Onorato Opens Newest Stretch of Great Allegheny Passage in Duquesne

County Executive also announces historic agreement to construct additional 2.5 miles


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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.

Onorato, Weinstein Turn Courthouse Fountain Pink

County Executive encourages downtown businesses to also promote breast cancer awareness
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein today turned the Courthouse fountain pink in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“For the fourth consecutive year, the water in the Allegheny County Courthouse fountain will flow pink throughout October to promote breast cancer awareness,” said Onorato. “Breast cancer is treatable and survivable if it is caught early, and we hope the fountain will remind women and their loved ones of that fact.”

Once again this year, the County Executive has asked other organizations to join in the pink fountain effort to raise awareness and demonstrate our region’s commitment to continued education and research for a cure.

“This is an annual tradition that I will ensure that we continue,” said Weinstein. “Every person knows someone touched by breast cancer. If one woman gets a mammogram as a result of this pink fountain, we may have just saved a life.”

This morning, the Pennsylvania Commission for Women turned the fountain at Point State Park pink. The Sports & Exhibition Authority is turning its water steps on the North Shore and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center water feature pink. The fountain at the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin will also flow pink during October.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 192,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women this year, and an estimated 40,000 women will die from the disease in 2009. Today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.

Onorato Announces Opening of Universal Playgrounds in North & Boyce Parks

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato today announced that new universal playgrounds are now open in North Park and Boyce Park, just in time for Labor Day weekend. The all-inclusive playgrounds are specially designed to meet the needs of children with disabilities, but they are meant to be enjoyed by children of all capabilities.

“Allegheny County is proud to offer these great universal playgrounds so children of all capabilities can enjoy our parks and play side by side,” said Onorato. “We’ve been working diligently during the last several years to make improvements through my County Parks Action Plan, and this new play equipment is a great addition.”

The playgrounds, designed by GameTime, include wheelchair-accessible ramps and platforms wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass one another, reducing confusion and facilitating universal access to the play equipment. The playgrounds are the first in Western Pennsylvania with double-wide ramps and specialized swings designed for different age groups. Other equipment, such as handlebars at the slides and climbing walls, also promotes integrated play.

North Park’s universal playground is located near the swimming pool on South Ridge Drive, and Boyce Park’s is located near O’Block Playground off of Monroeville Trestle Road (Center Road).

Allegheny County received a GameTime Childhood Obesity Grant of $109,149 to help pay for the $478,000 cost of the playgrounds.

Fourth Annual Allegheny County Mountain Bike Festival Starts Fri., July 17

The Allegheny County Parks Department, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group, will host the Fourth Annual Allegheny County Mountain Bike Festival on July 17, 18 and 20.

“Allegheny County arguably has some of the best mountain biking opportunities of any major urban area,” said County Parks Director Andy Baechle. “Within an hour’s drive of Downtown Pittsburgh, there are an abundance of trails suitable for everyone from beginners to the most avid mountain bikers, and many of these trails are conveniently located in Allegheny County Parks.”

During the festival, mountain bikers can participate in free, organized rides in three County parks. The South Park ride begins at 6:00 p.m. on Fri., July 17, at the skating rink parking lot. North Park’s ride starts at 12:00 noon on Sat., July 18, at the swimming pool playground near the McCandless Shelter. The Boyce Park ride begins at 6:00 p.m. on Mon., July 20, at the soccer fields near the Pack Shelter. Cyclists are strongly encouraged to have proper equipment, including a helmet, water and knobby-tired mountain bike in good working condition.

“The Allegheny County Mountain Bike Festival is an inventive way to reach out to the growing number of cyclists and acquaint them with the trail systems available in our County parks,” added Baechle. ―We’re pleased to partner with the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group on this exciting endeavor, and we encourage anyone who likes mountain biking to come out and enjoy what our parks have to offer.”

The rides will last approximately two hours and will cover 12 to 15 miles per ride. All trips will be led by local cyclists who are eager to share their knowledge and experience with festival participants. Following each excursion, bikers are encouraged to bring a snack or dish to share with fellow riders and to take advantage of the pools, picnic shelters, free concerts and other recreational activities and amenities available in the County parks.

