A three-mile section of the Great Allegheny Passage opened today when Allegheny County, Allegheny Trail Alliance, and Steel Valley Trail Council representatives raised a ceremonial railroad crossing gate that connects that 150-mile biking and hiking trail with the 185-mile C&O Canal Towpath at Cumberland, Maryland.
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato said today's opening marks 2 milestones... “First, this part of the trail was the most difficult to complete in Allegheny County due to the active rail lines and numerous property owners. Second, it means that we are literally in the home stretch of finishing the entire 335-mile trail from Downtown Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Less than one mile remains, and we are working hard to get it completed.”
The new section runs from Grant Avenue in Duquesne to a new 110-foot-long bridge that crosses Norfolk Southern’s Port Perry rail yard and connects to the southern end of the former U.S. Steel coke gas pipeline. A second new bridge, which is 170 feet long, crosses six sets of railroad tracks and connects the northern end of the coke gas pipeline trail to a portion of Allegheny County’s Carrie Furnace site on the south side of the Monongahela River in Whitaker. From there, the trail connects to the Waterfront in Munhall.
Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, believes this will be one of the most popular sections of the Great Allegheny Passage.
“It will be used for recreation, but also by people who work at the Waterfront or the RIDC parks for commuting to work or going out for lunch. This was by far the most complicated piece of trail in our 30-year history of trail building, and we are thrilled with the results."
In October 2010, the county signed easement agreements with Sandcastle Waterpark and CSX Corporation that will enable completion of the final 0.85-mile section of the Great Allegheny Passage. The final segment will follow Sandcastle Drive and pass under a railroad bridge and the Glenwood Bridge, connect to another segment under development....and then link to the existing South Side trail.