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Carnegie man's vision has folks zipping to city's North Shore

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Adam Young of Carnegie won a $1,000 grant from Awesome Pittsburgh this month for his proposal to install a zipline from Mount Washington to the North Shore in Pittsburgh. He hopes to have the project, called ZipPitt, completed within two years. Doug Gulasy | The Signal Item

On a visit to Mount Washington six months ago, Adam Young did the same thing as many people before him: He admired the view.

Then a random thought crossed his mind.

“I thought, ‘It'd be incredible to zipline across the river to the North Shore,'” said Young, 30, of Carnegie.

What began as a simple idea is blossoming into something bigger. Young received a $1,000 grant this month from Awesome Pittsburgh for ZipPitt, his proposal to run a zipline from atop Mount Washington to a landing spot a half-mile away on the North Shore.

Young is working to secure permits and funding to make his proposal succeed. He hopes to see the zipline completed within two years.

“Right now it seems like we have support from the community, people and organizations verbally,” he said. “We need to get some design plans on paper and take that to get some official approvals from everybody it'll be flying over. … It's moving forward pretty well.”

Young's proposal calls for the zipline to begin on top of Mount Washington near the Duquesne Incline. Riders would be strapped into a seated harness, and the zipline would travel at speeds of up to 50 mph, dropping more than 400 feet before landing near the Carnegie Science Center and Heinz Field on the North Shore.

It would cost about $30 to ride, Young said.

Young is in contact with ZipRider, a national company that has constructed more than 15 ziplines nationally and internationally, including one at Sno Mountain ski resort in Scranton.

He estimates it will take about $3 million to construct and is attempting to raise $15,000 for initial surveys, design, and permitting.

Awesome Pittsburgh, a local chapter of the national Awesome Foundation, awards $1,000 grants monthly for ideas that would improve the city and its surrounding area. The thoroughness — and boldness — of Young's proposal won him a grant in February.

“The zipline was (a proposal) that was just so out there that nobody else would probably put money into it right now,” said Tony Macklin, one of Awesome Pittsburgh's trustees. “But it would be so cool and so fun if it got pulled off. So there was this sort of audacity with the idea, (combined) with the fact that Adam had done so much thorough research.”

In addition to securing the grant from Awesome Pittsburgh, Young pitched the idea at a public meeting of the Mount Washington Community Development Corp. in January. Executive director Jason Kambitsis said he heard mostly positive feedback from residents about the idea.

Diane Ferguson, who lives in Wilmington, N.C., most of the year but comes up to her residence on Mount Washington about four times a year, said she thinks the zipline would boost Mount Washington's already strong tourist presence.

“I think it sounds fun,” Ferguson said. “I would do it.”

Pittsburgh City Council member Theresa Kail-Smith, whose district includes Mount Washington, said she'd heard good things from some residents about the project. However, she said she needed to hear more from residents on Grandview Avenue, whom the zipline would affect most directly.

“There is a lot of approvals that would be required prior to anything like this occurring,” she said. “And also, for me, it's not just the approvals through the government agencies; it's also the approvals of the residents that have to live with it.”

Young said he is working on securing those approvals and raising money. He hopes the initial enthusiasm he sensed for the proposal will lead to it becoming a reality.

“(I want) to create an incredible experience for anyone who wants to ride it, visitors or Pittsburgh residents alike,” he said. “It's an adventure activity, and it would be a blast.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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