McKeesport makes its trails priority project
McKeesport has made connecting its trail system a priority projects as regional crews work toward a June target date for unimpeded travel of the Great Allegheny Passage.
While a regional focus is on the June 15 ribbon-cutting ceremony that will celebrate opening the last leg of the Steel Valley Trail in West Homestead, McKeesport wants its trail to accommodate cyclists within the same time frame.
Connecting the trail that runs along the Marina at McKees Point to the trail that runs behind RIDC Riverplace Industrial Center of McKeesport and over Riverton Bridge to cross the Monongahela River into Duquesne was a hot topic last summer when the Regional Trail Corp. secured a $100,000 Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund grant and supplemental funding. Those funds were redirected to the city for work to be completed this year.
“Our public works department is focused on the completion of the trail in order to accommodate the summer season,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “The Great Allegheny Passage has a goal to be complete in June, and we're doing our part to make that happen.”
McKeesport's public works department paved a portion of Water Street last week and began grading what's known as the memorial lot on Wednesday. The parking area sits between Water Street and Memorial Park. Paving will begin in coming days, and memorial lot leaseholders are asked to park in the marina lot or Sixth Avenue garage during construction.
The plan is to extend the trail roughly 3,000 feet from the marina through the memorial lot and along Fourth Avenue behind the public safety building and The Daily News to Locust Street, explained Jim Garvin of Garvin Engineering and Municipal Management.
Within the memorial lot, two trail lanes will be available with a 2-foot buffer on each side, totaling 16 feet of trail space along the lot's entire length. The area was cleared of shrubs and curbs last year to make room for planned trail access.
“The trail that goes through the lot will be raised to differentiate it from the parking area,” Garvin said. “It will be painted and striped so that cars don't drive on it.”
While the regional deadline is June 15, Garvin said McKeesport's project should be done by mid- to late May.
“I'm glad we're getting started on this,” assistant public works director Steve Kondrosky said. “We started late due to the extended winter, but we have a deadline to meet. We're going to stay on it until it's done.”
Wednesday also brought good news to the McKeesport Trail Commission in terms of trail-side accommodations.
Members of the Duquesne/West Mifflin Rotary Club toured the local trail system on Wednesday and donated $2,000 to the group's effort to convert a former Water Street concession stand into a hostel for cyclists.
“The bike trail is heavily used, and riders are looking for a place to stop, shower and use the rest room. Some people would like a place to stay overnight,” McKeesport Trail Commission president Linda Brewster said. “We want to make this a safe place where they can take refuge.”
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.