Turtle Creek Rail Trail

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MattK
Member
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It looks like the railings on the bridges are up as of Wednesday.  It’s unfortunate that they got held up so long in manufacturing, but once they were delivered they seemed to go up in no time.  (The WHT Facebook page broke the news, they are really keeping up to date on this as of late.)  From their photos it looks like the Saunders Station lot is open too…or at least, people are parking in it.  They also posted photos of many people riding the new trail.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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I biked Turtle Creek Rail Trail (TCRT, part of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail) from Trafford to Murrysville on Saturday. The bridges looked done, the parking lot in Trafford is nice, but the parking lot in Murrysville near the Airgas Store that Jeff Richards wrote about (see above) is still under construction. We saw lots of people biking the trail, so I’d say it’s effectively open now. Jeff emailed me “On Saturday, September 30, 2017, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM we are hosting our official Ribbon-Cutting Dedication/Celebration. Please save the date, and spread the word. It will be a ‘rolling event’, starting at Roberts Parcel in Murrysville at 10, then a dedication at Saunders Station in Monroeville at about 11:15,  followed by an event and festivities in Trafford around 12:30.”

Note that the TCRT will also provide new access to Funk Bikeway, which is one of the existing trails in Duff Park. On this map http://www.murrysvilletrails.org/images/duff_park_trail_map.pdf the railroad at the top is now the TCRT, and the short connector between TCRT and Funk Bikeway is right at the Roberts Parcel / Airgas Store access point.

One of the refurbished trail bridges on the TCRT:

DSC07667


paulheckbert
Moderator
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They put in a crossing beacon where the trail crosses the road at Trafford Rd in Murrysville. The borough is maintaining it. I didn’t look at it closely, but I think it senses the approach of a cyclist, then shows flashing red for the cyclist while it shows flashing yellow to the road. Whatever it did seemed to work, as I had cars stop for me – a pleasant surprise!

(click for uncropped picture)

DSC07665

Unfortunately, at the two other road crossings, Saunders Station Rd in Monroeville and Forbes Rd in Trafford, no beacons were put in. Jeff Richards tells me that he (County Parks Dept) requested one in Trafford, but the borough was not willing to do the necessary maintenance. Boo, Trafford! I think both of those roads need beacons, as cars travel pretty fast on them.


MattK
Member
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Thanks for the update, Paul.  It’s looking better than ever.

I’ll be in town for the grand opening on the 30th.  Is anyone else going?


paulheckbert
Moderator
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If you’re interested in bike lanes, pedestrian routes, and bike trails in boroughs near Braddock, come to the open house on Wednesday evening 9/20:

Residents of Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek

Please attend & provide feedback on proposed recommendations for improving walking, bicycling & connections to public transportation in your communities.
2017 Active Transportation Plan Public Open House
September 20, 2017, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Turtle Creek Borough Building, 125 Monroeville Avenue, Turtle Creek, PA 15145

Minutes from the July meeting (which I missed) is a PDF page 5 of which is a detailed map of Pashek company’s recommended active transportation route network, a snapshot of which I show below:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/njj97zcapx115r2/minutes_20170720.pdf?dl=0

pashek_20170720_map_snapshot

(discussion of a meeting on this effort in the Spring: http://www.bikepgh.org/message-board/topic/turtle-creek-rail-trail/page/5/#post-340678)

 


jonawebb
Participant
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Thanks, Paul. It is really awesome they’re thinking along the same lines as we are, using the floodgate route to connect Braddock Ave to Turtle Creek, bypassing the Triborough Expressway. That would be a big advance for active transportation in that area.
I doubt I’ll be able to attend the meeting; lots of conflicts. But if you or someone else goes please keep us informed.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I cannot make it.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Regarding the map that we’ll see at the Sept. 20 open house:

Here’s a sampling of their recommendations regarding cycling:

