Support strong for trail through Brackenridge
Support was strong Thursday night for the proposed Three Rivers Heritage Trial’s plans to pass through the Brackenridge riverfront.
About 25 people attended the informational meeting in Brackenridge council chambers. The Heritage Trail would run from Millvale to Freeport, where it would hook up with several other trails.
While there were no opponents of the project, several residents had a number of concerns aired.
The proposed 1/2-mile section through Brackenridge’s First Avenue would start near Cherry Street and finish at the Mile Lock Lane-ATI Industries intersection.
The first section from Cherry Street through Morgan Street appears simple enough, with the 8 foot to 10 foot wide trail for bicycles and pedestrians running through Brackenridge Memorial Park.
But the pump station at the corner of First Avenue and Morgan Street presents difficulty.
The proposal by Project Manager Brian Krul of TranSystems would have trail users cross First Avenue, cross Morgan, then cross first again to resume the trail.
“We area a safety-first group for residents and bicyclists,” Krul said. “Our job is to put the set of plans together.”
Resident Rick Jones suggested filling in the well, formerly used as an intake area for the Brackenridge water service. The water system has a pipe extending out into the Allegheny River and no longer uses the intake area. A small footbridge was also suggested, but Krul said that would be more expensive.
Resident Randy Negley said he supports the trail, but is concerned that patrons for his wife beauty salon wouldn’t have any place to park if available spaces are being used by trail enthusiasts.
Brackenridge council President Timothy Connelly said the borough owns that land and could make a decision on the trail route.
Another difficult section is between the pump station to Mile Lock Lane where available land is narrow.
Several residents asked if a fence could be installed to prevent a child from falling down toward the river. Different types of fencing material is available, but residents who spoke were against the idea of a chain-link fence to block the view of the rivers.
Trail planners suggested hedges or shrubbery with periodic openings so residents can go to the river and fish.
Bicyclist Joe Glaister said he often uses the Butler-Freeport trail where there is a 75-foot drop-off in some places.
“I’ve not heard of anybody being hurt,” Glaister said. “I see adults and children using the trail constantly.”
Courtney Mahronich-Vita, director of trail development for Friends of the Riverfront, couldn’t estimate how many people would use the trail but points out the Allegheny Passage Trail from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. attracts about a million uses annually.
Palns could be completed by this summer.
“This is a big community asset,” Krul said. “This is your trail. It’s going to be a great thing for the community.”
Brackenridge council members were present and no votes were taken, though all council members verbally supported the project.
George Guido is a freelance writer.