Duck Hollow Connection to Hazelwood

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erlynn86
Member
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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 5 days, 5 hours 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…

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