Impending track closure near Panther Hollow Lake

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byogman
Member
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I think conversation disproportionately centers around stuff that’s complicated or emotional. Bike facilities and all the complexities, bike riding style and tradeoffs depending on the former and road going environment, and of course, the post-facto video and crash stuff creates sort of the perfect storm for that.

There are some technical trade-offs in various sorts of riding, more if you’re trying to push some envelope on performance or capability. I wouldn’t at all mind seeing more of that discussed… especially on the cargo/kiddie end, though I have found something that’s tolerable for my purposes.

But honestly, I’m not that surprised if it runs a little dry there. How much of that stuff is there is to talk about that’s even peripherally relevant to most cyclists, who don’t habitually try and push any envelopes? And once you’ve chosen your rig, how much is there to say about riding a bike? It’s just a simple joy. Speaking of which, it was a freaking gorgeous morning for it, was it not?

Back on the thread topic, when was the last time someone went up via the trail and tracks? If it’s reasonably likely to be clear, this would be a wonderful day to ride up through the gorge.


Benzo
Participant
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Heard at the members meeting: New website and improved message board coming in early 2016. So, maybe a better site and board will draw more voices to the forums (and hopefully the current crowd will not scare them away).


gg
Member
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@jacob Thanks for your comments on this subject. Not sure why anyone would think bike infrastructure isn’t important on a Pittsburgh Bicycle site, but I for one certainly think it is important. I would love safe cycling for all in Pittsburgh. Like any message board, you just read a title and if it is of interest you read it, if it isn’t don’t. Also, if you have questions or want to discuss something post a topic. Lots of great folks here that are super helpful.


dfiler
Member
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Thank you Jacob for sharing your legal knowledge.

ALMBLM, You’re welcome to start other threads and discuss other topics. I would enjoy reading those as well. No sense in criticizing those who want to discuss the closure of bicycle routes that they use. The BikePGH forum is the perfect place for that discussion.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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I went by the crossing at Panther Hollow Lake (where the railroad crosses the trail) yesterday and it was fine.


Mikhail
Member
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John, one more time:
1. Rails and the tunnel are CSX property.
2. Constables are hired by AVR.
3. CSX is not interested in crossing. Fence is much cheaper but it still costs some money. CSX is not going to talk to the government about at grade crossing because the government is the one that discourages this type of crossings. CSX is happy about the current state.
4. AVR is not interested in crossing since tracks are not their.

Think who is paying for what.


eMcK
Participant
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I’m haven’t lived close enough in years to know if it still runs, but the AVR used to run a train or two a day through the Strip District on a track that has dozens of at-grade crossings, including new pedestrian crossings for the Cork Factory lofts and the newer retail building in front of it.

Maybe they stopped this practice, but the tracks seem to get regular use. Seems an odd tact to take if they control (can we really use the word “own” for an easement?) both the Junction Hollow track and the Strip District track.


Benzo
Participant
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AVR does still run trains in the strip and in lawrenceville, and yes, there are MANY crossings along that rail line. Though, it’s typically only local deliveries on those tracks from what I understand, and not really through traffic as on much of the other tracks which are causing problems for trail connectivity. Also, most of the train traffic is at night in the strip and lawrenceville, likely to avoid conflicts with auto traffic.


Mikhail
Member
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Seems an odd tact to take if they control (can we really use the word “own” for an easement?) both the Junction Hollow track and the Strip District track.

CSX controls (and I think owns tracks along junction hollow and tunnel. All of them are in our software where GIS data are provided by CSX.


helen s
Participant
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If one were so inclined, there was no guard stationed at the track crossing this afternoon. I did not notice any cameras, but a lot of the brush had been cleared from the area.

This got me wondering- where does the park land stop and the railroad land start? Who owns the side nearest the trail- and if not the railroad, is that a legitimate parking place open to the public?


jonawebb
Participant
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It’s all city land. But don’t park there. I posted a link to the Allegheny county map a ways back.


Ahlir
Participant
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AVR/CSX recently put in a gate on the shortcut between Saline and the UPMC parking lot (complete with a No Trespassing-ish sign).

But other than hiring some bulls they haven’t done anything concrete about the Panther Hollow crossing (like gating or fencing).
I mean, there looks to be be new fencing downhill from there; what’s the problem with going all the way? I can’t help thinking that this means that the crossing is a legal right-of-way. Can anyone explain how to positively determine its status?
At the very least people could print out the relevant document and show it to the bulls when they cross.

I fully accept AVR’s right to protect itself from legal action (and, secondarily, ensure public safety). But they should also be willing to just solve the problem (with a signaled crossing or an overpass) rather than screwing around by having “constables” intimidating innocent citizens. (And, as a peeve, why is it that they get to drive their vehicles up to the crossing? Isn’t the trail supposed to be only for ped/bike/official?)


jonawebb
Participant
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I think the railroad owns the land where they built the fence between Saline St and the Eliza Furnace Trail parking lot. See http://www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/Map.aspx?ParcelID=0029M00151000A02%20%20%20%20&SearchType=2&CurrRow=16&SearchName=&SearchStreet=saline&SearchNum=&SearchMuni=&SearchParcel=&pin=0029M00151000A02

Owner is B&O Railroad.
The Panther Hollow crossing & adjacent property is all owned by the city, so no fence, I think.


