Newsweek: History's Broken Bike Path (Sandcastle & The GAP)

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jakeliefer
Participant
#

Newsweek just posted an article on the Great Allegheny Passage and the issues surrounding the last mile at Sandcastle. Good to see it’s getting national attention, hopefully a solution will be resolved soon

Newsweek: History’s Broken Bike Path


erok
Keymaster
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wow, i think that means it’s going to be in the print version soon


erok
Keymaster
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I didn’t know this: The federal government purchased the obsolete C&O Canal during the Great Depression, but in the 1950s there was a move to pave it into a parkway. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, an avid outdoorsman, helped quash that plan by leading an eight-day march of the entire route. A subsequent proposal to dam the Potomac River would have flooded much of the towpath. Finally in 1971, it became a national historical park.


sloaps
Participant
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The article is heavy on the historical significance of the land, pretty weak on the situation at hand.

They don’t mention the sink hole, they didn’t contact anyone at Sandcastle or the landowner which had any recollection of this issue nor any of the public and private stakeholders working to obtain right of way and build the trail.

It’s a shame that it will be or has been published, because it makes things seem as though no one is working to address this issue.

Remember Onorato’s 11/11/11 goal?


erok
Keymaster
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good points. but when it’s all said and done, i think it shows how stubborn sandcastle has been, which probably won’t bode well with their management/owners.

i can see it now, the owners will be like, “we’re getting bad press in bloody newsweek about 1 mile of land in some podunk western pennsylvania town!??” if that makes them act, then it will be worth it. or maybe they won’t give a toss


floggingdavy
Participant
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ive still been meaning to go to sandcastle so i can pee in their pools.


sloaps
Participant
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ive still been meaning to go to sandcastle so i can pee in their pools.

they might have that special chemical in the water where your pee turns blue…


floggingdavy
Participant
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lord i hope so…itll be like making koolaid with my pee.


greenbike
Participant
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don’t drink the koolaid!


88MS88
Participant
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http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/251891/

Imagine if weee could get a movement going ;-)


floggingdavy
Participant
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i can make snowballs too…


Lenny
Participant
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“I’ve still been meaning to go Sandcastle so I can pee in their pools”…….I wouldn’t give them my money to enter their waterpark. Why can’t they just put the trail on the other side of the river instead of pleading with Sandcastle.It would be Sandcastle’s loss by not having cyclists going into their establishment and our gain by still having our trail on the side.


floggingdavy
Participant
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but on a forreal related note, i just saw a really cool book come through the lib. It’s called: The Great Allegheny Passage companion: guide to history & heritage along the trail by Bill Metzger. I’d have taken it out, but someone else is waiting for it. I put a hold on it and am really excited to read it. It would be cool be able to pick out the history as you ride along the trail.


floggingdavy
Participant
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88MS88, that episode is awesome!


edmonds59
Participant
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Wow, the passing of the buck in that article is unbelievable. The GAP, another victim of globalization. Gdamn neocons.


Mick
Participant
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I think it will be compl;eted sooner or later. I’d guess that if Sandcastle keeps on sandbagging forever, then eventually eminent domain could kick in.

Eminent Domain is what the government uses if they want to put in a public work like a road or dam and a property owner won’t cooperate. I think it involves court orders and a fair value payment, but it’s relatively quick and the property owners can’t do much about it.

I don’t believe it has ever been used for a bike path, but I see no reason why it couldn’t.

November 2011? Two years seems like a long time to do something this straight forward.

We might want to consider boycotting and such. With an international corporation, that can have a bit of power.

I read the prisdent (or some such big cheese) of Sandcastle say that they have -for decades- maintained the impracticality of a trail through there and that the trail folks were at fault for not putting it on the other side of the river anyhow. Much as I distrust the guys, this might have made sense a decade ago. Less so now.

BRW, I know nothing about the mentioned sinkhole problem. What’s with that?

Mick


sloaps
Participant
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This sinkhole.