  • on many roads, e.g. Braddock business district, road too narrow to create bike lanes, so no change other than sharrows
  • 11th St, Braddock: bike lanes (two way for bikes, one way for cars & trucks)
  • Braddock Ave east of 11th St (past Edgar Thomson Works): bidirectional protected bike lane
  • Route 2183 through Westinghouse Flood Gate and RIDC property: rail trail (open gate, keep the tracks close to Turtle Creek, build trail alongside)
  • Braddock Ave & Airbrake Ave in town of Turtle Creek: bike lanes

To my mind, Pashek chickened out of making bold recommendations in a few places where PennDOT is controlling bridges: Kenmawr Bridge in Rankin (to be rebuilt soon), Bell Ave bridge in North Braddock (to be rebuilt soon), and Rankin Bridge. The latter is quite important, since it’s likely to be 10 years before Rankin Hot Metal Bridge opens to bikes.


MattK
Member
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I can’t make the meeting (am out of town), but hope that as many of you as possible do make it.  I also hope that some of the officials in the meeting attend the WHT grand opening on the 30th (I will be there for that one).  It would be a good way to introduce more people from one group to the other, since they are working toward many common goals.

The most important good news I saw in Pashek Co’s plans is the recognition of the importance of the route through the floodgate and the positive reception the plan has gotten from the county officials.  Securing that safe route around the Triboro Expressway is absolutely critical to making this project work, and there don’t seem to be any realistic alternatives to it.  Pushing that part of the project through would be a major win for everyone involved.

The best original idea I saw was the “cycle track” concept next to the wall alongside US Steel.  That would get us safely from the floodgate to the Braddock business district.  Westward from there continuing the cycle track would be nice, but not as critical since there are multiple lightly trafficked east-west roads that cyclists may utilize in central Braddock.

The biggest “miss” that I see in the plans so far is not including a possible rail to trail (or rail with trail) over Thompson Run and under the Greensburg Pike bridge.  This run-down and unused section of Turtle Creek borough has the potential to be turned into something like the Airbrake trail and playground in Wimerding and to even connect directly to it without having to take the trail on Airbrake ave itself (though honestly this isn’t a bad road to bike on). But staying near the tracks and the water here would be even safer and would allow cyclists and pedestrians to pass under the Greensburg Pike traffic, rather than having to cross it at grade.   Just as we did when we explored it earlier this year…: https://youtu.be/P6e22vBFKr0

 


paulheckbert
Moderator
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I asked Jess Fegley at Pashek (who did a lot of the detail work on this proposal) “what about the Mon-Fayette Expressway?” and her response was basically “we haven’t yet figured in that possibility; it looks like the MFE extension might not happen”.

I hope she’s right but I fear she’s wrong. My attitude about the Mon-Fayette Expressway: as a cyclist and as a citizen I don’t want the MFE extended to Monroeville because (1) it would hurt the town of Turtle Creek a lot by splitting it in two, (2) it would add a noisy, polluting flyover toll road without helping most of the communities it passes through due to lousy connections, (3) there’s not much demand to drive from Monroeville to Jefferson Hills, (4) it would cost billions of dollars, (5) the money could be spent better on other projects, e.g. public transit, or fixing sewers & bridges.

But if it’s going to be built, I want a catwalk for cyclists and pedestrians under the new bridge across the Mon, and a bike trail parallel to the MFE extension running from the GAP trail to Old William Penn Highway in Monroeville.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Turnout at the open house last night was disappointing: under 20 people. A few notes.

Kelley Kelley, Mayor of Turtle Creek, says the strip of land where Interworks railroad used to be, close to the creek, is owned by RIDC and the county. RIDC seems intent on holding onto it. Shelly Pie Pizza wanted to buy some of the land behind their property and RIDC wouldn’t sell it. I think that land would make a better bike route than Airbrake Ave, which has lots of parked cars on it.

John Buerkle of Pashek says that keeping the officially-active-but-in-practice-inactive Interworks RR tracks through the Westinghouse Flood Gate is probably important to RIDC. Rail access is a selling point for Keystone Commons marketing. He suspects that letting cyclists use that route would be like letting the nose of the camel into the tent, to RIDC: it might be hard for RIDC to undo, in the future, if they determined that they needed to activate the rail line and close the bike trail. I pointed out that a bike trail there could save a cyclist’s life, and that bike access could be a selling point for Keystone Commons.