Ahlir
Participant
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B&O? Could be. the RR map says it’s CSX. In any case AVR is leasing the rail from whoever, and they’re most likely the problem.


The Panther Hollow crossing & adjacent property is all owned by the city, so no fence, I think.

Surely there’s at least 6″ (or whatever) on the RR property for a fence. I mean, it’s there a bit further down.

So what’s with the bulls? Why do they get to occupy public property (so to speak) for the purpose of intimidate citizens?
That’s all wrong.


jonawebb
Participant
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The railroad company owns the tracks, not the property, as I understand it. Mikhail knows more. They have a primary right there, which means something special legally. I had a lawyer friend attempt to explain it.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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The constables seem to be there at the Panther Hollow crossing about half the times I’ve been by (mostly afternoons) in the past two weeks. I’ve seen them there on a Saturday. And I’ve seen them not there on a Wednesday. Also, some days there are yellow ribbons up and other days they’re gone.

PS: B&O got absorbed into CSX years ago.


helen s
Participant
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It sounds like form what I am reading above, there should not be any automobiles driven up the bike path and parked on the city land then.
On could be inclined to call 311 or 911 next time I see cars parked there.


Mikhail
Member
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http://www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/Map.aspx?ParcelID=0029S00250000C02%20%20%20%20&SearchType=3&CurrRow=0&SearchName=&SearchStreet=&SearchNum=&SearchMuni=&SearchParcel=0029s00250000c02&pin=0029S00250000C02 — CSX property — this where they cut off UPMC Parking Lot to Saline short cut.

http://www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/GeneralInfo.aspx?ParcelID=0028S00250000000%20%20%20%20&SearchType=3&SearchParcel=0028s00250 — the rest of tracks is City of Pittsburgh. But it’s a separate “parcel” and it shows, IMHO, that it’s a special case. There are fences along this lot so it does not matter if this is a city or someone else owns it.


jonawebb
Participant
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Well, except that they might have to get the city’s permission before building on city land.


Ahlir
Participant
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@Mikhail’s pointer is interesting.

The parcel in question includes a chunk of the trail. What does that mean? Is everyone using the Junction Hollow trail trespassing? On what, exactly?

Also, There’s $913.30 back taxes due on the parcel for this year (it has a $172.4k valuation). Taxes have been delinquent for the past 4 years. Yes, the City is the owner of record; so what’s up with that?

It’s all very confusing.


gg
Member
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Ahlir, maybe we will get lucky and Jacob would enlighten us. He sure knows about this stuff. It really saddens me to hear the RR still hires constables to threaten people crossing in that place people have been crossing for probably over 100 years or even more. What a shame.


jonawebb
Participant
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That article from the Tartan reminded me of a route I took through CMU’s campus Saturday when the Panther Hollow link was being guarded. Maybe it’s not obvious, so here’s the route: ride along the trail and then follow Boundary Street to the CMU parking garage. Enter the parking garage and follow the walking path up through the hollow between Wean Hall (big concrete building on your right) and the various robotics / CS buildings on the left. It’s a fairly easy climb up to the parking lot exit to Forbes. There are some dead ends where you come to a stairway, but you can do the entire climb without ever having to get off your bike.
You could also continue to your right and ride through CMU’s campus to Frew Street and Schenley Drive.
Of course, on all of the walking paths watch out for students etc.


gg
Member
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Jon, I have done that many times, but lets face it, it sucks. The wonderful trail by the pond is a wonderful ride. Lots of nature and just amazing. It reminds us all of times gone by, since now it is so different. Many years ago people were really kind to one and other. Not it is all about attorney’s and lawsuits, so everyone turned ugly. I really can’t stand the ambulance chasing attorneys like Snyder and the likes. YUCK! What an existence. How proud they must be. Geez!


Ahlir
Participant
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@gg: Yes, ambulance chasers are indeed a specie of bottom-feeder. But Edgar Snyder is actually supportive of cycling (beyond its revenue potential).

People on the whole are still kind and supportive, by and large.
The remainder are a minority. All I can say is: make sure you vote.
And show up for all those boring community meetings to tell your representatives what’s important; otherwise someone else will.