For additional information or questions regarding the excursions, please contact the appropriate ride leader:

South Park – John Hinderliter at 412-897-2065 or john.hinderliter@gmail.com
North Park – Brian DelVecchio at 412-559-0470 or bdelvecchio@spkpowerlaw.com
Boyce Park – Barry Jeffries at 412-977-3217 or info@dirtyharrys.net
Information on the Fourth Annual Allegheny County Mountain Bike Festival is also available at www.alleghenycounty.us/parks/bike.aspx.

Allegheny County Concerts & Events for July 8-14


Summer is great for hearing music outdoors, swimming, catching butterflies, stargazing, and more!  Here is a selection of family-friendly, free things to do, courtesy of Allegheny County.

Wed., July 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the North Park Ice Rink
Big Band Bash with Joe Lagnase

Thurs., July 9 at 10:30 a.m.at Boyce, North, Settler’s Cabin and South Park Pools
Learn to Swim Lessons:  Age 5+, last names L-Z

Fri., July 10 at 12:00 noon in the County Courthouse Courtyard, downtown
Karaoke, Ice Cream & Hot Dog Party

Fri., July 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the South Park Amphitheater
Jr. Walker’s All-Star Band (Motown)


Fri., July 10 at 9:00 p.m. in the South Park Wave Pool Parking Lot

Sat., July 11 at 10:00 a.m. at the South Park Nature Center
Butterflies: A Search & Enjoy Mission

Sun., July 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hartwood Amphitheater
Mick Taylor Band (Blues & Rock)

Tues., July 14 at 10:30 a.m. at Boyce, North, Settler’s Cabin and South Park Pools
Learn to Swim Lessons:  Age 5+, last names A-K

All concert acts and times are subject to change. For additional information, call 412-350-2478 or visit

Onorato, Fitzgerald Turn Courthouse Fountain Blue


Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and County Council President Rich Fitzgerald today dyed the Allegheny County Courthouse fountain blue to raise awareness of prostate cancer and to promote the 7th Annual Father’s Day 5K/10K Run & Walk for Prostate Cancer, which will be held on Sun., June 21.

“More than 186,000 men are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, which is comparable to the number of women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Onorato. “If it’s detected early enough, prostate cancer is treatable and survivable. If our efforts to promote prostate cancer awareness encourage even one man to be screened, then we have made a difference.”

Onorato and Fitzgerald declared the week of June 15 “Prostate Cancer Awareness Week” in conjunction with the annual Father’s Day run and walk to benefit the Obediah Cole Foundation for Prostate Cancer.

“Early detection is absolutely critical to treating and surviving prostate cancer,” said Fitzgerald. “We are proud to do our small part in raising awareness and encouraging men to visit their doctors.”

Founded by prostate cancer survivors Jerry Bortman and Jerry Livingston, and former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Robin Cole, the Obediah Cole Foundation for Prostate Cancer is an organization that focuses on boosting education, awareness, and early detection of the disease.

Registration for the Father’s Day Run & Walk for Prostate Cancer is from 7:00 to 8:15 a.m. on Sunday at River Front Park near Heinz Field. Families and individuals who are not running can participate in the one-mile Promenade Stroll starting near the Bettis Grill. Free prostate exam screenings will be available for men over the age of 40 at the race packet pickup area on Sat., June 20, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at River Front Park outside of Heinz Field’s Gate A.

In preparation for the Primary Election

Local elections can be very complex, what with all of the representatives that we elect to various offices. As citizens, our duty is to stay informed, not only about the issues and candidates but also about the process, dates and filings that lead up to the elections of Councilmen, Magistrates and our Mayor.

There are several sites dedicated to keeping Pittsburgh residents informed and prepared for these very important positions. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, for instance, has an entire page devoted to Voter and Election information. Links from this page includes a Polling Place Locator, District maps for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and even some sites dedicated to election coverage and returns. Definitely, you should bookmark this handy page; it will be invaluable.

