Turtle Creek Rail Trail

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paulheckbert
Moderator
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I received the bid documents (PDFs) so if anyone else would like to see them, PM me.


cycleguy
Member
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Hi Paul……….If  the bids from the various companies are available online,I did not see it.I tried to search for the bids,but maybe they will be available online in the near future.I’m sure we will find out more information tomorrow.Looking forward to meeting you and many other Turtle Creek advocates at tomorrow’s meeting.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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@cycleguy: send me a private message with your email address and I could email you the bid PDFs


MattK
Member
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Here’s a little update from the March for Parks weekend:

The March in Murrysville was well-attended.  There were a few hundred there, by my estimation.  Phase 3 of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail was front-and-center at the event.  Maps and photos of the progress were posted on the walls, and I went to check a bit of it out myself that afternoon and during my run that evening.

In Murrysville the Roberts parcel is starting to get properly torn up.  A swath of woods was bulldozed from that into Duff Park, primarily so that the sewer line could be run for the restrooms that are to be built there.  It will also serve as a connection between the main rail trail being built and the existing smaller trails in the park.

In Monroeville the bridge work has been most impressive.  The two long ballast deck bridges are being worked on simultaneously.  Both appeared ready for the concrete pour to repair their curbs.  The short open deck bridge over Simpson Run is even further along; it is essentially finished and usable.  It got a new wooden deck in the same fashion as the bridge in Murrysville near Trafford Road.  There is also something going on at the Saunders Station Parking lot, as there is some heavy equipment parked there with some plastic pipes that are generally used for drainage work.  I know they plan on expanding and resurfacing this lot soon.

In Penn Township the heavy equipment is out on the trail.  Rollers are leveling the subsurface in preparation to receive the top layer.  On the Trafford end not much has happened yet, though you can tell this is where the equipment is entering the trail.  It looks like the leveling is proceeding from Penn toward Trafford.

Can’t wait for the fall when it’s all done.  And by all done, I mean this section.  Phase 4 appears to be funded and in the design phase…


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Summary of meeting of Braddock & five boroughs bike lane group, East Pittsburgh, Sun. 3/26.

13 people attended.

from the five boroughs directly involved:

  • 4 from Braddock (including borough manager Deborah Brown)
  • 2 from East Pittsburgh (mayor and one borough councilmember!)
  • 0 from Rankin – disappointing
  • 1 from North Braddock (borough councilmember)
  • 0 from Turtle Creek – disappointing

from outside boroughs:

  • 4 from Squirrel Hill/Edgewood (jonawebb, cycleguy, Roy Weil, me)
  • 2 from Monroeville/Murrysville (MattK, Betsy)
  • 0 from Wilmerding/Wall/Pitcairn/Trafford – unfortunate

The main purpose of the meeting was to review the five bids from engineering companies to do a feasibility study of bike lanes and trails among the five boroughs. We selected our first and second choices. I won’t name them here because Deborah has some small questions for them before finalizing the selection.

We discussed routes some. I proposed that we think of two east-west routes: the low route and the high route.

The low route would be on or close to Braddock Ave between Rankin and Turtle Creek borough. Tentatively, perhaps use Talbot Ave and Woodlawn to bypass most of the Braddock business district. To bypass the dangerous Tri Boro Expressway portion of Braddock Ave, several of us strongly recommended Route 2183 (Old Braddock Ave). That’s blocked by a locked gate, as noted previously. Mayor Payne of East Pittsburgh says Keystone Commons owns that road and they’re the ones whose approval we would need to open the gate. A possible issue is liability concerns about the Westinghouse Flood Gate, through which the road passes.

The high route (starting in Swissvale) is roughly Woodstock Ave (to North Braddock), and Hawkins and Bell (to E. Pgh), and Linden and Braddock (to Turtle Creek). This high route gets less traffic than the low route, but it’s hillier. The turns will require signage.

It was a good meeting.

