Turtle Creek Rail Trail

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PIT2MAD
Member
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Any idea how to get Google to add this trail to its “biking” maps.

I  like turning on the biking layer and seeing the growing network of green lines around the region. This trail has had sections open for years now and still no recognition on Google.

I tried a few of their reporting options but nothing quite applies to the biking and I’ve seen no changes


TheSteelGator
Member
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Not much out there on the Internet about this, which is surprising to me. Best as I can tell, the only way is to suggest “missing road” to Google. But it seems like they aren’t very quick about responding to requests, unfortunately.

@71bucs, the deli is good. Lots of Boars Head brand lunchmeat options. Two ladies own it and they have always given us (both me and my better half) very prompt service. I like the Export’s Finest sandwich (peppered turkey) on toasted Italian. The portions are large, too.


TheSteelGator
Member
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Forgot to mention that crosswalks and bike crossing symbols were being painted on Monday afternoon. There are also yellow poles up for what I can only assume will be gates near several street crossings. Looks like everything should be done by the Export festival in August.


cycleguy
Member
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The next phase of  work from Export to Delmont…….Just curious” how” they plan on crossing Route 66 and” where” on Route 66 is the trail going to cross???


TheSteelGator
Member
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No one knows for sure yet, @cycleguy. It was announced at a recent Westmoreland Heritage Trail monthly meeting (May, I think) that Westmoreland County has a tentative agreement in place to purchase land from Great Oak Energy between White Valley and Delmont. This parcel was part of the old rail line. I think it would bring the trail up to Route 66 across from Industrial Drive.

To give you a visual, @paulheckbert posted this link back in 2016:

https://goo.gl/maps/Z6AsebdBrbn

This is most likely where the trail will need to cross 66. How that happens, I don’t know. I’d love to see the old train tunnel dug out, but that is highly unlikely due to $$$, I’d think…

  • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  TheSteelGator.

71bucs
Member
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I rode the trail from Trafford this morning, intending to get to the end at the Export Deli.  I didn’t get that far.

The trail was in really bad condition.  Three trees were down, one across the trail completely.  But, the worst part was a little over a mile from Trafford where the limestone was completely washed out for possibly a quarter-mile, and there were very deep and wide ruts. I had to walk my bike — no riding here.  Then, there were two other spots where rocks washed down from the hillside and covered at least 20 yards.  Again, I had to walk my bike.

Further along, there were many sections of partial wash-out that caused a pretty rough ride, but manageable.

Sadly, once past Roberts Trail Access, the newest section has suffered damage also.  What was a smooth ride last week was now like riding on a washboard in some areas.  When I got to Cleveland Brothers, a fence had been put up with a large orange “Trail Closed” sign attached.  I figured that the maintenance people were working ahead, and turned around here.  I just hope that they were working on final touches on the new trail, and not repairing storm damage!

On the way back, I came upon a crew that had removed the tree that covered the trail, and they were going to proceed up the trail.  I thanked them, and wished them good luck.


TheSteelGator
Member
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I’ve been out of town since Tuesday, but from what I’ve seen online it looks like most of Western PA got thrashed by storms this week. The WHT volunteer maintenance crew typically works on Wednesday mornings. Seems like the majority of Westmoreland County got hit on Thursday.


71bucs
Member
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@thesteelgator:  Yes, the county was hit pretty hard.  Quite a few people had floods in their neighborhoods, and subsequent property damage.  I should be more concerned about them than the condition of the trail.

But, when things get back to normal, I will try one of those Export’s Finest sandwiches.  Thanks for the tip.


MattK
Member
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For those curious about the Great Oak Energy parcel, it’s the section that runs from Rt 66 westward approximately to Ringer Court Road in Murrysville, crossing over Morosini Farm Road.  Some pictures of this section of the trackbed can be seen on Coke Oven Mike’s blog entry on the Delmont mines : http://coalandcoke.blogspot.com/2017/01/delmont-mines-turtle-creek-branch-of.html

As far as the rest of the trackbed goes, a couple segments are owned by the regional trail corp, at least one is owned by Murysville, one by Export tire, one by Salem Industrial Drive corp….and some smaller sections are owned by other owners as well.  Compared to the phase 3+4 acquisition from Dura-Bond, less real estate needs to be acquired to complete this potential phase of the trail.  However, it looks like there are a few more different owners that the county will need to make deals with.  It sounds like they are making progress.


71bucs
Member
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The trail is open again from Trafford to Export.  I rode it this morning.  The area near Trafford where the limestone was washed out has been tended to (to a degree).  The limestone has not been replaced, but the ruts have been filled in.  However, it’s better to walk your bike through here.  The rockslides haven’t been totally cleaned up, but some of the rocks have been moved.  Again, it’s best not to ride over what has been left.

