Organizers announce name, path of Blawnox trail
Organizers of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail to be opened in Blawnox next month have announced the name and a dedicated course.
Dubbed the Allegheny Valley Trail, the section will primarily use Pine Street to make its way through Blawnox. Sharrows denoting the street is for cars, bikers and walkers will be painted for safety, said Courtney Mahronich, director of trail development for Friends of the Riverfront.
When the trail diverts to side streets, like Center Avenue, minimal traffic is expected, she said.
Signs and painted markers will be installed in July. No construction is necessary.
Plans to take the trail off main streets and closer to the Allegheny River were scrapped because of the active Norfolk Southern Railroad line, she said.
Mahronich's group has worked with Blawnox Council and Allegheny County to extend the existing 24-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail through the borough. Until now, the trail has wound along the banks of Pittsburgh's three rivers, with Lower Valley sections only in Millvale, O'Hara and Etna.
Sections targeted for Aspinwall and Sharpsburg are still being negotiated.
Blawnox will join the partnership of 17 municipalities that house the trail which eventually, organizers want to see connect in Freeport to the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail.
Mahronich said a Community Trails Initiative Study was completed in 2011 for the Allegheny River corridor, so the Blawnox section finally coming to fruition feels exciting. She said the community has been receptive.
Cathy McCollom, director of the Allegheny River Town program, said trails offer quality-of-life benefits for residents and an economic draw for local businesses, as they attract visitors who spend money.
A 2014 Rails-to-Trails Conservancy User Impact Survey revealed that the trail generates an $8.3 million annual economic impact from 822,000 users, she said.
The Allegheny River Town program will pay for the signs installed in the borough. The Pennsylvania Environmental Council makes the program available to connect communities to trail and river recreation.
For more on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, visit the Friends of the Riverfront website.
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.