Support strong for recreational trail through Brackenridge
Support was strong Thursday night for the proposed Three Rivers Heritage Trail’s plans to pass through the Brackenridge riverfront.
About 25 people attended the informational meeting in Brackenridge Council’s chambers. The Heritage Trail would run from Millvale to Freeport, where it would hook up with several other recreational trails.
While no one who spoke opposed the project, several residents aired a number of concerns.
The proposed half-mile section through Brackenridge’s First Avenue would start near Cherry Street and finish at Mile Lock Lane at the ATI steel mill.
The first section along First Avenue, from Cherry Street through Morgan Street, appears simple enough, with the 8- to 10-foot-wide trail for bicycles and pedestrians running through the adjacent Brackenridge Memorial Park.
But the borough’s pump station at the corner of First Avenue and Morgan Street presents difficulty.
The proposal by project manager Brian Krul of TranSystems would have trail users cross First Avenue, cross Morgan, then cross back to First again to resume the trail.
“We are a safety-first group for residents and bicyclists,” Krul said. “Our job is to put the set of plans together.”
Resident Rick Jones suggested filling in a part of the Allegheny River that juts in sharply for a short distance, formerly used as an intake area for the Brackenridge water service. The water system has a pipe extending out into the Allegheny River and no longer uses the intake area.
A small footbridge was also suggested, but Krul said that would be more expensive.
Resident Randy Negley said he supports the trail, but is concerned that customers for his wife’s beauty salon wouldn’t have any place to park if available spaces are used by trail enthusiasts.
Brackenridge Council President Timothy Connelly said the borough owns that land and could make a decision on the trail route.
Another difficult section is between the pump station to Mile Lock Lane, where land between First Avenue and the steep riverbank is narrow.
Several residents asked if a fence could be installed to prevent a child from falling down toward the river. Different types of fencing material is available, but residents who spoke were against the idea of a chain-link fence to block the view of the river.
Trail planners suggested hedges or shrubbery, with periodic openings so residents can go to the river to fish.
Bicyclist Joe Glaister said he often uses the Butler-Freeport trail where there is a 75-foot drop-off in some places.
“I’ve not heard of anybody being hurt,” Glaister said. “I see adults and children using the trail constantly.”
Courtney Mahronich-Vita, director of trail development for Friends of the Riverfront, couldn’t estimate how many people would use the trail but pointed out the Allegheny Passage Trail from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., attracts about a million users annually.
Plans could be completed by this summer.
“This is a big community asset,” Krul said. “This is your trail. It’s going to be a great thing for the community.”
Brackenridge Council members were present and no vote was taken, though all council members verbally supported the project.
George Guido is a freelance writer.
George Guido is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.