As for the newest section that was closed down last Friday, repairs have been made, and it is back to good riding condition.  Apparently, the storm had taken it’s toll in places here, too.  It’s all fixed, now.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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I rode Trafford-Saltsburg today (using mostly rural roads between Export and Delmont). The new section is nice, and the trail is in good condition in most places, but there are a few areas between Trafford and Monroeville where rock debris washed across the trail. They were not too hard to bike through. When I started to bike “the cut” west of B-Y Park, the trail was narrow and unfinished, as it has been for years, but there were several fallen trees blocking the path that prompted me to turn around. Hmmm. I have a chainsaw…


71bucs
Member
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@paulheckbert:  That would be one heck of a ride.  Did you do it round-trip?  I hope that wasn’t a naive question.  I know a few riders who have someone to transport them back to their starting point.  That hill in Slickville would be all the tougher if it’s on your return trip.

 


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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Sure. 48 miles round trip. The Slickville Hill is easy by Pittsburgh standards. (Compare the Dirty Dozen)


71bucs
Member
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@paulheckbert:  Nice ride.  When the trail is completely finished, I’d like to do the round trip.  I want to start in Trafford because I live in Irwin.  I’m probably a bit older than you, and although I’ve biked up Slickville hill so many times, my uphill trek was always when I was still fresh because I started in Saltsburg.  So, I’ll have to consider my ability at the time.  I have no idea when the whole trail will be done, and I’d like to think that age won’t matter.  But, it probably will.

BTW, I don’t own a gas chainsaw, but I would certainly be very grateful if someone who did happen to own one cleared out a few downed trees in the cut.  Hmmm.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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The Trafford section of trail apparently got damaged by erosion a few days ago. See pictures at

https://www.facebook.com/WestmorelandHeritageTrail/posts/1186102494894329


MattK
Member
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I saw a phase 4 grand opening poster posted, so I guess it’s official:

Saturday August 17, 2019 at 10:30 AM: ceremony begins at Roberts Lot on Rt 22 in Murrysville.  Then we ride 3.4 miles west to Export, where the celebrations continue at 12:00 noon at the Export Ethnic Food and Music Festival at Lincoln Ave.

Times are listed as approximate.  If it is like 2 years ago, the first ribbon-cutting will occur once the speeches complete in Murrysville, and the second ceremony will take place after the group of bikes finishes the 3.4 mile ride to Export.

Parking at the Roberts lot is limited to ~30 spots that are likely to fill up, so parking at other lots and riding in is encouraged.  Personally, I plan to start my ride in Trafford around 9:30 ish to meet up with the group in Murrysville an hour later.  It should be a good time.


71bucs
Member
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I was able to get through “the cut” on the south end of the trail today.  Some kind soul cleared up enough of the downed trees that I was able to ride/walk/carry my bike into Trafford.


chrishent
Member
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I rode the trail for the first time yesterday, from Trafford to Export and back. Very nice, particularly the first couple of miles along Turtle Creek. The trail is a great asset to the area, and it’s encouraging to see that it has been planned and built well. Hope progress continues and the connection to the GAP is made in the future.

Alos, the washed out section near Trafford is OK to ride. Not pleasant, but passable on a road bike.


Eric
Member
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is there a map of this trail?


chrishent
Member
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MattK
Member
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As of June 27, 2019, Pashek MTR has a draft version of their Monroeville Active Transportation Plan posted.  A possible westward extension of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail is one of the subjects covered:

https://pashekmtr.com/monroeville-active-transportation-plan-draft/

 


Eric
Member
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the map helps! Thanks a lot. I was getting confused about how Turtle Creek fit into Westmoreland county.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I studied that map for several minutes. I’m trying to map in my mind how closely all those broken lines come to what we scoped out a couple years ago.

Here is what I recall us either riding, or pointing out what could or should be done, working east to west.

  • Unusable bridge underneath the PA130 bridge in Trafford
  • RR right-of-way to second, almost usable bridge behind the school bus yard
  • Very narrow path on the south edge of the school bus yard
  • Path below the PA48 bridge
  • Path toward Pitcairn park
  • Missing bridge across small creek
  • Alongside or through used car lot
  • The old trolley line is on the south edge of PA130 through Pitcairn west of the creek
  • Diverge from PA130 to hug Turtle Creek more closely
  • Pass under closed bridge connecting Wall and Pitcairn
  • Follow existing trail trace into eastern edge of Wilmerding
  • Existing established trail through Wilmerding

From here on west, my memory is not clear, but essentially there is an existing railbed which can be put back to use, all the way to the Westinghouse Flood Gate. All of which is more politics than engineering.