I think it has been kicked up to DEP for funding…


xjoex
Participant
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I don’t believe it has ever been used for a bike path, but I see no reason why it couldn’t.

Maybe not in pittsburgh, but its common place out west.

http://www.dailycamera.com/ci_13366982

-Joe


steevo
Participant
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Davey, I have that book if you want to use it.


floggingdavy
Participant
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steevo,

i wouldnt mind borrowing that. get me hyped for the next touring season. when and where would be good for you to meet up?


nick
Participant
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i don’t understand this controversy. why doesn’t the county just cut a hole in the fence by the glenwood bridge. there’s a perfectly good road through the park. what more do we really need?

i guess there might be liability issues, but i believe there’s some simple paperwork they can fill out so that the county would take care of all that.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Do we have, somewhere in the bike community, a simply stated (preferably impartial) explanation of what the problem is? Such that I could forward it to non-bike friends and acquaintances? I’m afraid that I’m now too emotionally connected with the issue to try to explain it myself.


erok
Keymaster
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the land and the road that goes thru the park is owned by sandcastle and the railway


brian j
Participant
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Has the railroad company been any more cooperative than the owners of Sandcastle?


alankhg
Participant
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It doesn’t seem like there’s enough rail right-of-way alone to build a proper trail; I’d guess the railroad isn’t that much of a problem from the rest of the trail.

I’ve gotten the impression from previous threads that Sandcastle doesn’t care that much about a bike trail per se but sees it more as a bargaining chip against the county to make them pay for fixing the sinkhole in the parking lot or something. Whatever. Those jags make getting to Homestead, which should be simple, disgustingly difficult.


Steven
Participant
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If you look at the tracks in satellite view, you can see that this railroad line has a single track as it passes near the Waterfront. Near the smokestacks, the single track splits into two tracks as it continues to the west. Perhaps they’re trying to convince the railroad to eliminate the northern track in that area, give that space up, and just have one track for the section near Sandcastle, making the split into two tracks just west of Sandcastle, instead of just to its east. That would provide plenty of space for the trail.

I have no idea if such a change would even be possible from the railroad’s perspective, or whether they’d want to just give up 2 miles of in-use track, but it might explain why the negotiators are talking to the railroad too.


pratt
Participant
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honestly I can’t fathom why sandcastle doesn’t want a bike path that goes past their business. What a great draw in the summertime…set up some booths that are accessible to the path, sell drinks, food, etc. Not to mention bringing families into the park via bike, increasing their overall number of visitors….just don’t get it.


Adam
Participant
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I agree that Sandcastle is dumb for fighting a path next to the park. The proximity to the city, AND distance from the South Side would make it a perfect “pit-stop” for all the yuppie day traffic and even through-traffic on the trail. I mean, they have an outdoor bar they keep open beyond the waterpark’s hours to make extra money. Why they would not want to line the trail with their overpriced Potato Patch Fries and Dippin’ Dots stands for the passers by is a dumb business decision. Assuming the trail would follow the waterfront through that area, it will inherently attract traffic from the south side, the waterfront itself, and other through-traffic of trail users on longer trips.

Combined with the fact the trail will be built FOR THEM, it would be dumb not to take advantage. I’ve been to Sandcastle recently, and the land between the waterpark and the riverfront itself is not even being used.

But that wouldn’t be the first dumb-ass move by the Sandcastle and Kennywood folks… Probably the reason its owned by foreign entities and not locally anymore.


edmonds59
Participant
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I actually met one of the guys from the family that owned Kennywood several years ago, based on his age (a boomer, the idiot generation) he was probably from the 3rd generation. It must have been around the time they were looking to sell. He didn’t seem to care about the family legacy or that it was a locally owned landmark, all they seemed to be concerned with was that they were going to get dumptrucks of money dropped in their laps. Awesome.

I wasn’t versed on this trail issue at the time or I would have brought it up.


Mick
Participant
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I’m guessing that the Sandcastle business model has a few problems with the bike trail.