[as an out-of-band/not a flame-bait comment: in nature, bottom feeders actually serve a valuable function. They keep the, uh, bottom clean.]


paulheckbert
Moderator
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At crossing of RR tracks near Panther Hollow Lake, looking south along Junction Hollow Trail. Note the recently-cut trees and the chipped wood. Who did this, and why?


gg
Member
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Good question Paul. I haven’t been down there for a few days. Not getting my hopes up considering the renter of the RR tracks hires hitmen to keep people from crossing an area that has been crossed for over 100 years. Oh well.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Last year Roy Weil and Mary Shaw alerted me to a trail that was built in the 90s connecting from the Bridle Trail in Schenley Park down to Four Mile Run near Proctor’s Garage on Boundary St. It had become overgrown, so over the past few months, I and Roy cleared the trail of fallen trees and brush so that it’s now passable again. Not bikeable all the way, unless you’re a very good mountain biker, but easily walkable. Many could bike at least half of it. The trail is quite wide in places — it must have been created with a bulldozer or other heavy equipment. Mary tells me that Larry Ridenour was responsible for the original construction.

We’ve christened it the “Zigzag Trail” and I entered it into Google Maps using Mapmaker. If you use Google Maps and ask for cycling directions from Bartlett and Hobart to Big Jim’s, it now recommends this route, as shown below. On this map I’ve highlighted it in magenta. To find the trail, look for yellow ribbons marking the way.

If AVR harassment of people crossing the railroad tracks at Panther Hollow Lake resumes, this connector, though not perfect, should help cyclists and pedestrians get through.

An old post about the Zigzag Trail (from Mary Shaw, 2015/7/23): https://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/impending-track-closure-near-panther-hollow-lake/#post-315179


lenticular truss
Member
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Great, thank you! I will try this tomorrow. I did try to get up to the bridle trail a few weeks ago, but I think I must have missed the first switchback “zig,” because while there was a path it seemed pretty freaking steep, especially pushing my commuter bike. I think I came out further north, too, closer to the WPA bridge. I will keep an eye out for the yellow markers.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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How different is this from the goat path I traversed last summer?


paulheckbert
Moderator
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@stuinmccandless: As I mentioned, this trail is very wide in places, making it more bikeable. Its average grade is lower. See comparison of Zigzag and “Goat” trails here: http://goo.gl/lT0LWO


lenticular truss
Member
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Ah, yes – I was definitely on the goat path! It was fun to do once…


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I won’t be able to get over there with video for several days. Can someone else do that? Bottom to top, top to bottom, preferably both?

Note that last summer, before I ran video on the Bridle-Junction goat path, I looked for any other path off the Bridle Trail. I would have gone past the split for Zigzag twice and not seen it. So half the battle of using either of these is finding it in the first place.


dfiler
Member
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Good work on getting that mapped! Though I would suggest a name other than zigzag trail. Perhaps something like Junction Hollow Connector.


stefb
Participant
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Thank you. I just noticed the clearing the other day but didn’t explore it.


Benzo
Participant
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I rode up this the other day. I had to push a couple times, but it’s way better than it was in the fall when I decended the trail. Not what I would call a commuter friendly route, but nice to have. I saw some yellow marking tape on the trees, which made it easy to follow.

Ran in to a couple hikers on the way up.


Mick
Participant
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I’ve said this before – I believe that trail was shut down more because the people who lived at the bottom of it did not want foot traffic going through there – like kids drinking beer.

This seems to be the major opposition point for various stairways and pedestrian through routes. Easy enough to make some spurious – and often untrue – claim about safety.


Ahlir
Participant
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So, uh, Mick. Are you suggesting we should have a kegger up there? Maybe try to work something into that East End Brewery ride?
Might work.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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At the meetings last year regarding the ALMONO shuttle proposal, many residents of The Run and Panther Hollow neighborhoods spoke up angrily about the constables’ closure of the Panther Hollow Lake crossing. They like to take walks in Schenley Park. I imagine some of them will welcome the newly-cleared Zigzag Trail (when they discover it) as another way to get into Schenley Park, though it involves a lot more climbing than the RR crossing.

There seems to be at least one person that has torn down yellow ribbons at times in recent months, for unknown reasons, so there could be others that feel differently about it.


J Z
Participant
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This was an interesting listen this morning. *Somebody* mobilized, that’s for sure.

Greenfield Residents Fear Redevelopment Will Pass Them By In Almono Shuttle

http://wesa.fm/post/greenfield-residents-fear-redevelopment-will-pass-them-almono-shuttle

“While families in The Run have been there for three or four generations, up the hill in Greenfield, people are moving in from out of town and out of state to work in Pittsburgh.

Matt Burton, a University of Pittsburgh postdoc, is one of them. He said getting to campus daily is an ordeal.

‘Going the 2 miles that it would take can take upwards of 30 to 45 minutes in a car even,’ he said. ‘And that’s just to get to Oakland from Greenfield.’

Burton said parking for his building has a three-year waitlist and biking is made difficult by the closure of the Greenfield Bridge. He said he finds the bus system slow and unreliable, but likes the idea of a shuttle, as long as it’s open to everyone – a view held by many in Greenfield.”

I dunno, so buy property in South Oakland? Easy access to Downtown & campus.


edmonds59
Participant
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2 freaking miles, an ordeal? Somebody needs to clue postdoc Matt Burton in on the invention of that there bi-cycle.

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