Westmoreland officials hope to award contract for next stretch of Heritage Trail this fall
Planning work for the fourth phase of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail is about "70 percent complete," according to county parks and recreation Director Malcolm Sias.
The 3.4-mile stretch will skirt around the back of Cleveland Brothers on Route 22 in Murrysville before crossing School Road South, Haymaker Farm Road and going under Route 22, crossing Van Buren Street and ending at Lincoln Avenue in Export.
Sias and parks planning coordinator Jeff Richards gave a quick synopsis of the trail's next phase to a packed room at the Italian-American Club in Export on Thursday night.
Westmoreland Heritage Trail Committee President Stan Rudge of Harrison City said the third phase of the trail, which opened in late September 2017, is being used "by a tremendous number of people."
Rudge has also been certified as a trail monitor and trained an additional eight volunteers to receive their certification. The trail monitoring program began through the Regional Trail Corporation in West Newton about 15 years ago.
"It's volunteers who use the trail on more of a regular basis. They're ambassadors of the trail," Rudge said. "They see people who have questions, and they can stop and answer questions, assist in small repairs and things of that nature."
Sias said trail officials hope to award a contract for the next section by the end of September, with construction starting in March 2019, "and hopefully by sometime in June, we'll have it open to the public," he said to a round of applause.
The trail will be a 10-foot-wide, crushed limestone path. Richards said electronic markers will be erected where it crosses School Road South — similar to what is now in place where the third phase crosses Trafford Road in Murrysville — and additional road crossings will incorporate stop signs for cyclists and joggers.
Once the fourth phase is finished, the next step will be 3 to 4 miles connecting Export to Delmont.
"There's a small gap west of Trafford," Sias said. "And as you know, once you get to Trafford, you're only a few miles from the Great Allegheny Passage."
Sias said the turnout on Thursday was the largest he'd seen for a county parks planning meeting.
"It goes to show how much people care about the trail and this project," he said.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.