Turtle Creek Rail Trail
By West, do you mean toward Braddack? Heading toward E. Pittsburgh, there is a four-lane, up-hill section of road that becomes elevated and has no sidewalk or shoulder.
I’m talking east of there. The ride out to Edgar Thomson is OK by my standards. If you keep going east toward East Pittsburgh you’ll run into a real highway, as you say. In my experience, it’s tougher heading towards Braddock than the other way, but you might find either direction too much to handle. In that case, I would do something like this, starting near the Braddock library:
Head northeast on Library St toward Maple Way
Continue onto Jones Ave
Turn right onto Bell Ave
Continue onto Center St
Turn right onto Main St
This will take you to Main St in East Pittsburgh, by a hilly but more or less low traffic route.
The same day I went through Braddock, I took a ride to the Carrie Furnace. On google maps, a green trail running from Duck Hollow to the dead-end of N. Braddocksfield Ave. under the Rankin Bridge. Is this a legitimate trail? The area around the furnace appears to be under construction and is fenced off with no trespassing signs.
- This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by zzwergel.
I’ve ridden the Triboro (4 lane – divided road between Braddock and E. Pittsburgh/Turtle Creek) on the weekends. Taking the lane and riding either direction , in the morning, the traffic is very light and I’ve had no issues. I’ve only ridden east in the afternoon, traffic is heavier but again I’ve had no issues. This is on the weekends mind you. During the week I wouldn’t use that route.
Tri Boro Expy. goes from Penn Ave. Extension in East Pittsburgh to Thomas St. in Monroeville. It intersects Brown Ave., Thompson St., Grant St., and Monroeville Ave. before becoming freeway like through Wilmerding. I Cannot be in Braddock in the morning because I rarely wake up before 9:00 AM and live in Aspinwall.
Compare these photos.
Looking downstream along Turtle Creek. Streetcar on old Braddock Ave at bottom, and the now-defunct town of Bessemer Junction at bottom center. Upper left is Edgar Thomson Works in North Braddock, and the Monongahela River. Upper right is East Pittsburgh.
Seeing all of that smoke makes me cringe. At least we don’t have it that bad today.
I believe only one building remains from Bessemer Junction. If not the same building, it’s in the same spot and is the same size and alignment.
Also cool to note the use of that narrow little road the flood gate is on, now 2138, was at one time a heavily used thoroughfare. And since freight rail and transit rail have different gauge rail widths, how did they fit both through that narrow notch, and simultaneously support bi-directional auto traffic?
Good find on that old photo, Paul. I hadn’t seen that one yet.
Stu, I’ve wondered the same thing myself. The stone arches of the PA railroad bridge would have passed over old Braddock Ave decades before the floodgate did, so that would always been a choke point. Pennsylvania Trolley gauge track was 6 inches wider than standard gauge, so a dual-gauge single track trough there might have been possible. I’m thinking it could have been a track with 3 rails, 2 at 4′ 8″ and another 6 inches outside. I haven’t seen any photos to confirm this, so it’s just a guess on my part.
The carriages, with and without horses, would have to yield to the trains and trolleys when the larger railed vehicles passed through. I think that the headache this caused when automobiles became more popular would have been part of the motivation to construct the Triboro Expressway.
“Share your ideas on plans to improve walking, biking and hiking in Monroeville
Monroeville Active Transportation Plan
7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018
Council Chambers, 2700 Monroeville Blvd, Monroeville, PA 15146”
It looks like Monroeville has received a similar grant as the 5 Boroughs group did the previous year. See the final page here:
A video of Monroeville’s presentation on Oct 18 has now been posted : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTjGdkZWv2w
About 20 people were in the audience, mostly from Monroeville but some from surrounding communities. We talked informally in groups after the presentation, and the ideas were flowing freely. People were welcomed to draw their ideas right on the map, which Elaine Kramer took with her back to Pashek MTR. More rounds of input and revisions are expected soon.
The Powerpoint of the above presentation is also online now: http://www.monroeville.pa.us/PDF/ATP/2018-10-18%20Pub%20Mtg%20AT%20presentation.pdf
The final bridge of phase 4 (TCKR MP 9.29) was stripped down to the metal as of a couple weeks ago. I know the original plan was to re-deck it this fall, but no exact dates have been announced. In the meantime, this one is easy to detour around via Old Wm Penn Hwy.
The winning bid for the bulk of Phase 4 construction went to Plum Contracting for $1.3 million. As with the previous phase, groundbreaking is set for March. Anticipated completion is next August. Hope for a grand opening party in Export then.
In somewhat quieter news, Westmoreland County was awarded a $30k grant to study the~4 mile Export to Delmont segment of the future trail. It looks like some of the land needed is already owned by the RTC or Murrsyville, some by a utility company, some by others. No word on acquisitions…but the parcel maps are here. The linear parcels of the former rail line are easy to find on the map.
