South Side New Trail?

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Jason-PGH
Member
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I was looking around Google Maps on the South Side today and I came upon an old elevated and now abandoned railroad. It runs from South 17th Street to South 23rd Street adjacent to the current railroad tracks. I wonder if this might be an opportunity to increase trail traffic on this part of the South Side, and with some associated bike infrastructure, you could make a bike-safe loop around the South Side.
(See https://www.google.com/maps/@40.42524,-79.9784943,423m/data=!3m1!1e3 for the satellite images.)


Mikhail
Member
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Are you sure it’s abandon? I think this is CSX quite live tracks.


Steven
Participant
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I assume you mean just north of and adjacent to Edwards Way. Looks abandoned to me. Here’s a Streetview image looking up at the tracks where they cross South 18th Street. There are no railroad ties, so I assume no tracks either (though it’s hard to be 100% sure looking up).

I think it would be expensive to make into bike infrastructure. You’d need to fit a ramp on both ends, then you’d have to convert three railroad trestles for trail use, which might require replacing old steel on the abandoned trestle, even before you build a trail surface on it. (The Montour Trail folks are in the middle of converting an old trestle to trail use, and had to do this.)

Then to make a loop, you’d have to connect it up to the existing trail. The closest connections are at 18th and 26th. It looks like cyclists would be on streets for about a mile to get to this half-mile elevated trail section.


Mick
Participant
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Why bother?

Plenty of low traffic alternatives. It would involve considerable cost. Any money spent on that could be far better spent on other things.


Vannevar
Participant
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If not a bike lane, it could be a walkway akin to NYC’s High Line, which might be fabulous.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Line_%28New_York_City%29

sorry to stem the flow of negative responses.


Jason-PGH
Member
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I was more or less thinking that myself, the high line has brought a massive amount of people to the areas surrounding it, which is kind of what I think is needed near that area.


Ahlir
Participant
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But the High Line is in the middle of a dense urban district with easy access by stairs and elevators. It has connections to adjacent buildings and sheltered stretches (well, when it tunnels through a building) for vendors. Also, a lot of money went into it.

The South Side stretch seems far from where people would otherwise go. And I don’t think our region has the money for it.


Ahlir
Participant
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Actually now that we’re on the subject, I have my own fabulous, but possibly impractical, idea for a ‘high line’:
The elevated rail tracks above 33nd St in the Strip.

I can’t really tell from the satellite pics, but the bed is double-tracked from around the Herron St Br to across the river. Only one track is still there, and I have yet to see a train on it. There’s a gentle-gradient spur that peels off to the north and parallels the (iffily maintained) trail on that side of the river.

This would be a fabulous connector from Herr’s Island, the south shore and all the way to Liberty (and maybe on to one or another of those Neville trails leading to Oakland that we’ve been talking about). It would be great!
Of course we’d have to rely on BikePgh to maintain and possibly expand their lottery ticket based capital investment program…


Jason-PGH
Member
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That’s the Allegheny Valley Railroad Spur, it gets 2 trains a day, one in the early morning, and one in the late evening.


Ahlir
Participant
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Dang.

Nevertheless, it’s double tracked so maybe the unused bed could be used for a bike trail… Yeah, I know. Safety.
(Wait! If the trains are there only twice a day maybe they could do that high-occupancy thing they do on the car roads: Lower the barriers a couple of times a day. Problem solved!)


Mikhail
Member
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I assume you mean just north of and adjacent to Edwards Way. Looks abandoned to me. Here’s a Streetview image looking up at the tracks where they cross South 18th Street. There are no railroad ties, so I assume no tracks either (though it’s hard to be 100% sure looking up).

It’s the same “branch” as one that is to the west (further from trail) that runs along E.Carson from Becks Run Rd and to 885. I definitely saw CSX trains there and my colleague took picture of one of them (I brought him to watch eagles) because all of them were double stacked containers and the branch that goes to the tunnel along Tunnel Blvd did not allow such load at the time . May be CSX used it as an extension of one of their yards.


Steven
Participant
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There’s an active railroad line there, with two tracks. It runs out to Becks Run.

Just to its north, there’s a six block section that could once have been a siding. But it doesn’t connect now to the active tracks. You can see this if you look at the aerial view.

From the aerial view, you can see the active tracks easily, but this old section is only visible as a few decrepit bridges. The parts in between are completely covered by vegetation.

I suppose it’s possible it’s not a former railroad siding but a former something else, maybe some specialized thing for carrying material from one plant to another, long ago. It’s hard to tell what it used to be.


Marko82
Participant
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^With the old Duquesne Brewery only feet away, it might have been used for staging RR cars dropping off grain, etc.

It’s a neat idea to convert this to a bike trail, but it’s probably not too practical.


Steven
Participant
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I found the original structure on a 1916 map. See plates 7 and 8.

The bridges are the remains of the 18th Street Yard of the Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Charleston Railway (which had become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1905).

They had four tracks running east to west through that area between Mary and Josephine Streets, but between 17th and 23rd Streets, there was a railroad yard, with 10 parallel sidings spread out on both sides of the through track. Streets like 18th went beneath the whole railroad yard.

Today, there are just two parallel tracks, and it looks like all that remains of the yard are a few of the bridges that supported the northernmost sidings.


Mikhail
Member
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There’s an active railroad line there, with two tracks. It runs out to Becks Run.

The ones that to the West or South-West-West of E.Carson. We saw it’ with full blown 120 cars train. The one along the trail are very active.

https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=40.398454,-79.948325&spn=0.002418,0.002832&t=h&z=19

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