Walking and bike riding on the Bethel Branch of the Montour Trail is about to get a bit safer. A 500-ton crane lifted the steel structure of a new bridge into place Wednesday to carry the trail over Clifton Road. Currently trail users have to cross the busy state road at grade. “We have people biking, walking, jogging, walking their dogs, taking their kids out in their strollers so it is a very heavily used section,” said Montour Trail Council Board Member Tom Prezel.
With the steel in place, crews can begin the rest of the work. “Its going to be a concrete deck so they have to put the forms in place, put the concrete in, cure the concrete, there is a curb that has to be put in… We’re currently projecting a September 4th date for an official opening,” said Prezel.
The bridge project came with a price tag of more than a million dollars. The bulk of the funds for the construction came from federal and county grants and the $250,000 in engineering costs was covered mostly by donations from friends and Family of J.R. Taylor for whom the bridge is named.
The 2.7-mile Bethel Branch feeds into the main line of the Montour Trail, which runs from Coraopolis on the Ohio River, trough several south hills communities and ends in Clairton on the Mon River. There are still several gaps along the main line of the Montour Trail. “When the railroad abandon the [line] a lot of these bridges were old bridges and the [PA Public Utility Commission] required that a number of those be taken down,” said Prezel. The Trail Council is still trying to raise funds to close those gaps.