The deck of the final bridge on phase 4 (near the Rivertowne Brewery) is now complete. Only railings and such need done now, work on this is expected next Saturday. Some surveying work has been going on on the trail itself in anticipation of spring construction. March is still the target date for the beginning of this, though I expect they will work around the weather as need be.
Comedy night was entertaining. Thousands were raised for the WHT and Five-Star trail projects. The March For Parks is scheduled for March 30th of this year. That is expected to pull in even more money for the parks and trails.
Here’s another look at Old Braddock Ave:
Check out how the trolley, the tracks and the floodgates looked back in 1964.
West of the flood gate, but looking east, toward it, if I am interpreting this correctly. The trolley car looks askew, I think, because it is merging from two-track to single-track operation to pass through that narrow bit by the flood gate. The stream appears to be on the right. Does this sound right?
Yes, Stu. The standard gauge railroad line would have been somewhere behind the parking lot on the right of the photo, and merged in very close to where the flood gates are. I still don’t know for sure how any track gauge mismatch between the trolleys and the trains was handled.
We went exploring back there nearly two years ago. I’d hoped that fence would have been opened by now. Anyone out there in BikePGHland who knows what (if anything) is happening next?
The Trafford to Murrysville section of the WHT was in excellent condition today. There had been different instances of storm damage since last year along the trail, but there was no issue with that today because the crews have taken care of the trail to the max. They really do a fantastic job.
Soon, this same ride will go into Export. It’s gonna be fun!
The WHT is supposed to be extend from Murrysville to Export some time this year.Does anyone know what month?? I was planning to go out there in a few weeks,(in May), if finished.Also any more news on Turtle Creek Trail supposedly going from Waterfront to Turtle Creek??
According to the Murrysville Trail News, the plan is to have the trail complete to Export in time for Export’s Ethnic Food & Music Festival in August. I don’t know which week in August that will be.
Weekend of August 17th
This document mentions the connection between WHT and GAP as being something they wish they could do but don’t yet have the funding. On page 4
I’d love to see a map for the plan for the WHT to connect to the GAP; assuming that this will be a bike trail, and will not share a road. I can’t imagine the route.
@71bucs The general idea is to follow the north side of Turtle Creek along the right of way from the Westinghouse Interworks Railroad. There is already a short rail trail using it called the Airbrake Ave. Walking Trail. So if the trail followed Turtle Creek to Braddock and crossed the river on the Rankin Hot Metal Bridge, it would connect to the GAP.
@71bucs and anyone else who came in late: In April 2017, five of us took a field trip, on bikes, scouting out where a path might go. Most of that is on video. Page back on this thread to this link. The videos are public, but not listed on my YouTube channel, so the only way you’ll find them is from this thread.
Warning, you’re going down a two-hour rabbit hole, minimum, four if you want to look at the rear video, too. It took me a week to process and upload it all.
I would appreciate sharing only on a need-to-know basis. It took only one day for some jerk to start sharing these widely with no context, which led to me de-listing them.
- This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by StuInMcCandless. Reason: Added warning about oversharing
A rough outline of the proposed WHT-GAP connection is here:
Thanks guys, for the great help on this!
Now I know the possible route to the Gap. It’s certainly going to be a while before that would become a reality. In the meantime, I’m anticipating the finish of the current work on the WHT from Murrysville to Export.
Also, on the southern end of the WHT, there are some railroad tracks yet to be removed in order to get easily into Trafford, proper. It’s a bit rough getting through there now, but I can do it if there hasn’t been any very recent rain.
Again, thanks for the help. I watched all of the videos, and admittedly, I did some fast-forwarding.
The tracks from just beyond B-Y pond to the “Pittsburgh Line” (The heavily active main railroad line) are still owned by Norfolk Southern. This appears to be the legacy of the original sale of the Turtle Creek Industrial Track from Conrail to Dura-Bond in 1982. Most of the track was sold to Dura-Bond, which later sold it to Westmoreland County a few years after service on the line ended in 2009. However the 0.9 miles of the track closest to the main line was retained by Conrail, from which Norfolk Southern inherited it.
NS has been using the segment of this track closest to the main line as a staging area for maintenance equipment. Fortunately, this portion is not needed to complete the WHT to Trafford. The part that is needed for the trail is not in active use, and has fallen into disrepair due to landslides. This section, “the cut” is the part which many people walk and mountain bike along between the Rt 130 bridge and the start of the WHT.