The next meeting will be perhaps 4/3 or 4/12, with the engineering company representatives present, so we can explain to them what we’re looking for.


jonawebb
Participant
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The next meeting appears to be scheduled for

Thursday April 13, 2017 at 6:00pm.

I can’t attend; there is a conflict with the Squirrel Hill Bike-Ped meeting. I hope other cyclists show up. This is the first meeting with the chosen contractor.


MattK
Member
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I’ll be there at the meeting on Thursday.  I’m reading more about the traffic pattern and the  real-estate situation around the Westinghouse Floodgate.  Of course I’m typing something up on it…

One question I have for those who attended the first two meetings: Did the RIDC submit any paperwork demonstrating ownership of the locked fence and the road through the floodgate?  If so, when was the purchase made, from whom was it made and for how much?  Neither PennDOT nor Allegheny County’s records that I’ve found so far give any mention of the RIDC owning the road.  Even the RIDC’s own website visually implies that they own the railroad parcels, but not Old Bradock Ave / Rt 2183 / S Main St itself.

They own the railroad, I do not dispute that, but the road is another matter of which I am not yet convinced.  If any of you have seen proof, or know of where to find proof, please let me know.  In a matter of this importance, I think we should know for sure who owns what.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Reminder: Thursday April 13, 2017 at 6:00pm there will be a five-borough bike lane planning meeting at the Old Senior Citizens Center, 700 Grandview Ave, East Pittsburgh, PA 15112. The five boroughs are Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and Turtle Creek. John Buerkle from Pashek (engineering company selected to do a feasibility study) will be joining us for the meeting. I understand that one purpose of this meeting is for the community to tell Pashek our preferences for bike lanes. People not from those boroughs are welcome to attend.


The Iguana
Participant
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From http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2017/03/17/Mon-Valley-Expressway-Southern-Beltway-Jefferson-Hills-Parkway-East-Route-22-Bill-Peduto-Rich-Fitzgerald/stories/201703170098?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=most-emailed-local&utm_campaign=Headlines-Newsletter

“Mr. Fitzgerald said he believes improvements such as extending the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway from Swissvale to Turtle Creek and expanding existing roads in that area would provide faster, more economically efficient improvements in the Mon Valley.

If the Busway is extended from Swissvale to Turtle Creek, hopefully we can make room for a bike lane(s)–at least for that piece of the Busway.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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A quick synopsis of yesterday’s meeting in East Pittsburgh:

19 people attended (biggest turnout yet). It was a short meeting (allowing people to leave early for Mass). John Buerkle of Pashek Associates, the company doing the feasibility study between now and November, led the discussion, inviting attendees to say what they’re looking for from the bike lanes and trails that are built.

Common responses were: we want connections among the boroughs; we want connections to nearby trails (e.g. GAP and Turtle Creek Rail Trail); we want safety; we were glad to be invited, our borough is often left out; help local businesses; encourage biking and walking, our citizens need better fitness; this is a good chance for the boroughs to work together.

The selection of Pashek to do this work (from among five bids) looks good: Buerkle brought up most of the important issues on his own: novice cyclists are anxious near cars; the steep hills on some roads will intimidate many who don’t have an ebike; we need to create a good base-map that shows shops, schools, bus stops; we need a list of people to talk to (schools, US Steel, police, bike groups, Rich Fitzgerald, …); we should promote park-and-ride-with-bike.

Next meeting will be Wed 5/17 6pm, Braddock Carnegie Library, 419 Library St, Braddock.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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MattK and I are leading an exploration-by-bike tomorrow morning of possible future bike routes in the Turtle Creek Valley. I’d like to visit:

  • Westinghouse Flood Gate (at west end of valley)
  • existing short bike trail in Wilmerding
  • abandoned railroad in Pitcairn
  • see current construction of Turtle Creek Rail Trail in Trafford (at east end of valley)

This is not a long ride, but be prepared for a lot of on-and-off the bikes. I’m guessing we’ll be doing a mix of: biking on roads, biking on gravel, biking on dirt paths, walking through weeds, walking bikes on ballast or RR ties, photographing derelict industrial structures.

