part of periodic, ongoing review of all Allegheny County transportation?

Schedule:

  • April 2019: public meeting to present WRA’s recommendations
  • May 2019: public meeting to present final report

paulheckbert
Moderator
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Pictures of hand-written comments, from Tuesday’s meeting (click for full resolution):

IMG_7572

IMG_7571


akrizman
Member
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Everyone who would like to see Duck Hollow connected to Hazelwood needs to do this one thing…

 

Take this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PS85JM5

And leave a comment on this interactive map: https://wikimapping.com/SPC-Second-Ave.html

And get others to do the same.

 

OK, that’s three things.

This instruction comes directly from an ally at SPC (The group conducting the Second Avenue Corridor study). She says:

– The 2nd Ave. study is the only opportunity in the foreseeable future to address this issue.
– There is a risk that Duck Hollow could be considered outside the scope of the study.
– Ideas that get only one or two comments are likely to be dismissed.

She suggests that we get other cyclist to take the survey and leave comments asking for a connection to Duck Hollow.

The survey is only live until March 13.


Marko82
Participant
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^done


paulheckbert
Moderator
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See Peduto’s proposal for a bridge connecting Beck’s Run Road and the South Hills across the Mon into Hazelwood Green. Some of the comments are amusing.

https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2019/02/28/Peduto-Hazelwood-Green-Carrick-Allentown-Hilltop-Oakland-universities/stories/201902280021

 


Eric
Member
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Imagine if there was a connector from said bridge to the trail underneath. Nirvana!


erlynn86
Member
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Survey complete and shared with others for completion as well.

@paulheckbert I saw your comment on the article and nearly shared it here until I realized it was yours. Very well stated.

When running recently, I ran across the same massive sinkhole you referenced above on 2/18 (thanks for that). Seems this is another barrier to the project the city won’t be eager to tackle.

I also noticed (for the first time) that there is a marker along the trail that says “7 Miles to the Point.” This shows that the vision when it was constructed was clearly to have a direct path to downtown and has me questioning why they would have started this project if they hadn’t already worked out a plan with AVRR to cross the tracks or connect to the Glenwood Bridge.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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The canopy over Hazelwood Green’s Blair St, under the CSX railroad tracks, also known as “the diaper”, is under construction now, it seems. See 2018/8 update at https://www.hazelwoodgreen.com/trail, which shows canopies for the sidewalk and bike lane on each side of the road, but none for the car lanes. I guess CSX was worried about pedestrians and cyclists getting hit by falling debris from trains, but not worried about motorcyclists or convertible-drivers. That web page also suggests that Blair St and its bike lane should be opening to the public in early 2019, i.e., now.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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A
Member
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Will duck hollow connect to carrie furnace ever. from swissvale going thru carrie furnace to duck hollow to hazelwood trail to eft would be very helpful


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Yes, I expect that within 5 years or so, we’ll have trail or bike lane from Eliza Furnace, through Hazelwood, through Duck Hollow, past Carrie Furnace, to Braddock. We already have the Nine Mile Run trail connecting Duck Hollow to the Swisshelm Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh (close to Swissvale), and Swissvale borough council is starting to talk about working with Rankin to build a trail connecting to Carrie Furnace. Another critical piece will probably take more than 10 years, unfortunately: refurbishing the now-unused Rankin Hot Metal Bridge just downstream of Rankin Bridge. That will be an excellent connection to the GAP trail someday, we hope, but it will cost 25 to 35 million dollars to open the bridge for pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and trucks.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Rankin Hot Metal could be made at least safely useable by peds and cyclists for almost nothing in one season.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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But the northeast end of the Rankin Hot Metal bridge got chopped off a few years ago, so it’s currently a bridge to nowhere.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Canopies (“diapers”) above Blair St in Hazelwood Green are going up.

design drawings

hazelwood_green_csx_canopy

photo from yesterday, shot from the other side of the river. It looks like one of the two canopies has been erected.

DSC06108

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