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Nonprofit says less than $5K to raise for critical bike trail link to Point State Park

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 4:51 p.m.

Golden Triangle Bike Rental doesn't offer many guided group bike tours to Point State Park because of the hazards of traveling on busy Fort Pitt Boulevard and Boulevard of the Allies, the major thoroughfares leading to the park.

A continuous trail doesn't exist to connect the park with other bike trails throughout Pittsburgh.

“That one little section is putting a roadblock in,” said Tom Demagall, owner of Golden Triangle Bike Rental on First Avenue. “It's a vital connection that allows you to get from one end of the city to another without ever leaving the bike trails.”

Demagall's bike shop would be able to guide bike riders to the end of the Great Allegheny Passage if nonprofit Riverlife Pittsburgh can meet a $4,454 fundraising goal announced on Thursday.

The group wants to build a $3 million switchback ramp that would connect the Smithfield Street Bridge, linking the South Side and Downtown to the Monongahela Wharf, which leads to Point State Park.

Riverlife raised nearly all of the money it needs through private and corporate donations over three years, spokesman Stephan Bontrager said.

The organization set its final fundraising goal at $4,454 to represent the number of feet between the bridge and the park, known for its newly restored 150-foot-tall fountain.

Contributors have pledged more than $2,000 online.

When Riverlife reaches its goal, it can start the construction process. The deadline for fundraising is Aug. 26.

“This is a shovel-ready project,” Bontrager said. “It's been designed, undergone engineering, permitting has been completed. As soon as we get total funding ready, we'll move into construction bidding.”

The switchback ramp could be complete by next spring, he said.

In late May, crews completed the final segment of the Great Allegheny Passage in West Homestead. The 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage links to the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath in Maryland. Together, the trails form a roughly 334.5 motorized vehicle-free path between Pittsburgh and Washington.

“It'll be great for everybody” when the ramp to the Mon Wharf is completed, Demagall said.

Christina Gallagher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5637 or cgallagher@tribweb.com.

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