Where: parking lot at Braddock Ave & Beech Ave in East Pittsburgh, lat&lon 40.3998453,-79.8346092, https://goo.gl/maps/ttAhHBFjFst

When: Sat 4/15 9am

email me please if you think you might come: ph@cs.cmu.edu


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I gathered a lot of video on this excursion and am processing it now. I plan to upload it with as little editing as possible to capture as much a sense of time to travel between spots as to allow the knowledgeable on the ride to explain what’s up in each spot. Both front and rear cameras worked well, so there’s a lot to go through.
In brief we visited the Westinghouse flood gate, the fence blocking Rt 2183, the Keystone Commons railway, reclaimable right-of-way through Turtle Creek, and a park and paved walkway reclaimed from dead space in Wilmerding.
My cameras quit after this, but we explored through Pitcairn and on into Trafford. Then we biked the as-yet-unopened trail to the edge of Murrysville. Amazing how much use it’s already getting, closed, which gives hope to how much benefit a trail could be in the areas we hope to establish one.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The video playlist is at this link. As I write this, I have about the first hour processed, and will add to it as time permits.

It might be better to leave any comments on this thread rather than on the videos, as I may need to replace or delete individual videos. Just reference “front video #2 at the five-minute mark”, or some such. Note that the clock time on the front vids is correct, but the rear cam is an hour slow. (Sorry, one of the clocks I forgot to adjust for daylight savings time.)


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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All eight front-facing and 13 rear-facing videos are now uploaded. Apologies to all I should have communicated with during the week. I’d like to make a blog post about the adventure but I fear it won’t happen.
Many thanks to @mattk and @paulheckbert for putting this together, and @cycleguy and [sorry, I didn’t get Don’s board name, if he has one] for joining the ride. I wish we could have had more!


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I changed the privacy settings on the playlist from public to unlisted. I believe everyone can still access them, but you will need to go to the playlist link first, two posts up. Nebby fingers too willing to start sharing them all over tarnation. Not naming names here, but his name has come up before.


MattK
Member
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RE: State Route 2183 AKA Old Braddock Ave AKA S Main St.

After talking with some rather patient and knowledgeable people at PennDOT, I think we know just a little more about this road now.  In summary, only the “ramp” portion of the road is a state route, i.e. only the portion which leads to the triboro expressway, another state road.  The portion blocked by the fence is not owned by PennDOT, and apparently never was.

So referring to the path through the floodgate as SR 2183 appears to be incorrect, and the great Google map is wrong.  “S Main St” appears as the name in modern databases, and older maps refer to the road as “Braddock Ave”, so “Old Braddock Ave” may also be a proper moniker.

I still haven’t found the documents saying who owns it, when they bought it, and how much they paid for it.  The only thing we know for certain is that it isn’t PennDOT.

 


MattK
Member
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Reminder:

Next “five boroughs” meeting will be tomorrow, Wed 5/17 6pm, Braddock Carnegie Library, 419 Library St, Braddock.

Unfortunately I cannot make it to the Pittsburgh area this time.  I hope that some of you who took the ride with me a few weeks ago can show up and represent us.  We all saw that empty land that has so much potential: the linear vacant lot next to USS, the needlessly blockaded old road through the floodgate, the rusting railroad behind the Keystone Commons, the dilapidated ’50s era parking lot straddling Thompson Run…  This unused land all could be so much more than it is now, and it could provide a safe alternative biking and walking route to the Triboro Expressway.

I really think we’re making some progress on this.  For those who can, please get to the meeting, and continue the dialog with the political leaders and the design team.  We’ve put some good ideas out there, and the right people are listening.  Thanks for all of your time, and keep up the good work!

 


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I cannot; in fact I already had a conflict before this came up.