It’s no secret that Westmoreland County wants to buy this land from Norfolk Southern; they have openly stated this to the press. The location makes it useful as a rail-trail, while the landslides and its dead-end location make it useless as a railroad. The sale of this section would be a win for both buyer and seller, and I suspect both parties know this. Now they just need to agree on a price…
@ MattK and anyone else on this subject: I just went through “the cut” again yesterday. I was able to get by because the puddles have shrunk, so I was able to roll my bike down low under one fallen tree. But, I had to carry it for so much of the way before I could ride it through to Trafford.
I had spoken last month with a fellow cyclist who said he had cut back the fallen trees after the first series of landslides. He had intended to get back to cut the rest (he lives in Trafford), but it was apparent to me that he hadn’t gotten around to that yet. If those trees are removed, there is a somewhat bumpy path right beside the track on which it is suitable enough to ride.
Once you exit “the cut,” there is a road (Stewart Station Drive), that, heading north from here, you could get quickly out to Forbes Road and shortly get to the WHT. However, before you get to some businesses (Chelsea Building Products and a few others) along this road, there is an unlocked and open gate with a No Trespassing sign on the fence. This is at the old Westinghouse plant. Yet, this is a public road, so I don’t understand that. Possibly, it’s an old sign that hasn’t been taken down. But, I’ve never tried to encroach upon this property. Maybe I should; all that can happen is that I’m stopped and turned back.
I do know this much — the merchants in Trafford want easy access to their town from the WHT. “The cut” will have to be made more accommodating.
What help does the guy need in cutting up those trees? Too big a job for one person? Can WHT people round up some help?
@stuinmccandless: This is really a one person job — just to get some trees out of the way. I don’t own a gas chainsaw, or the path would be clear already.
Nonetheless, it seems that the interest in the WHT is now focused on the work between Murrysville and Export. Since “the cut” is at the extreme other end of the trail, and most riders are not interested in getting into Trafford, this is just not an important issue for them. Other riders (like myself) have broken away or dragged some smaller branches out of the makeshift path that we have created. I go through there so I can put on additional miles in the Trafford area. Most people do not bother with “the cut.” I am only assuming that this issue will be dealt with eventually, but I haven’t found anyone home at the Main Trailhead in Murrysville to speak with.
I appreciate your concern.
The reason the Murrysville to Export section is being constructed now is that the land for that expansion has been purchased from Dura-Bond and is now owned by Westmoreland County. The Cut in Trafford is still owned by Norfolk Southern. Until that land is purchased, I’m not sure what the county or others are officially allowed to do with regard to maintaining it. They may have to do something if the landslides threaten the buildings above the cut, but general maintenance on that track still appears to be the responsibility of its current owner. I have noticed that, on occasion, fallen trees have been cleared from the idle tracks, though I don’t need to ask who did the work, and don’t expect them to tell…
Acquisition of The Cut is a a very high priority. Malcolm Sias and Jeff Richards give the trail board an update on their progress nearly every month. They are talking with the owners. People from Norfolk and Westmoreland have walked the site. The land has been appraised. If and when the parties agree to a deal, I’m sure they will tell us. I know the Westmoreland County officials want to get that land purchased and ready for construction just as much as the rest of us, if not more so.
@mattk: I gotcha on this. I understand the situation as you explained it. Thank you.
I’m going to still pass through this cut when it is not semi-flooded. I hope the guy with the chainsaw who was mentioned above stops by again.
A little update: Phase 4 construction seems to be progressing nicely. A pile of crushed stone can be seen next to Old William Penn Highway. It looks like they are getting very close to putting the top coat of stone on the trail. I haven’t heard anything officially about whether they are on schedule for the August opening date. But from casual observation, it appears to be going well. Hopefully those “closed for construction” signs will start coming down soon. :)
But before then, for those interested two “trail town” events will be hosted this Saturday June 1st near sections of the trail that are already complete. “Music, food, ice cream and fun activities are planned for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at B-Y Park in Trafford. The celebration then will continue with more of the same from 4-8 p.m. at the Slickville Fireman’s Pavilion.”
FYI: crushed limestone has been going down starting at the Export end of the trail the last two days. The steamrollers have been busy.
I can see the new trail segment from my house. I’m excited!
At least as of today, the trail is now open from Trafford to Export! I rode it this morning; very enjoyable.
Glad to hear it! I’m sure you rode right past my fence. I will be getting out for a ride soon myself.
I’m going to have to stop in the Export Deli soon. It’s handy to the trail. Other restaurants should pick up some new business now.
When I met with the managers of the Trafford Commerce Center recently, their understanding was that Stewart Station Drive was private north of the “yellow poles” probably around the location of the open gate and sign you mentioned.
Others in the community mentioned the abundance of activity and car traffic at the ball fields immediately south of the PA-130 bridge. Something to consider if you are biking in the area on weekends during baseball season.
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