How much of the above is represented on that map, I cannot be sure. But maybe that’s good.


MattK
Member
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The map in the 202 page draft report for Monroeville is very light on the details for the proposed rail trail in the Turtle Creek valley downstream (west) of Trafford.  It also stops at the Wilmerding – Monroeville border, since it only covers the Monroeville part.  It seems like the serious work is being left to Allegheny county.  As they have more resources, I hope they take up the project with enough zeal that we get more than just a nice $40k study when they are done.  I appreciate the studies and enjoy reading them, but this proposed connecting trail now exists in so many papers that I have lost count, and only a 1/4 mile in Wilmerding has been built.

Downstream of Wilmerding, historic maps show that the Westinghouse Interworks Railway operated on not one but two (and sometimes more) sets of tracks.  One set of tracks went from the electric plant in East Pittsburgh to the Aribrake factory in Wilmerding; these tracks are still intact, albeit largely in such poor shape as they are unusable.  The other set went from the electric company straight through to the foundry in Trafford; these tracks have been removed and partially become trail (for that short stretch in Wilmerding).

So, downstream of Wilmerding, even if the owner of the debilitated tracks insists on preserving them, there is still an “extra lane” where one (or more) parallel set of tracks ran, meaning a rail-with trail is possible, and has been proposed in the 5 boroughs plan by Pashek that was completed last year.  It doesn’t get tight until the railroad goes down to a single track under the NS bridge very close to the flood gates.  Because of the arch of the underpass, this is only wide enough for one train, but because cyclists and pedestrians do not require as much vertical clearance, there is room for us to pass through on either side of the tracks.

For a working example of a working rail-with-trail inside a comparably sized tunnel, see the Howard Tunnel in York County, PA (zoom in on the photo to see the cyclists by the rail in the tunnel)


MattK
Member
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FYI:

Notice is hereby given that the Municipality of Monroeville will hold a public hearing for public comment on its proposed Active Transportation Plan. The public hearing will be held on August 8, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at the Municipal Building located at 2700 Monroeville Boulevard, Monroeville, PA 15146.

I posted this link to the draft of the plan yesterday in this thread.  Extending the Westmoreland Heritage Trail westward from Trafford is one of several ideas in the plan.  Anyone who likes this idea, or other parts of the plan is encouraged to show up and express support.  Talking about ideas you support is best, but simply quietly showing up to the meeting and putting some butts in the seats can also be helpful.  The meeting is the same date as the WHT monthly meeting which is at a different location, so attendance by WHT board members is expected to be minimal. I hope that other regional members of the cycling / jogging / walking community show up to help fill the void caused by this scheduling conflict.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Sorry, I will be out of town that day. I hope a few others can get there!


MattK
Member
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The trail is now officially open from Trafford all the way to Export.  We had a nice turnout for the celebration: around 100 people or so by my guess (about the same as 2 years ago for the phase 3 opening).  There were many more people on the trail on Saturday just doing their own things, and an even bigger crowd in Export for the food and music.

There’s no set timetable for a phase 5, other than the fact that we know that a feasibility study will happen soon, and that the groundwork is being laid for land acquisition.  The need for a tunnel under Rt 66 looms large.  Tunneling under a state route will take some time in planning and funding, even though modern “cut and cover” pre-cast concrete tunnels are something PennDOT surely has plenty of experience installing.

On the western front, the abandoned Westinghouse Interworks track between Trafford and Wilmerding still lies abandoned…  Turning this into a trail would be easy by comparison.  Allegheny County really has to get behind their part of the trail just as much as Westmoreland County has.  If they do, it can happen, and quickly.


71bucs
Member
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I read yesterday in the Tribune Review that Murrysville officials expect cyclists to be stopping at the stop signs where the WHT crosses roads.  Don’t get me wrong here.  I don’t have a problem with that.

This afternoon, there was a policeman in his vehicle where the trail crosses School Road South at the Murrysville Sportzone.  I stopped.  Others did too; mostly because it was a good idea to do that.

However, I think the most dangerous road crossing is on Trafford Road.  Vehicles traveling north (coming down the hill) are always moving a bit too fast.  But, I have found the motorists here to be quite courteous.  They often stop to let bikers and walkers through when they don’t have to.  One troubling aspect though is that one car will stop to wave you through, but the car from the opposite direction isn’t going along with that.  The article implies that motorists shouldn’t be stopping unnecessarily.

I usually get off my bike and walk it across unless there is definitely no traffic.  I can’t say that I come to a complete stop before I cross.


71bucs
Member
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I rode Trafford to Export today after drinking quite a bit of water at home this morning on my treadmill. I thought nothing of that water consumption until I found that the Porta Johns were removed, apparently for the season.  Fortunately, I found one (not for trail use) at a worksite near the Meadowbrook Road Treatment Plant.  Very lucky, there.