I’m guessing and projecting here and they are just my guesses:

1) They could lose business in the long term, if folks set to spend hundreds of dollars on their Sandcastle experience were often to see families having a good time for free.

2) They are unlikely to get much in revenue from bicyclists coming to their facility. There might be an occasional family that comes through. I’m guessing an entire year af bicycle receipts would be on the order of what they get from two full GMC Suburbans.

3) A large portion of those few arriving by bike would be independent kids. Think “punks sneaking into ride, shoplifting, and harassing kids that are with with monied groups.” Not business they want.

4) Facilites on the trail? Like in Bueno Visto where a guy has a cooler next to the trail and pull out your soda and put the money in, self serve? It isn’t breezewood on the trail, folks.

There is money to be made from the trail by the right kind of business. The “right kind of business” for making money on the trail is NOT a high-cash flow, intense marketing, borderline con that an amusement park is.

Antipathy is expected between SUV drivers and bikers. We here look at it one way.

Word our view of the conflict a bit differently. Our jaded ideas might be similar to those Sandcastle has: “One group is a total sucker for the marketing of illogical, expensive, fashionable products and spends resources on those products to an insane degree. That group has hostility towards a second group of people that are shunning that marketing.”

Which group do you suppose Sandcastle might want to market to?

Consider, if you will, just one famed issue that the most successful recreation park in the world faced and how they dealt it. Sandcastle management wants to be these guys when they grow up. This is how the successful theme park works:

http://www.snopes.com/disney/parks/longhair.asp

We are silly to think that Sandcastle is St00pid for not picking up the bike dollars. I don’t like those guys, but they KNOW their business a lot better than we do.

Sandcastle has lost my business over the trail issues, for sure. Maybe some guy is Spain is bitterly weeping over that ten or twelve dollars, I dunno.

I’m not involved with any of the negotiations, and I’m not clear on the issues involved.

Still, I think they are not going to change until the pickets/boycotts/massive-bad-publicity happens.

Either that or bicycle allies use eminent domain (and the right-wing, mainstream media anger machines have a field day with that).

Mick


pratt
Participant
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there are plenty of businesses that would have never gotten my money had they not been in close proximity to a bike route. Heck if Sandcastle had a trail going next to it and they sold funnel cakes, beer, and ice cream they’d see me buying something every time I went by…along with just about every kid and parent that wandered too close.

Can’t tell you how many beers I’ve purchased from bars with bike friendly access…

Yes I think they are incredibly stupid for not allowing the trail to come through, setting up a few cheap food shacks and raking in the money that comes along the bike trails.

come on, a small outdoor patio, tables, bike racks, nice view of the river, beers, fries…$$$$$$$$$


Lenny
Participant
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I stated 2 days ago what Pratt and Mick are saying now.Yes,They are very stupld from a buisness sense, not letting the trail go by their establishment.For Gods sake, why beg and plead with them and just put the trail on the other side of the river.It’s our gain and their loss!!


Lenny
Participant
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I stated 2 days ago what Pratt and Mick are saying now.Yes,They are very stupld from a buisness sense, not letting the trail go by their establishment.For Gods sake, why beg and plead with them and just put the trail on the other side of the river.It’s our gain and their loss!!


Kordite
Participant
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I have heard that years ago, the Port Authority offered to have one of their bus routes drop off right at Sandcastle’s gate. They declined. Imagine if you will, a business turning down the opportunity to have people brought straight to their doorstep and turning it down. why? It may be presumptuous to say so but I think they are happy enough with the amount of traffic they have and don’t want people who can’t afford to drive a car to their place showing up. They don’t want the class of people who rely on public transportation in the same way that they don’t want kids from Duquesne, McKeesport and the South Side riding their bikes to spend the day at their park.