Connection to the GAP: Pashek is thinking 10+ years out, and their ideal route is Rankin Hot Metal Bridge (currently closed, might cost $20 million to refurbish for bikes+ped+cars). I reiterated the importance of and issues with Rankin Bridge:

  • yes, Rankin Hot Metal Bridge will be wonderful, but it’s many years off;
  • even after RHMB opens, RB will be important to the bike network; every bridge is vital!
  • residents of the five boroughs that want recreation/commuting via the GAP need bikes on RB;
  • merchants of the five boroughs that want outside customers need bikes on RB;
  • the bike lanes of Rankin Bridge are (currently) questionable because 837 is bike-hostile;
  • sidewalk of Rankin Bridge is currently the best bike route across the Mon;
  • Steel Valley Trail Council wants to build a Rankin Bridge Connector to the GAP, just south of RB.

Buerkle was resistant when I asked if the sidewalk connections to the Rankin Bridge at the Rankin end could be improved. He said that biking on a sidewalk is illegal. Not true, in general! PA law says that cycling on a sidewalk is legal except in a business district, or where a parallel bike lane is available.

My suggestion: the Rankin end of that bridge needs a redesign; it’s currently horrible for pedestrians. It’s ADA-hostile: there is no crosswalk for pedestrians trying to travel from north Rankin or Swissvale across the bridge, no curb cuts. The green line in picture should be made walkable. Do traffic calming. Put a crosswalk here. Put in curb cuts. The curved offramp and onramp to the bridge should be sharpened to be like the corner at an intersection, not like a freeway ramp! Add stop signs or a traffic signal. Cars will be held up at Hawkins Village or Woodstock Ave anyway, there’s no need for 60 mph driving through here. A safe crosswalk would help pedestrians, handicapped, and cyclists.

Rankin end of Rankin Bridge: click for uncropped picture

rankin_bridge_sidewalk_annotated


jonawebb
Participant
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Too bad about the turnout. But it seems like everybody decided to hold their meeting last night. I had four conflicting meetings to choose from, myself.


MattK
Member
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I’ll address the attendance issue first.

This meeting wasn’t announced on the group facebook site, as far as I know.  I didn’t hear of its existence until Paul posted it here, which helps those of us who follow this board regularly.  Getting the word out early and often is important.  Where and when is the next meeting?  Does anyone know?

The informal invitation was to “Residents of Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek”.  This doesn’t technically include me, or any of the other 200,000 current and recent residents of other boroughs in the Turtle Creek Watershed, to whom this project is also very important.  There is a small army of volunteers in the eastern suburbs who would gladly show up, write letters, and support this project in any way we can.  The WHT group has over 500 followers now, the older Murrysville trail alliance group has more than that, and with the opening of the trail on Saturday, momentum is only going to grow.  A little more outreach could go a long way here.

Were all of the people who showed up in Turtle Creek invited to the trail opening this coming weekend?  If not, they should be.  It would be beneficial for everyone involved for Deborah Brown and Jeff Richards to meet and bounce ideas off of each other, if they haven’t already.  It would be great for the mayor of East Pittsburgh to shake hands with the Mayor of Trafford and say, hey we’ve got 5 miles of rail in between our towns that haven’t regularly been used since 1962, let’s re-make this connection with a trail.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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In an earlier post I hinted at the opening ceremony for 6 miles of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail (aka Turtle Creek Rail Trail) on Sat., Sept. 30:

Progressive Grand Opening Ceremonies & Ribbon Cuttings:

  • 10:00 a.m.—Robert’s Trail Access in Murrysville between the Fire Place Store and Airgas Supply along US Route 22 East
  • 11:15 a.m.—Saunder’s Station Trail Access in Monroeville
  • 12:00 p.m.—Trafford Trail Access at the Parkside Creamery

click picture for uncropped

Grand Opening Flyer 300


paulheckbert
Moderator
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the opening ceremonies for the 6 mile section of trail (in a secluded wooded valley) are tomorrow. see above.