If anyone can make it, please take a look at my video series, linked above.


jonawebb
Participant
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I can’t either, because of the Ride of Silence. Bad timing.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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I plan to attend. Let us know your suggestions, Jon & Stu & others that can’t attend.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Point out the video I rolled. Invite others to review it. You may need to point them to this thread to get to the link which has the jumping-off point. (The videos are publicly accessible, but not linked.)


zzwergel
Member
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I cannot come. bad time I would have to take a frequently-stopping 61B Braddock-Swissvale bus from Braddock to Oakland and a crowded frequently-stopping 75 Ellsworth bus in the dark from Oakland to Aspinwall. After that, bike .25 mile to my house. By the way, how far is it to the P1 or P3 at Swissvale Station which I can take to/from East Liberty to the library?

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by  zzwergel.
  • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by  zzwergel.

MattK
Member
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From a peek at phase 3 of the WHT on Memorial Day weekend, construction appears to be progressing nicely.  During the holiday pause in construction, I checked it out between the Trafford trail-head and MSA in Murrysville.

The grubbing phase appears to be complete, and a layer (or more) of stone has been laid down throughout.  In Murrysville, Monroeville, and the last 1/2 mile in Trafford, the trail is actually quite smooth, and appears to be approaching finished condition.  In Penn Twp and the rest of Trafford it is much bumpier having not reached the crushed and rolled phase quite yet.

The ballasted bridges to and from Monroeville now have new concrete curbs on them, but no railing as of yet.  I suspect they are holding off on this until the heavy equipment work on the trail is completed.

As for road crossings and parking lots, a concrete ramp has been poured leading up to the Trafford Creamery.  I also saw road construction signs going up on Forbes road…are they finally going to tear out the old tracks there?  At the Saunders Station lot the retaining pond has been built, and much of the old parking area is closed as further construction is ongoing.  The small diversion in the trail to facilitate better sight for the road crossing has also been completed there.

Construction of phase 3 of the trail is scheduled to wrap up by mid-August.  It looks like they are well on their way to getting there.

 


LeeS
Member
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Just joined Bike Pgh over the weekend during the Open Streets event. I’ve been creeping on this board for about 1 year now and finally decided to post this.

Very happy to see other people interested in developing a link between the TCRT and the GAP at the Waterfront. I live in Penn Township about 10 minutes from the Trailside Creamery in Trafford. I’ve looked at videos posted by Stu of the path between Carrie Furnace and Trafford. Even biked some sections of it in the last few weeks (last week I couldn’t find how to get across the creek starting in Trafford onto the bank behind the bus depot though). I’m pretty geeked about trying to connect the TCRT trail to the GAP.

I’ve biked the TCRT many times before it was under construction and many times while it’s under construction including twice last week. MattK provided a perfect summary of the construction progress.

So just thought I’d say “Hi”.


zzwergel
Member
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@mattk What is MHT and MSA?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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WHT=Westmoreland Heritage Trail
MSA=Mine Safety Appliances, which has a large building adjacent to that trail in Murrysville.


MattK
Member
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Thanks Stu, you beat me to it! :)

And Welcome, LeeS!  It’s great to see how excited people are about the trails, and how many people are getting good use out of them.

The bridge to the bank behind the bus depot is accessible from the Monroeville side if you follow the old railbed from behind the Shop-n-Save to behind the bus depot fence (the fence appears to be encroaching a bit on the rail bed, but you can still get by on it).  The other way to that area is to follow the active NS tracks from Trafford over the Brush Creek Railroad bridge.  I’m not encouraging too much of this however, as those tracks handle a lot of freight traffic…

The preferred route from Trafford to the bus area would be via another abandoned railroad bridge which can be seen by looking down from the Rt-130 bridge.  (That bridge has no deck and is currently fenced-off, but accessible from the Allegheny county side if you’re nimble enough and want to explore)  From here we’d just have to negotiate a deal to run the trail either behind or in front of those parking lots, and onward behind the shopping center towards Pitcairn Park and westward towards the GAP.  There are quite a few of us doing what we can to advance this idea.  The political leaders seem very receptive to it, but we’re very early in the process.  At this point we’re all just doing what we can to let our elected officials know that we love what they’ve done with the trail so far, and we want to keep the momentum going to extend it.