Kordite
Participant
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Eminent domain has been used for a bike trail. Well, not eminent domain, specifically, but something similar. The City condemned the property at Swinburne Street at the end of the Eliza Furnace Trail to claim it from the parking lot owner there so they could build their own free parking lot. The lot owner used that as an excuse to vandalize the vehicles of people who parked there.


reddan
Keymaster
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For Gods sake, why beg and plead with them and just put the trail on the other side of the river.It’s our gain and their loss!!

I’d guess the need for several million additional dollars for at least two bridges might have something to do with it. (BTW, I am defining ‘several’ as ‘between some and lots’; I have no idea how much it’d cost to bridge the Mon twice more, but I’m willing to wager it ain’t cheap, even using existing bridges.)

As far as the business end of it goes, I’m with Mick…they are far more likely to know what the trail will do for their bottom line than we are. Obviously, the numbers don’t work for them; so, either someone has to come up with real numbers, backed with data, that DO look good to them, or some other form of leverage needs to be applied.

I’d love to just bypass them, but it’s not as easy to do as it is to say. Heck, it’d probably be cheaper and easier to widen 837 from Homestead to the Glenwood Bridge and sign it for a bike lane than to try to cross the river…


Mick
Participant
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I think the Cross-river option would be

-Jail Trail ->

-(Some new trail through Hazelwood. Sharrows on side streets parallel to Irvine/2nd Ave? Rail-trail? Don’t know.) ->

-Duck Hollow trail ->

-One of the sidewalks on the Homestead Grays Bridge (Are there sidewalks on both sides? I think so.) ->

-GAP.

Longer than staying on the South/West side of the Mon.

We would need to bridge across the tracks to the Duck Hollow Trail, and then some ugly finessing to get from Duck Hollow up to the Grays Bridge, but cheaper than two new river crossings.

Who knows? Sandcastle might put up some cash for that – it would suddenly make them the “good guys.”

Widening 837 is also a possibility, I guess.

I’m skeptical as to whether accurate numbers could be generated that would make the bike trade attractive to Sandcastle.

The threat of boycotts/picketing/bad publicity might influence them.

My vision: Sooner or later, a cross-country bike trail will pass through here. IMO, It would be good to have it come through town, with Montour as a bipass option.

If it gets close to some other route making a coast-to-coast route, some serious heat will be on the waterpark. Coast-to-coast could go through the Great Valley/Wildernss Rd and skip Pennsylvania.

Mick


Steven
Participant
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The Homestead Grays Bridge does have sidewalks on both sides. But the stretch from there down to the Duck Hollow Trail is very steep compared to the rest of the GAP. A better option might be to extend the Duck Hollow trail into Rankin and convert Rankin’s hot metal bridge to bike/ped use like the other one.

But I think the route through Sandcastle would be much nicer. I’d say let the ATA, the SVTC and the county work on Sandcastle until 11/11/11, or at least until the rest of the route up from Duquesne is finished. Before trying boycotts and picketing, let the magic of tedious negotiation do its work.


Kordite
Participant
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There are plans to convert the Rankin Hot Metal Bridge but they are tied to the development of the Carrie Furnace into a museum. That doesn’t seem to be progressing very quickly.

The more difficult problem is getting back to the south side of the river near the Glennwood bridge. There is no way to get up to the bridge without crossing railroad tracks and no way to get back down to the trail on the south side without taking to the roads and negotiating the highway ramps.

The alternative is to extend the trail up the river on the north shore but that has additional property issues with the railroad.

As to the “magic of tedious negotiations”, isn’t 20 years tedious enough? Is there really any magic left? Personally, I think that’s pretty much a dead end and something else needs to be done. There seemed to be some movement when Sandcastle was publicly embarrassed by the PG article motivated by the Kennywoodn’t T-shirts. But that wasn’t enough. The Newsweek article may do something similar but I suspect it will only be a momentary focus of attention. I think wee need to keep it up. Embaras them with how easy an agreement could be. A few signs that say “Share the Road”, some sharrows markings on the access road. An agreement to leave the gate that’s open most of the time anyway open all the time. Deal done.

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