One very important site is VotesPa, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s online voting information and resource center.This site is the last word on voting and elections in Pennsylvania. You can download a voter’s registration form here as well absentee ballot applications. You can also stop in the Polish Hill Civic Association to pick up a registration form; we always have some handy. Not sure if you are registered? VotesPA also offers online registration confirmation. In Pennsylvania, the deadline to register to vote is 30 days prior to each election. Applications received after that date will be processed for the next primary, special, municipal or general election.

The next opportunity that you, as a conscientious citizen, will have to exercise your right to vote will be on May 19, 2009. Even though that seems like a long time away, don’t delay in getting yourself registered! In order to be eligible to vote, you must register by April 19, 2009. Please remember that Pennsylvania is a closed primary state, so only people who are registered to the party in question will be able to elect candidates for that party in the primary elections. By the way, the same deadlines apply if you want to change your party affiliation. To change your party affiliation, just fill out a new voter registration form.

The following list was compiled by P2pac. It’s a handy little scorecard of what we will be looking at for the May 19 primary election. The general election for these offices will be held on November 3, 2009. The names in parenthesis are the individuals currently holding those offices —


(Luke Ravenstahl)

2nd (vacant)*
4th (Jim Motznik)**
6th (Tonya Payne)
8th (William Peduto)
For more information: http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/council/

12th (James Ellenbogen)
For more information: http://www.alleghenycounty.us/council/index.aspx

For more information: http://www.alleghenycourts.us/

2-38 (Charles A. McLaughlin, Jr.)**
2-42 (Robert P. Ravenstahl, Jr.)
3-10 (Eugene Zielmanski)**
3-12 (Kevin E. Cooper)
For more information: http://www.aopc.org/T/SpecialCourts/MDJSearch.htm

1st (Randall Taylor)
3rd (Thomas Sumpter)
5th (Theresa Colaizzi)
7th (Jean Fink)
9th (Floyd McCrea)
For more information: http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/14311059122535553/site/default.asp

This next election will include candidates from the Polish Hill Civic Association membership. We would like to acknowledge them in their efforts in the upcoming elections. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Councilman Patrick Dowd, both PHCA members, are contributors to the neighborhood newsletter, the Polish Hill Voice. Both are vying for the democratic nomination on May 19. In addition, Tony Ceoffe and Susan Banahasky, both subscription members of the PHCA, are putting in a bid for the Magistrate’s office, currently occupied by Eugene Zielmanski. The PHCA wishes all of these members the best of luck in the upcoming race.

CCAC announces public job fairs

Community College of Allegheny County has scheduled four job fairs, all open to the students, alumni, and the general public.

The fairs will be held:

  • March 6, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., North Campus, gymnasium
  • March 11, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., South Campus, Fourth Floor Commons
  • March 18, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Allegheny Campus, student center
  • April 17, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Boyce Campus, Student Union

All applicants should dress professionally and bring copies of their resumes.
Here is more information from the CCAC website.

Get rid of your freon-containing appliances for free



To do this year’s pickups, the health department program has contracted with Appliance Warehouse, which can make pickups countywide, and Parkway Heating & Air Conditioning in 24 municipalities in the southern and western parts of the county.

Appliance Warehouse will also collect appliances that do not contain freon, including stoves, washers and dryers, for free, but only if they are put on the curb with a freon-containing appliance.

Only household appliances, not industrial or commercial appliances, are eligible. Allegheny County residents can register for the appliance pickup service by calling Appliance Warehouse at 1-888-463-7366 or Parkway Heating & Air Conditioning at 412-279-6001.

We have been told that the pick-up day for Polish Hill is February 19th, so call now and get your name on the list.  You must have the appliance(s) on the curb by 9 am the day of pickup.

Read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Don Hopey, Monday, February 09, 2009

Job cuts, and an opportunity

It was announced today that PNC is planning 5,800 job cuts over the next two years.  Here’s the link to the Post-Gazette article:

One Pittsburgh area entity that is doing something to help laid-off workers is the Community College of Allegheny County.  In their words: “In response to the economic downturn, the Community College of Allegheny County is introducing its own stimulus package for Western Pennsylvania, offering tuition waivers for laid-off workers and transition programs for employers forced to downsize. Find out if you qualify at the Career Transition Center for Dislocated Workers.

Here’s the Post-Gazette article, Calls stream in for CCAC’s free tuition: