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Projects planned on Mt. Pleasant-area hike/bike trail

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Marissa Rega of Mt. Pleasant (right) jogs recently alongside her bicycle-riding daughter Olivia, 8, near the Willows Park portion of the Coal and Coke Trail in the borough.
Robert Levin, president of Levin Furniture Co., (left) presents Mt. Pleasant Township's Robert Keeler, secretary of the Coal and Coke Trail Committee, with a check in support of the committee's 2013 Comedy Night fundraiser, for which proceeds were dedicated to the upkeep and growth of the passage between Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale boroughs. Photo taken in November 2013

As spring emerges, bikers and hikers once again will take to traversing the Coal and Coke Trail, a scenic, 6-mile passage connecting Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale boroughs.

A number of projects will take place this summer with an interest in enhancing the trail in ways trail advocates hope will make it more appealing to its current users and more attractive to potential newcomers.

We have a couple of projects we're working on this year,” said Robert A. Keeler, co-founder and current secretary of the Coal & Coke Trail Chapter.

Formed in 2000, the chapter is a volunteer organization and is associated with the Regional Trail Corporation, a nonprofit entity that promotes the conversion of right of ways into trails in Westmoreland, Allegheny and Fayette counties, according to the Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation website.

One ongoing project includes extending the trail from its current segment in Kendi Park farther into the borough, Keeler said.

To do that, work is being done at the Scottdale trailhead by chapter members and Upper Tyrone Township officials, he said.

“We're hoping to see that completed this summer,” Keeler added.

In addition, developers aim to complete a spur of the trail that would serve as a connector route to give riders and hikers access to West Overton Village & Museums, he said.

“A majority of that work has already been done,” Keeler said.

The person responsible for that project is Maynard Brubacher, master contractor of Brubacher Enterprises of Scottdale, who resides directly across state Route 819 from the West Overton property.

“Maynard has been working on (the spur) for years. It goes right off the edge of his property, down an old right of way owned by West Overton toward Mildred Street,” Keeler said.

Brubacher said he hopes to have the spur completed by summer's end.

“I just showed the trail to someone recently, and they're excited to see where it is,” he said. “It's coming along.”

Ultimately, the chapter would like to establish a trailhead parking area for trail users at the end of the passage near Overholt Drive.

Such a move would offer access to the museums and the village-like setting there, which served as the birthplace of Henry Clay Frick in the mid-19th century.

“With trailhead parking, people can put their bikes on their cars and drive over to the village,” Brubacher said. “We have space here where we could park 10 cars right now.”

Eventually, the chapter also hopes to work with Mt. Pleasant officials to establish an access route from the trailhead near Shop Demo Depot to the main part of the borough, Keeler said.

Keeler has presented an idea for such a link which would limit the amount of uphill riding/hiking for users, and the amount of exposure to busy traffic, he said.

“There have been some really good developments lately all around us; in Latrobe there are now bike trails through the city,” he said.

Latrobe City Manager Alex Graziani said city officials are working to create a network of bike lanes along the streets through the city that make the most sense.

“You see that going on in Pittsburgh; we want to do the same kind of thing here,” he said.

On May 5, Latrobe will serve as the host of a workshop Westmoreland County officials will hold on the possible formation of a countywide pedestrian-bicycle committee.

Keeler said fellow chapter member Barry Whoric, who is the former borough manager of Scottdale, along with Mt. Pleasant Borough councilmen Jack Caruso, Jim Wojnar and Paul Wagner are planning to attend.

“It's to see how what they have done in Latrobe and elsewhere might contribute to our ideas for a similar project in Mt. Pleasant,” Keeler said.

In other developments, Keeler said, the trail chapter has:

• Purchased a trail groomer to resurface the trail annually by tractor;

• Worked with East Huntingdon Township supervisors, who are grading the edge of trail and installing drainage piping to correct an area where the trail washes out during heavy rains

• Worked with Mt. Pleasant Township officials to complete resurfacing work to avoid trail washouts there, also during times of heavy rain.

“Last year, there were three major rains which hit the trail between Willows Park and Bridgeport; it led to a washout for about 100 yards,” Keeler said. “We hope to complete that this spring.”

Keeler stressed that, no matter how far the trail has come since its founding in 2000, more support is always being sought toward its continued evolution.

“Sometimes, when a facility, like a bike trail, is established for awhile, people become complacent ... like ‘It's just there now,'” he said. “But it's a dynamic resource ... and it requires attention.”

Robert Levin, president of Levin Furniture Co., is one who provides ongoing support for the trail chapter's efforts, Keeler said.

For the past several years, Levin has sponsored the chapter's Comedy Night fundraiser held each November, he said.

“The Levins have been so good to us,” Keeler said.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or

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