MattK
Member
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One more month until the scheduled end of major construction of phase 3 of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail!

From the western edge of the trail in Trafford through Simpson run in Monroeville what appears to be the top layer of limestone is down and level.  East of Simpson run, no limestone quite yet, but the grubbing and base layer are complete all the way past Roberts Parcel.  Also, the railroad tracks have finally been removed from Forbes Road and Trafford Road.  Fencing has been installed along much of the trail.

The trail is looking better than ever, and the best is yet to come.


zzwergel
Member
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If the busway was extended to Turtle Creek, would the P1 also be extended on all trips?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Off topic, but likely yes. Not in this decade, guessing not in the next, either. If we want to talk busways, start a different thread.


MattK
Member
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For those interested, the new Frank Pavlovich pavilion will be dedicated on Thursday, July 13th at 6:00 PM.  The pavilion is located on the WHT next to the route 819 crossing by St. Sylvester church in Slickville.  There will be food.  All are welcome.  Details on the WHT Facebook page.

A meeting of the WHT group will immediately follow the dedication and picnic.  I went to last month’s meeting.  It was really worth going.  I think I counted about 34 in attendance.  Pretty much all news about trail construction was good news.  The only snag reported was that the bids for construction of the Roberts lot in Murrysville came in too high and had to be reworked and re-done.

The WHT group has gotten word about the “group of 5” meeting in East Pittsburgh and Braddock.  They were extremely supportive of what is going on there, though I had to caution not to expect too much at this early stage in the process.  We may get a trail, we may get bike lanes, we may get both, or we may get nothing….

I missed the May meeting in Braddock.  Does anyone know how that went?  Has another been scheduled yet?


abf
Member
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Want to note that the proposed GAP-WHT (Westmoreland Heritage Trail) trail, together with the GAP, WHT (including the phase 3 and 4 Turtle Creek extenstions), West Penn Trail, and Ghost Town Trail, there would be an off-road trail, with only a couple small gaps, reaching over 80 miles to Ebensburg!

In other words, a GAP to WHT connector would essentialy extend the Trans Allegheny Trails westward to Point State Park.


abf
Member
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Also, as far as a trail on the portion through RIDC Keystone Commons which retains its rails, perhaps the rails could be covered over with a boardwalk or similar for use as a trail, if RIDC wants to keep this rail connection easily usable without too much new work. Or perhaps a rail-with-trail can be made, if there’s enough room?

By the way, thanks so much to all those who scouted out the old rights-of-way, and to @stuinmccandless for posting the videos of the ride.

  • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  abf.

MattK
Member
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I’d be interested to see the RIDC’s thoughts and ideas.  Anything more than “no…go away!” would be very welcome.  We need a safe path around the triboro expressway, and the RIDC pretty much owns all the land in the area, so we’ll need to work with them somehow eventually.

As far as the route, I suggested behind the commons primarily because the route would hug the water.  When you hug the water, you limit the possibility of car-bike / car-pedestrian collisions, since cars (usually) don’t intentionally drive toward the water at high speed.  It also means fewer stop signs, and often a more scenic route.  As far as a “rail with trail” goes, it definitely seems plausible.  During its peak the railway had 2 full sets of tracks all the way from behind the commons through the end of Turtle Creek borough.  At the border of Wilmerding the tracks split, with the one that still exists heading across the bridge to WABCO and the other staying on the north bank en route to Trafford along the path where the Airbrake Walking Trail is now.  This is the path we scouted earlier this year.

To see more, look it the maps from the year 1915 here: http://digital.library.pitt.edu/maps/hopkins.html.  It’s a pretty fascinating glimpse back in time.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Maybe talk to Matthew Galluzzo at Lawrenceville Corporation and/or Dave Breingan at Lawrenceville United about working with RIDC?  RIDC as I recall initially resisted, but eventually agreed to give space for a future trail extension through their recent project on Hatfield St near 47th in Central Lawrenceville. If you aren’t already in touch with someone at RIDC, the Lawrenceville folks might be able to point you to the most effective people to talk to…


MattK
Member
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Thanks, buffalo buffalo.  That could be some useful contact info at the right time.  At this point, I’d rather leave it to the people leading the 5 boroughs group to decide when and how to reach out.  I’m sure they know better than we do how to approach the matter through the appropriate channels at the appropriate time.  It may still be too early…

I don’t know what happened at the last meeting in Braddock, or when the next one will be.  I’m also curious what kind of plans and drawings the architects are coming up with.  I guess we’ll find out in due time.


