ShareThis Page

Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone gets $250K grant to link Etna, trail

| Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Etna, the Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone and other organizations are partnering to develop riverfront access through the Etna Riverfront Park project.

ARTEZ recently was awarded a $250,000 state grant to help connect Etna to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and establish safer pedestrian and bicycle access with the borough's neighboring river towns.

The money is from the state's Multimodal Transportation Fund, which “provides grants to encourage economic development, and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to residents of the commonwealth,” said Heidi Havens, spokeswoman for the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

The Etna Riverfront Park project will transform about 1.5 acres of brownfield into a park site, about 25 feet above the Allegheny River's edge, next to the 62nd Street Bridge. Preliminary site work could start in spring 2015.

Friends of the Riverfront purchased the property three years ago for an extension of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and develop a park for Etna. At the time, there was an agreement that Etna would take ownership of the property.

The borough has been working with ARTEZ, the project's coordinator, as well as Friends of the Riverfront, Allegheny County officials and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council to make a park-trail connection in the area.

ARTEZ's main goal is to provide the region and its seven member communities — Millvale, Shaler, Etna, Sharpsburg, Aspinwall, Blawnox and O'Hara — with direct access to the riverfront. That's something that most of post-industrial urban areas in Western Pennsylvania have lacked, said Iris Whitworth, executive director of ARTEZ.

The park is considered a crucial link in development of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which is Pittsburgh's hub for trail system connections to routes such as the Great Allegheny Passage, the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail, the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway and a planned connection to the Montour Trail.

“Etna's riverfront park is a stepping stone for building the Three Rivers Heritage Trail connection back downstream to the current terminus at Millvale, as well as upstream to Sharpsburg and beyond,” Whitworth said. “We are working with coordinating partners to negotiate the trail connection between Millvale and Etna through Shaler Township.”

Whitworth said the section will be challenging because of points where the rail lines and the river run close together.

“This section is a not a quick, easy, or inexpensive build, but we recognize it's a critical one,” she said.

Extending the Three Rivers Heritage Trail up the Allegheny River is part of regional, statewide and national initiatives.

“We currently have $525,000 secured and are around 50 percent funded,” Whitworth said.

Chasity Capasso is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.

click me