Nonetheless, I’d like to see the Porta Johns stay year-round.  The trail was  busier than I thought it would be today considering the temperature didn’t get above 48 degrees.  I’m certain that I wasn’t the only one inconvenienced by this.  Yes, I know that I’m sounding like a cry-baby.  But, really?  Aren’t we supposed to ride this trail again until spring?


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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71bucs: I recommend you make your port-a-john suggestion at https://www.facebook.com/WestmorelandParkAndRec/ and/or https://www.facebook.com/MurrysvilleTrailAlliance/ as they are the people that maintain that trail, I think.


71bucs
Member
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I’d like to do that, but I’m not on Facebook.

Apparently, the people in charge decided they needed to remove them at this particular time.  I’m curious as to why.  This trail has its share of walkers too, even in the winter.

Thank you for your attempt to help.


The Iguana
Participant
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Pkease don’t get POed about POJs. I’m sure if you just ask the POwers that be, they’ll let you know.

I can speculate since I have direct experience dealing with this crap on the Steel Valley Trail…some pissable reasons:

1. Cost. Someone is paying for this. The City of Pgh paus for them along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail–tax dollars as far as I know; maybe it should be put on the ballot.. The SVT pays for them through membership fees. donations. grants–no municipal funding. Have you ever noticed POJs that were locked? Check out those in the municipal parking lot along the Eliza Trail..why would they lock them?… $$$ to keep them up?… …

2. Use. There is much less use of the trail during the colder months…whuch doesn’t warrant the expense. It DEPENDS.

3. Freezing weather can require treatment of the fluids to inhibit freezing.

4. Maintenance. Access to empty the units, removing poopsicles, etc. may be an issue. The supplier may requure it..

5. etc.

Most likely funding is the main issue and the supplier may require removal for the other reasons.

The SVTC decided to keep them out all year round the last couple years since the weather was staying warmer..and now we got a grant…but we (and all trail groups) still need your volunteer time, donations, and friendly use of this/these great amenities. Indeed if you wush to get involved and be directly responsible in directing our funds, etc., thrre are a few Director ooenings for bext tear that need to be filled at our next Meeting: November 18; 6pm; 1705 Maple Ave., Homestead

Ask…and get invovled…


TheSteelGator
Member
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About the Trail

These folks maintain the trail.

Also, the November WHT Board Meeting will be held this Thursday, November 14th, beginning 7:00 p.m. at The Italian – American Club, 5930 Kennedy Avenue, Export, PA 15632
The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome.

It might a good place to suggest that port-a-johns are kept available.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Welp, so much for the idea of connecting the trail to that little park with the swimming pool. Turnpike Commission wants to widen the road, and rather than work around the pool, they’re buying it and closing it. I do not know what this means for the trail itself, but I’m sure it’s going to be a mess.

https://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2019/11/11/Pennsylvania-Turnpike-Monroveille-Bel-Aire-pool-widening-project/stories/201911070117


MattK
Member
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The Turnpike Commission is just adding to the number of nice neighborhood swim clubs it is annihilating, after wiping out Plum Aqua in 2017.

This will leave Monroeville with 4 pools which field swim teams: Garden City, Gateway Heights, Haymaker, and (University) Park.  Unlike Bel-Aire which was owned by the municipality, these are privately-owned non-profits, and I’m sure they’ll all happily accept former members of Bel-Aire who are willing to make the drive.  I’m curious why they did not discuss acquiring the Foxwood pool, Monroeville’s other former member of the swim-team league which lies closest to Bel-Aire and which closed for a lack of members only a few years ago.

I’m not sure how many WHT users made the trek from the trail up to BelAire.  That climb up Saunders Station Road is so steep that even walking your bike up the shoulder is pretty brutal.  But the mention of “obtaining an easement from the turnpike to give Monroeville access to eventually develop a trail that would connect to the Westmoreland Heritage Trail” is interesting.  All we see right now is their plan to destroy part of the WHT, wiping out a supposedly rail-banked section in the process.  Their idea to re-route the trail looks like it was drawn by someone with little or no knowledge of the trail or the rail that preceded it.   If their published plan is implemented as drawn, we would be permanently losing one valuable turnpike underpass, and be receiving nothing in return.

The turnpike project could simply carve a path of destruction through our communities.  But if we get publicly involved in the design process, this need not be the case.  The people who live nearby have to get involved to make it happen.  A temporary construction road can turn into a bike and walking trail very easily, but only if someone is there to suggest the idea.  If we lose an underpass in one location we should gain another in another location which would better link our neighborhoods.  But if we don’t make our voices known now, we get nothing.

 

 

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