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Bike trail connections ongoing between Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier
Kacey Tuls of Bullskin Township and her son Seth take advantage of some warmer temperatures to go for a walk on the Coal and Coke Trail.
Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier
Work continues on the Coal and Coke Trail.

The Coal and Coke Recreation Trail that runs between Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale boroughs has begun seeing an increase in users, especially with the sunshine and warmer temperatures.

Members of the trail committee have been busy in the offseason planning and completing several projects to better the trail, including completion of the extension from the Willows Park area in Mt. Pleasant to the borough's Main Street (Route 31).

Bob Keeler, trail committee secretary, said they actually finished that particular project last fall.

“Bringing the trail on out to Main Street was always a goal of ours,” he said. “It was hard for people to find Willows Park to access the trail and it's always been our intention to have a visible, accessible trail head on Main Street.”

Previous owners of the property needed to extend the trail to Main Street would not agree to provide right-of-way to the trail committee.

“But the new owners (Demo Depot) have been wonderful and so accommodating,” Keeler said. “They've been helping us in many different ways.”

The committee is in the process of erecting a fence on the Willows Park side of the trail parallel to the bigger soccer field in that area.

Keeler said they are hoping to prevent children, who are often in the park, from running onto the trail and getting hit by a biker.

The trail along Jacobs Creek ended before getting to Mt. Pleasant Road in Scottdale. Bikers must ride a short distance on Mildred Street, past Raygor's auto repair garage, before coming to a four-way stop. They then must cross the intersection and continue down Mt. Pleasant Road to the entrance of the Jacobs Creek Walking Trail constructed by Scottdale Borough.

There is a project under way that extends the Jacobs Creek Walking Trail along a right-of-way behind Henderson's auto salvage, so riders can bypass riding down Mt. Pleasant Road to get to Jacobs Creek Walking Trail.

Keeler said Mt. Pleasant Road is a low visibility road in some places and is traveled a lot by vehicles. It's the safety issues that have kept the trail committee working to bypass bike riding along that stretch of roadway. This project should be complete soon.

Upper Tyrone has secured funds to extend the Jacobs Creek Walking Trail further into the township.

“The money's in place and the agreement has been signed, but I'm not sure what the status is on that project at this point,” said Keeler, who added that the proposed trail is planned to run behind MLP Steel (formerly Marwas).

At this point, Keeler said one of his goals for the committee is to establish a similar trail head in Scottdale that was just constructed in Mt. Pleasant.

“I want to establish bike routes through the towns so bikers can ride from one town to another and easily get off the trail to visit or shop in that community,” Keeler said.

At one point, an On to Connellsville committee was formed to study extending the trail into Connellsville, where it would somehow connect to the Youghiogheny River Trail.

Robert Ferguson has been working on that idea for about 10 years and in recent years, has focused on possibly utilizing the Everson Valley / Moyer train route.

“Gaining all of the property and easements that needed to be obtained was hard, but the biggest challenge was figuring out a way of getting across the natural waterways,” said Ferguson, adding that is almost insurmountable. “The railroad gave us a lot of hoops to jump through and so we kind of got stymied on that project.”

The On to Connellsville committee has discovered a possible route from Broadford to Scottdale, though, which involves some rights-of-way owned by the Westmoreland / Fayette Municipal Sewage Authority and other private individuals. The key is the abandoned Pennsylvania Rail line in that area, though.

Ferguson said nothing is definite at this point, but they are trying to work out the logistics on the possible new route right now.

Keeler said people assume that because the trail there right now has been finished, that nothing else is going on, but the committee is always working on new projects, even as small as just keeping the current trail maintained and passable for users.

“We could really use some help with getting more volunteers and trail monitors to make sure there are no issues with maintenance or safety along the trail,” he said.

Keeler is hoping that regular users of the trail will call 724-547-3121 to report any problems or concerns.

He added that the committee is comprised of a very small group of volunteers and always looking for individuals who want to contribute in some way, including fundraisers.

The committee meets the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Village Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant. Anyone interested in volunteering with the group is welcome to attend.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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