MattK
Member
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The Grand opening was a wonderful day.  I’m guessing 100+ cyclists, and another 100+ who drove to one or more of the access points.  The media showed up and interviewed some people; the politicians showed up and said the right things.  The new parking lot and facilities at the Roberts parcel are very nice.  The Heritage Trail Pale Ale was flavorful and not overly hoppy.

Many people were talking about what happens next in trail development.  Phase 4 to Export will happen; there were hopes that the promised funds will come in on time and the bids will come in under budget, but until then they are not making any promises for 2018.  A bridge from Valley Park in Monroeville to the trail is supposedly also in the works, and it seems to be an extremely good idea as it would provide direct trail access for those living in Alpine Village as water fountain and possible restroom access to trail users.  It was a pleasant surprise to also hear a rather well thought-out idea for a short spur trail for hiking up Simpson Run towards the Beachwood Park (AKA Ramsey Park) area, as many more people live up there. I hope that gets traction as well.

Of course there was also talk of the connection to the GAP.  I cringed a little every time I heard “it’s only 4 more miles to get there”, since the route once laid out will require perhaps twice the distance to follow all the bends in valley towards Rankin.  But more info is getting out about what is going on in the boroughs along lower Turtle Creek.  People in Trafford live at the eastern edge of the former Westinghouse Interworks Railway, they are starting to see its potential, and they want to get more involved in making good things happen.


MattK
Member
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The December meeting of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail group will be at 7:00PM on Thursday, Dec 14th at Rivertowne Brewing, 5578 Old William Penn Highway, Export, PA 15632. Recently released Strava heat maps already indicate this brewery is a popular destination for cyclists on the trail.  Good to hear I’m not the only one :)

At the last meeting they indicated an intention to keep the business phase of the meeting a bit shorter than usual, to allow for a longer holiday party phase.  Completion of phase 3 will be celebrated, and phase 4, which will go right past the brewery, is hopefully soon to come.


MattK
Member
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In news that came as a bit of a surprise to me, US Steel is looking to allow fracking next to its Edgar Thompson works in North Braddock.  Why is this relevant?  Not because of any pros / cons of fracking, but because of the proposed placement of the well pad.  See here:

http://www.post-gazette.com/powersource/companies/2017/12/27/Merrion-Oil-Gas-planning-drill-gas-US-Steels-Edgar-Thomson-mill-Braddock-Pittsburgh/stories/201712270142

This is the empty plot of land onto which the proposed bikepath through the Westinghouse Floodgate would continue onto.  (This is the path that would link the Westmoreland Heritage Trail with the Great Allegheny Passage, so it’s quite important)  We would not need this entire parcel, or even most of it…just the northernmost 10-14 feet (or however wide a bike path should be).  This would be just enough to get us past the last couple hundred yards of the Triboro Expressway, west of which the Braddock ave slows down to two lanes, where a cycle track or bike lanes would be plausible.  See: http://www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/Map.aspx?ParcelID=0376A00100000000&SearchType=0&CurrRow=0&SearchName=&SearchStreet=&SearchNum=&SearchMuni=&SearchParcel=&pin=0376A00100000000

Again, we’d only want a strip of land on the far northern edge of the property.  There is almost certainly enough room for both a well pad and a bike trail.  However, I think we should make sure that the powers that be hear our input before anything is built.

 


paulheckbert
Moderator
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The next piece of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail is being planned. (These recent portions are sometimes called the Turtle Creek Rail Trail).

“A meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Italian American Club on Kennedy Avenue, Export. Mackin Engineering Co. of Findlay Township will present plans for the project, which are about 60 percent complete, said Jeff Richards, parks planning coordinator for Westmoreland County. The next phase of the trail will extend eastward from the Roberts trail access point off the eastbound side of Route 22 in Murrysville to Lincoln Avenue in Export.” http://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/13216139-74/westmoreland-heritage-trail-expansion-plans-to-be-unveiled


zzwergel
Member
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I cannot attend this because there is no bus that goes there and it’s too late in the evening unless I stay overnight.