MattK
Member
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As for the eastern front, the limestone surfacing of the 5.9 miles between Trafford and Murrysville appears to be nearly done, if not done already.  The asphalt sections near the road crossings still need done, as do some gates / bollards as well as signals and painted crosswalks for road crossings.  Most of the fencing appears done, though the railings on the two ballast decked bridges across Turtle Creek still need to be put up.

The parking lot at Saunders Station has progressed quite a bit recently.  They have the base about level now and appeared to be ready to pour concrete for the curbs.  The smaller lot in Murrysville near the Haymaker gas well seems one step closer to completion, with its curbs in place.  But for the Roberts lot, which had to be sent out for a re-bid, everything seems to be progressing perfectly.

It’s getting so close to being done…counting down the days.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen (road cyclists’ group) is biking the (approximate) Rough Diamond Route tomorrow, August 13, in a 101-mile ride.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1447426168650895/permalink/1494038127323032/

They’re not biking the Turtle Creek Rail Trail (which was supposed to be completed, about now, right?) but rather following roads from Trafford to Murrysville. I don’t plan to go – these guys & gals are quite fast.

 


MattK
Member
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The construction deadline for phase 3 came…and went. :(  All of the paving is done, both limestone and asphalt.  All of the bollards and gates are also up as far as I can tell.  All of the road paintings appear to be done, including crosswalks.  Bike x-ing signs are up near all the major intersections, and Saunders Station Road even has rumble strips, at least on the Monroeville side that I drove on.  Flashing warning lights are up at the Trafford Road crossing in Murrysville.  I don’t know if they will also be coming at Saunders Station or Forbes Road; these roads are heavily trafficked though not nearly as bad as the one in Murrysville.

The Urban Cos parking lot by the Trafford Creamery is nicely lined and ready to go, though I think they need to change some old signs as to not to implicitly threaten to tow away trail users.  The re-construction of the Saunders Station lot on the western side of the road is nearly done; they just need lines painted, some signs, and a street light installed, I think.  In the meantime the old gravel lot on the eastern side of the road overflows with trail users on the weekends.  The new Carson Ave lot is partially paved and still a work in progress.  Construction on Roberts lot, delayed by the need for a re-bid, appears to have just begun and is much further from completion than the others.

The only reason I can see for not ripping down the “trail closed” signs is the railing work on the ballasted bridges, which as of Sunday still had not begun, but for someone blocking off the Murrysville-Monroeville bridge with makeshift barriers.  The barriers were promptly ignored by absolutely everyone on the trail; people who live in this neighborhood have been walking along the old railroad tracks for decades…  Hopefully the delay with the railings will be resolved soon.

 


paulheckbert
Moderator
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I asked Jeff Richards, Planning Coordinator for Westmoreland County Parks department, about completion of the trail between Trafford & Murrysville, and he wrote:

“The most significant remaining component that’s not yet installed, are the steel railings for the two long, concrete deck bridges over Turtle Creek. The Bridge Contractor tells us they plan to install the railings (which have been fabricated and galvanized) on the Penn-Mon Bridge early this week, and install railings on the second, Mon-Mur Bridge, shortly after.  We won’t officially open the trail to the public until after these railings are installed, due to liability issues.

We’re also working to complete a new trailhead in Murrysville, at the Roberts Parcel by mid-September (with 32 parking spaces, a restroom and visitor center, with walkway connections north across Rte. 22 and south for direct access to the trail and Duff Park). After  that’s substantially complete, we’ll have a grand opening and dedication of the Phase 3 project.”

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