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Three Rivers Heritage Trail gets extension through Blawnox

Tawnya Panizzi

By this time next month, the 24-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail that winds along the banks of Pittsburgh’s waterways will extend another mile or so through Blawnox.

A June 26 meeting will outline plans for the borough’s portion of the trail, one of many segments still necessary for it to one day run continuously from Pittsburgh to points north.Sections targeted for Aspinwall and Sharpsburg are still being negotiated.

“We want people to know what to expect,” said Courtney Mahronich, director of trail development for Friends of the Riverfront.

That group has been working with Allegheny County and its River Town Program on trail extensions in the Lower Valley.

“We don’t want signs going up without people knowing what is exactly happening,” Mahronich said. “The route we’ve decided on uses streets with very minimal traffic.”

Residents can discuss the route and impacts of the trail during a meeting at 6 p.m. at the municipal office along Freeport Road.

In Blawnox, the trail will not be constructed, merely directed along existing streets and green space.

Bikers and walkers will be able to enter the trail at Chapel Harbor at the Water in O’Hara and follow Freeport Road and other residential streets to link to Harmar and beyond. The exact route will be revealed at the meeting.

“Where there are sidewalks available, they will use those,” Mahronich said.

In some places along Freeport Road, shared-lane markings — “sharrows” — will be painted to alert motorists they must share the road with walkers and bicyclists.

Organizers said that because the rail lines are active through the Lower Valley, building a trail near them wasn’t feasible.

“Getting too close is difficult for safety,” Mahronich said. “In many sections of the trail we use residential streets and we try to choose ones where there is minimal traffic.”

The handicapped-accessible Three Rivers Heritage Trail runs 24 miles along the banks of Pittsburgh’s three rivers, currently stopping at Millvale.

Coordinators believe the trail promotes business in municipalities, drawing visitors and shoppers. The 2014 Three Rivers Heritage Trail user survey suggested that the trail generates $8.3 million in annual economic impact, according to Friends of the Riverfront.

Mahronich said trail signs are expected to be installed in Blawnox in July.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at [email protected].


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