Anything starting after 2:30 PM or before 11:30 AM regardless of location I cannot attend because I am rarely awake before 9:00 AM and going home in the rush hour or after dark is out of the question. In the Summer time, I will be able to attend later meetings because I can leave after 7:00PM and still have a little light to get home.

  • This reply was modified 9 months, 4 weeks ago by  zzwergel.

MattK
Member
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Perhaps the biggest item of interest in the phase 4 plans is the status of the routing of the trail around the parcels owned by the Cleveland Brothers Caterpillar place.  They seem to be working on land use agreement which would essentially trade the rights for the railroad for the rights to the land behind the facility by the creek.  As long as parcels of equal value are exchanged, this looks like a win-win for all parties involved.

What I am concerned about is the current status, which disproportionately disfavors trail users.  Someone has once again put up “Private Property No Trespassing Violators Will Be Prosecuted” signs right in the middle of the railbed, which is public property owned by Westmoreland County.  This is not the first time someone has done this.  Earlier such signs were promptly taken down after complaints were made in 2016.  This most recent action represents someone doubling down on their earlier threats.  It is part of a continuation of a series of unsavory behavior in this area, which began with the parking of heavy equipment directly in the middle of the public right of way in a very obvious effort to blockade trail users. This happened around the time when Westmoreland County opened the trail in its primitive state on a “use at your own risk” basis.

Now I can say with absolute certainty that the “safety card” has been and will continue to be played as part of someone’s effort to, at least temporarily, assert total control over a tax payer owned path of land while currently offering us no land use in return.  However, the only safety risks to current trail users are being caused by the equipment that has been intentionally parked on the trail which belongs to all of us.

Until a final agreement has been implemented and the trail is complete, riding through the old railbed remains the safest, most practical option for many trail users.  It is certainly safer than riding alongside Route 22, which people have been during due to the threats of prosecution which are being made against them.

It appears that this issue needs to be raised more publicly.  Final construction may not begin for another year or more.  In the meantime, the public should be allowed the use of the land that we paid for, instead of being directed to risk our lives riding on a dangerous highway.

Signs are here.  Spin around in the google street view to see the green “Property of Westmoreland County – use at your own risk” signs on one side of the road, and how they have been replaced with red “Private Property, No Trespassing, Violators Will be Prosecuted” signs on the other side.  Notice also that the trail is getting used by people, which we have every right to do.

https://www.google.com/maps/@40.4229513,-79.6678162,3a,71.5y,307.26h,90.75t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sT0dmQtOQ1FhZz81ipqs0jQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656


Marko82
Participant
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It would be a shame if anything happened to that equipment parked on public land.   I’m not suggesting anyone do anything, but abandoned expensive equipment sometimes gets damaged by hooligans with nothing better to do.  I hope that doesn’t happen here.

 


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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It’d be easier to have a nice little trail hike with a staple puller.


MattK
Member
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There is a legal and appropriate way to deal with abandoned equipment on a public right of way.  Which is to report it to the police, and have it ticketed and towed.  I would consider this to be an option of last resort, however.

I am looking for people to take positive action, not to sink to the level of a bully.  Let’s be the good guys, here.  Let’s be the one’s who work with the Westmoreland County officials for the greater good, not the ones who create a headache for them like the people who ripped the county’s signs down and replaced them with their own…again.  Let’s work with the people who are working with us, by politely letting them know of our concerns, and looking for a positive solution.

Paul already posted the time and place for the next public meeting:  7 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Italian American Club on Kennedy Avenue, Export.  There will be a certain time when they can ask for public input, at which time you just have to raise your hand for this section of the trail to be opened on an “use at your own risk” basis, just like all of the others have been.  For reasoning, “because we paid for it”, and “because nothing is perfectly safe, but it is safer than route 22” are very legitimate concerns to express.  And if you’re too shy to speak up at a meeting, it’s still okay to wait around and politely approach the county officials there after the meeting, introduce yourself, shake hands, and say, “I like what you’re doing, but I have these concerns…”

I’ve seen people riding, walking and enjoying the phase 4 extension.  Not all of them are posting here, but some may be reading…  This public meeting is your chance to meet the people making the trail happen, tell them how much you enjoy using it, and give your feedback on how it can be made better.  Many will want to walk or ride the primitive phase 4 section during this interim period before major construction begins in late 2018 or 2019 , particularly once the weather gets better.  Speak up now to ensure that we are allowed to.


LeeS
Member
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I ride the unimproved Phase 4 pretty regularly starting in Trafford near at the ball fields. Usually I’m riding after work and by the time I reach Caterpillar (5:30pm or so), their gates are still open but they are probably winding down for the day. I usually just ride straight through their parking lot despite the no trespassing signs and come out at School Road. I am extremely cautious while cutting through. After all they’ll have much lower visibility than me if they’re moving that large equipment. So the onus for my safety is on me.  Never had a single problem, not even a close call. I’ve probably done this a dozen times during the 2017 riding season.

One day back in Sept or Oct 2017, I was riding through the Caterpillar parking lot on a weekday in the middle of the afternoon, probably about 2:30pm (several hours earlier than normal). A guy comes running out of the office yelling at me that I’m trespassing and I can’t cut through. Didn’t get his name but he seemed as though he was one of the higher ranking people there. He was very firm that people can’t cut through there, that it’s private property, the fact there are signs, and they need to keep trail users out because it’s a safety issue.

After he calmed down a bit, I began to talk to him about the trail coming through and what the plans are. I was curious to hear about it from his perspective. He indicated the plan is to route the trail behind the buildings and hug the creek — same thing MattK said. Side note: he did let me continue through there one last time.

Shortly after this incident, they put up signs and ropes across the trail, near the large brick digital sign near the Caterpillar entrance. Perhaps they were planning this already but the timing with my incident seems very coincidental. However, at no point have I encountered equipment parked across the trail but I haven’t been through there in a few months. I’m guessing the equipment is parked across the section of trail that cuts through the Caterpillar property.

I also support taking the high road approach of engaging with Westmoreland county officials, attending public meetings, etc. to work toward a trail that benefits everyone and is achieved with agreement from all stakeholders. I will try to make it to the Feb 8th meeting but I’m doubtful right now (kid’s activities).

Alternate route around Caterpillar

I’m guessing a lot of people know this route already but for those that aren’t as familiar with this section, here’s a relatively easy way around Caterpillar until Phase 4 is complete:

 

I don’t like Caterpillar (and/or whoever is doing the sign stuff) being a**holes either. But we’ll get more accomplished if this is handled the right way. Plus bikers will stay safe and legal while riding the unimproved section.


MattK
Member
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Thanks for the info, LeeS.  This sheds some more light on the matter.

Quickly, if you were riding through their parking lot, then you were on their private property.  If you were riding on the trackbed, then you were not.  Cleveland Brothers happens to own parcels on both sides of the trackbed, but not the trackbed itself.  The publicly owned rail corridor is a very straight path through the middle around 60′ wide.  This is according to Westomoreland County’s official website: https://www.wcgis.us/apps/public/

As far as encroachment goes, I’ve been seeing it since the first time I rode that section,  2 years ago on this exact date.  Then I saw the front of an earth moving device parked perpendicularly to the trail directly in the middle of it, blocking the path through.  So of course, I rode through the parking lot, and I don’t’ think anyone noticed that day.  But this is how they get you.  Like when someone illegally parks a car in the middle of the street, you naturally drive around, then they bust you for passing in a no-passing zone.  As of November 2017 they were blocking the trail with a container car, again right in the middle of the rail bed, perpendicular as to block the entire path that the taxpayers paid for. This compels us to ride around into private property, where they can yell and complain that we are “trespassing”.  This game has been going on for a couple years now.

Coke Oven Mike’s blog has some informative photos: http://coalandcoke.blogspot.com/2015/05/a-final-look-at-turtle-creek-branch-of.html

Zoom in here: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NfaREzMERiU/VWFOFr9ACiI/AAAAAAAASwc/HvB7_tN3qX4/s1600/IMG_3463.JPG

The equipment on the left of the photo appears to be all on private property, or close enough to it.  The equipment on the right of the center line appears to be encroaching, with the arms of the machines resting only a few feet from the centerline of the track, instead of 30′ from it.  Look in the background and you’ll see a smaller piece of equipment parked in the dead center of the track, near where Cleveland Brothers routinely runs its equipment across the publicly owned track between its two privately owned lots.  This machine is an early version of their “blocker”: that strategically placed piece of machinery that makes trail users thing “the trail is blocked, I’ll just ride around”, so then they can complain about you riding through their parking lot, once they’ve given you no realistic option but to do so.

The satellite photo google is currently using shows one blocker placed on public property at either end of the section where the public track bisects two Cleveland Brothers lots.  Deviating by more than 30′ from the center of the tracks while riding around either of these blockers would naturally put you on their property.  https://www.google.com/maps/place/Murrysville,+PA/@40.4240189,-79.6699909,148m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x8834c1721c56afd7:0x64684da7280665db!8m2!3d40.4284015!4d-79.697545


LeeS
Member
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Yep. I get it. Before I went through their parking lot, I followed the trackbed. And I can’t remember if equipment was blocking the trackbed or not. If it was I simply went around and didn’t think anything of it because I would have assumed they had the right to do it. I now know they don’t since it’s publicly-owned property. After riding the trackbed a few times, I switched to using their parking lot. My bad and I don’t do it anymore.

One time I even explored going through Walker’s Pet Hotail (<– correct spelling, believe it or not) parking lot, up the hill along Rt. 22 and stayed between the guardrail and Cleveland Bros. fence. THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR ANYONE!! I walked my bike because it’s very narrow. Did this once with no plans to do it again.

However, this got me to thinking, about a slightly different route for Phase 4 around Cleveland Bros. I say this because the route to hug the creek behind Cleveland Bros. is still very narrow. Their buildings in a few spots are seemingly within 20-25 feet (I don’t know the exact dimensions) of the usable space to route the trail.

Has it been considered to route Phase 4 this way?

  • This is oriented based on heading east:
    • Using the existing trackbed, cross Cleveland Bros. entrance off Rt. 22 and continue behind Walker’s Pet Hotail.
    • Turn left immediately after Walker’s building and head toward Rt. 22.
    • Close to Rt. 22, turn right and follow parallel to Rt. 22 until close to Walgreens parking lot.
    • Turn right and follow between Walgreens parking lot and Cleveland Bros. back to the original trackbed.
  • This would require Cleveland Bros. to move maybe 20-25 feet.
  • Benefits:
    • For Cleveland Bros., this would seem to be space they wouldn’t miss.
    • Cleveland Bros. continues to have use of the land between their buildings and the creek. It looks like this property is more valuable for their operations than what is proposed above.
    • Obviously, fences or some other barrier can be constructed between the trail and Cleveland Bros. property, and Rt. 22 for that matter. Drivers would see trail users on this (short) stretch — thereby further promoting the trail. This could have a similar effect of the Jail Trail between both directions of the Parkway East. Lots of people see it and want to know how to get on the Jail Trail trail (I’ve shown many people over the years).
    • The trail gets back into alignment with the original trackbed earlier than later (i.e. closer Walgreens instead of closer to School Road) with no impact to Cleveland Bros. at this point.

Just a thought. Maybe this was already considered and ruled out. Maybe there are drainage issues near the area bordered by the trackbed, Walgreens, and School Road. I’m just brainstorming.


Steven
Participant
#

What do those L-shaped symbols mean on Westmoreland County’s map?

In Duff Park, similar marks span Turtle Creek in spots, but they don’t seem to mark crossings, as they don’t correspond to spots where the park trails cross the stream.

Could they indicate property rights somehow span the gap between the two Cleveland Brothers properties, maybe via an easement of some sort? Or are they simply surveyor’s marks of some kind?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

I believe they denote ownership. Whoever owns one end of the spike owns the other. More to the point, it’s considered one property, with a right-of-way or easement or separate parcel splitting the two.


ccorbran
Member
#

I just took a look at the Westmoreland site.  It states that the trail chapter meeting at 7 PM is after a public forum on Phase IV.  Anyone know when the public forum starts?

 

 


MattK
Member
#

From the WHT e-mail sent to me:

“The Westmoreland Heritage Trail Monthly Board Meeting will be held;Thursday, February 8th, at the Export Italian American Club, 5930 Kennedy Ave, Export, PA 15632
A Westmoreland County Parks Public Meeting presenting the Engineering Particulars and a Q&A session for the Planned Phase IV
Trail construction from The Roberts Parcel Parking Access in Murrysville to Lincoln Avenue, Export will precede the WHT Board Meeting and begin at 7:00 p.m.
Everyone is welcome, Hope to see you there.”

The way I read it, the public meeting will begin at 7:00PM, and the WHT meeting (which is also open to the public) will directly follow it.


ccorbran
Member
#

Got it.  That does make more sense.


ccorbran
Member
#

I attended the meeting last night at the Italian American Club.  It was a packed house for the first part of the meeting relating to Phase IV of the trail project.  Following this presentation, there was a shorter, smaller meeting for the trail group.  Mostly covered basic business but it was mentioned that there is a desire to connect to the GAP.

An interesting point that I think may have been mentioned here, but now seems official, is that the trail as planned runs between the Cleveland Brother building and Turtle Creek.  There looks to be a good chunk of resources for signage at the crossing of School Rd to make this connection. 

  • This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by  ccorbran.

ccorbran
Member
#

and a little more info from the TRIB.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

I was going to post this as a comment, but don’t have an account on the Trib’s page. If anyone else feels like plagiarizing this, go right ahead.

 

It is technically possible to bike from the Trafford end of the trail to the Great Allegheny Passage trail, but on public roads, not on trails. Follow PA130 into East Pittsburgh, Tri-Boro Expressway then Braddock Ave into and through Braddock, Kenmawr and Miller Aves through Rankin, then Church and Commercial through Swissvale. From there, one brief trail in Frick Park gets you close to the Homestead Grays Bridge (use the sidewalk), from which it’s a quick ride to the GAP. But warning, this is not for inexperienced cyclists or anyone uncomfortable with 50+ mph cars or heavy truck traffic. Viable alternatives are non-existent at present.


MattK
Member
#

Thanks for the update, ccorbran!  It looks like the route cuts down the number of driveway crossings from 3 to 1, which helps.  If they’d have continued along the creek and gone behind the sports center instead of in front of it, they could have avoided the final Cleveland Bros crossing as well.   Of course that would raise the issue of having to pursue a land use agreement with yet another property owner, but I hope they’ve at least considered it.

StuInMcCandless, I like that you’re still thinking about this.  The momentum to connect the WHT to the GAP is building, and we need to keep pressing for it.  We know the abandoned rail bed on the right bank of Turtle Creek can get us off route 130.  We know about the unused road through the floodgate which can get us safely around the Tri Boro Expressway (still not open, AFAIK).  We know which streets provide good routes through Braddock and Rankin.  We have to keep pushing to get the safest routes open to everybody, not just to a few guys who are willing to climb over fences.  Getting a safe route from the GAP to the WHT is both doable and in the public interest.

And on that subject, what is the latest news on the progress of Deborah Brown’s 5 boroughs group?   Has anyone heard when they will be meeting again?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

I have an unconfirmed report that one of the fences by the Westinghouse flood gate has been moved. Can someone on that side of town please check into this?


zzwergel
Member
#

Is the trail eventually going bypass Tri-Boro Expressway?


paulheckbert
Moderator
#

I went through the Westinghouse flood gate today, and checked the gate across Route 2183 / Old Braddock Ave near what the railroad people call Bessemer Junction, and saw no changes to the fences. Things look the same.

To answer Zach: we hope so, as much as possible; no route has been finalized. One exception would be a short section along Braddock Ave between O’Connell Blvd in North Braddock and Route 2183. That section of Braddock Ave has fast cars & trucks.


zzwergel
Member
#

@paul,

Will Traffic calming, “Bikes May use full lane” signs, and sharrows help?

Why did it replace a bike emoji with a question mark? Errrr!

  • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  zzwergel.

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