Library Viaduct gets new mission
A long-abandoned railroad bridge over Route 88 soon will carry a different kind of traffic, as the Montour Trail Council prepares a $2.5 million rehab and conversion of the Library Viaduct in South Park.
Trail officials will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking on Sunday for the rail-to-trail conversion, which will connect to a separate trail extension project to close a gap in the 47-mile route west and south of Pittsburgh and bring walkers, bikers and hikers to Port Authority's Library light rail station, said the council's president, Dennis Pfieffer. Construction is expected to start in July and be completed by April.
“Right now, you have to get off (the trail) at the Lindenbrooke apartment trail and ride down to Route 88, which has very little shoulder to ride on — a foot or two at most in the southbound direction,” said Paul McKeown, one of the project managers and a frequent cyclist on the trail.
About $1 million of the project's total funding came from donations and other private sources, and the rest came from a $1.5 million federal grant PennDOT is administering, Pfieffer said.
Starting in 2012, the trail council's engineers evaluated the 500-foot-long viaduct, which passes over Route 88, Piney Fork and Port Authority's Library Line, and determined it was structurally sound. Bridgeville-based WEC Engineers designed the steel supports and modifications needed to convert the railroad bridge, abandoned for the last 40 years, into a bike- and pedestrian-friendly trail.
“Even though the thing is almost 100 years old, it was originally designed for much heavier loads than what it will carry,” said Tom Prezel, the other project manager for the trail council.
At most, the bridge will have to carry emergency vehicles heading down the trail, compared to the fully loaded coal trains and diesel engines the Montour Railroad once ran.
The contractor will remove the remaining rails and wooden ties, replace a few steel supports that have rusted, pour a new deck for the bridge and install handrails and fencing.
Crews also will thin out one of the bridge supports along Route 88, since the bridge won't need as much weight capacity, and the current concrete abutment reduces visibility for traffic turning out of the nearby apartment complex.
The concrete deck will include a pair of observation platforms cantilevered over Piney Fork so trail users can rest and enjoy nature, Prezel said. From above, the opposing triangular platforms will resemble the Montour Trail's diamond-shaped logo.
Once the viaduct construction is done, Pfieffer said, a $243,000 state grant will help turn the contractors' access route from Pleasant Street into a 950-foot extension of the trail, so users can cross the viaduct, continue down the trail and end just a few hundred feet from the Park-and-Ride lot for the Library light rail station, Port Authority's southernmost stop.
He hopes the combination of trail and light rail will encourage people to use more of both, either by bringing a bike on the train then riding the trail, or biking to the station and riding the train into Pittsburgh.
“This will be a big boon to multi-modal transportation,” Pfieffer said. “We'd like to work with Port Authority to expand bike parking there.”
The groundbreaking ceremony will be 2 p.m. Sunday at the viaduct, near the Rite Aid on Route 88. Volunteers will direct attendees to open parking.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or email@example.com.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- More witness intimidation charges filed against Plum teacher
- American Airlines manager arrested in Pittsburgh on sex crimes charges
- Human-waste fertilizer aids farmers, worries some Ohio residents
- 5 teens injured in East Liberty crash while eluding police
- State trooper released after Ohio Township crash
- Tribune-Review columnist Heyl honored nationally
- Nurse, family partnerships aim to stop black infant deaths in Pittsburgh
- Pension costs burden region’s school districts
- In a first, City of Pittsburgh offers free swim lessons
- Dermatology worker gets public sunscreen dispenser installed at Mt. Lebanon park
- Black students more harshly punished in Pittsburgh, official acknowledges