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Bike trail discussion scheduled in Etna

Tawnya Panizzi
| Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, 2:54 p.m.

Anyone interested in learning more about walking and bike trails along the Allegheny River can attend a meeting Saturday in Etna.

The Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone (ARTEZ) will host a community planning session at 11 a.m. at the Etna Volunteer Fire Hall, 27 Crescent St, Etna.

“ARTEZ is engaged with a number of partners to improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in our communities,” Executive Director Iris Whitworth said. “We plan to construct bike lanes and sharrows (a shared lane for vehicles and bicyclists) for greater bike accessibility in the lower Allegheny River valley.”

The nonprofit ARTEZ was founded to spur economic development and bring quality housing and green space to the Lower Valley.

Riverfront access is a key proponent to revitalization, according to an ARTEZ survey completed by about 200 Sharpsburg and Aspinwall residents earlier this summer.

Aspinwall Manager Melissa Lang said now is the time for residents to get involved, with a preliminary bike trail being presented at the meeting.

“Residents can get involved now to help shape our portion of the route,” Lang said.

Blawnox officials already are discussing where a potential trail could wind through the borough. A $55,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development was secured for engineering and construction next year.

The trail through Blawnox would be just less than one mile long.

Whitworth said the project is meant to create infrastructure that better links the communities for bikers as well as connect riverfronts and parks with business districts and residential areas.

The meeting on Saturday also is sponsored by Bike Pittsburgh and Friends of the Riverfront.

Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront, said a public forum always is beneficial. “It helps any time people can come together in a public meeting to learn more about the economic, ecological and health benefits through the inner-connectivity of communities,” he said.

Lindsey-Rose Allen, interim program and operations assistant for ARTEZ, said plans are in the initial stage.

She said the project would extend the existing Three Rivers Heritage Trail northward and eastward, eventually connecting Pittsburgh to other major cities such as Erie and Harrisburg.

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