County Executive also announces historic agreement to construct additional 2.5 miles
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato today opened the newest stretch of the Great Allegheny Passage, a mile-long length of trail that includes a 60-foot tunnel. The new link runs from the Riverton Bridge through RIDC’s Riverplace City Center to Grant Avenue in Duquesne.
“Today, we are one mile closer to completing the Great Allegheny Passage, part of a remarkable 335-mile biking and hiking trail stretching from Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.,” said Onorato. “This trail is improving the economy and quality of life in towns throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania, and we’re excited to extend its recreational and
economic benefits into Duquesne.”
The trail extension passes through a tunnel constructed as part of the Duquesne flyover ramp project, which is being built to allow unimpeded access to the RIDC site. The new ramp will cross active railroad tracks and connect Pa. Route 837 to Center Avenue and a new extension of South Linden Street.
“I want to thank PennDOT, RIDC, Wilbur Smith Consultants, Mosites Construction, the Allegheny Trail Alliance, and Steel Valley Trail Council for working together to design and build this tunnel to keep trail users safe by separating them from vehicles and trains,” added Onorato.
With the opening of this new stretch, trail users will be better able to use the Riverton Bridge, a 1200-foot span that carries the Great Allegheny Passage across the Monongahela River between McKeesport and Duquesne. U. S. Steel transferred ownership of the Riverton Bridge to Allegheny County in September 2008, and the former railroad bridge was converted for pedestrian and bike usage. The Riverton Bridge opened to trail users in October 2008.
U. S. Steel has been an important supporter of the Great Allegheny Passage’s completion. In 2007, the company removed a former coke gas pipeline in West Mifflin and Duquesne and transferred the 1.9 miles of property to the Regional Trail Corporation.
Onorato also announced a historic agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway for easements and property acquisitions that will enable the construction of additional sections of the trail, including two bicycle/pedestrian bridges. The first bridge will connect the RIDC section of the trail to the former coke gas pipeline area behind Kennywood by crossing Norfolk Southern’s Port Perry rail
yard. The trail will then continue for approximately 2.5 miles. A second bridge will be built over Norfolk Southern tracks to connect the 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 will connect to the Waterfront in Munhall. This additional section of the Great Allegheny Passage should be completed by next summer.
“This trail is successful because of our many partners during the 30 years it’s taken us,” said Allegheny Trail Alliance President Linda McKenna Boxx. “Local officials, like Duquesne Mayor Phil Krivacek, see the value and excitement that this trail is bringing into their towns. Our volunteers in the trail groups, our local, state and federal agencies providing all types of assistance, and our contractors, who have given us a superior product, all are working for the same thing: a world-class trail that will be a source of pride and economic opportunity to the people in the region.”
Steel Valley Trail Council Allegheny Trail Alliance President Hannah Hardy was on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony and also praised the completion of the Duquesne tunnel and trail connection.
“This was a team effort, and it would not have been possible without the hard work of so many,” she said. “This is another step toward completion of the Great Allegheny Passage, and an excellent complement to the County’s future linear riverfront park,” said Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey, whose district includes Duquesne. “This is a great trail for avid cyclists, and equally
important, a safe path for walkers and hikers.”
With today’s announcement, all but a one-mile section of the Great Allegheny Passage is in the process of being completed.