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Additional signage recommended along Great Allegheny Passage

| Thursday, June 26, 2014, 4:26 a.m.
Bill Hall of the Mon Yough Trail Council lists cleaning up Boston as the gateway to Elizabeth Township as a priority for trail improvement.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Bill Hall of the Mon Yough Trail Council lists cleaning up Boston as the gateway to Elizabeth Township as a priority for trail improvement.
Trail Towns fellow Courtney Mahronich records suggestions offered during Wednesday's report on trail happenings in McKeesport, Elizabeth Township and Homestead.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Trail Towns fellow Courtney Mahronich records suggestions offered during Wednesday's report on trail happenings in McKeesport, Elizabeth Township and Homestead.

Signs on or around the Great Allegheny Passage are a good thing, whether they are markers, directional signs to the trail or advertisements for local businesses.

The call for more and better signs was a recommendation offered by Trail Town program officials speaking to trail planners from McKeesport, the Boston section of Elizabeth Township and Homestead at a meeting at the Palisades in McKeesport on Wednesday evening.

The three communities are new this year to the Trail Town program, administered by the Progress Fund. The purpose of the meeting was to review results and recommendations contained in a report from assessments of the communities conducted this spring.

Trail Town program manager William Prince presented the findings.

“New signage is in the works,” Prince said, noting that new markers should start appearing along the trail by August. Still, he said, more can be done to make the trail more readable by users.

For McKeesport, in particular, he said there could be more signs leading motorists to the trail.

He said sign clutter is a problem at the five-way intersection at the end of the Boston Bridge, however, where a confrontation with too many signs could be confusing for trail users.

The recommendations extended beyond just that of adding or subtracting signs and informational kiosks at strategic points along the trail.

Safety and ease-of-access at points where trail users enter adjoining business communities were discussed, as was parking.

David Ringler, who has been active with the Mon Yough Trail Council, said trail planners in Boston would like to add more parking under the bridge but would have to get approval from PennDOT and Elizabeth Township.

“There's probably 40 spaces if we did it right,” he said.

Prince said Homestead could improve access from the Waterfront to the Eighth Avenue business district if it added a trail loop or spur that connects the two.

Homestead Councilman Lloyd Cunningham said the trail spur would be the most important step the borough could take as a trail town.

Cunningham said Homestead is installing 20 new bike racks around the community this weekend.

Recommendations for all three communities ranged from things as simple as cleaning up areas along the trail to more difficult challenges like attracting lodging, retail outlets and restaurants.

Trail Town fellow Courtney Mahronich said a community cleanup event is planned for July 15 at 10 a.m. in McKeesport and another such event will be held later in the summer.

Prince said there is much the communities can do to market the trail and suggested Boston and McKeesport develop a Trail Town brochure together, noting the two communities can promote the McKeesport Loop trail and Deadman's Hollow in Lincoln and Liberty as common amenities.

Prince suggested encouraging pop-up events along the trail in McKeesport and considering trailside public arts projects.

“Build your town as a starting or stopping point,” he said.

Robert MacGregor of the Steel Valley Trail Council said his organization has discussed adding road markers to encourage cyclists and motorists to share the road in parts of the Waterfront where trail congestion can be heavy.

Those attending the meeting encouraged the Regional Trail Town Action Team to work on accomplishing the recommendations in the report.

Prince said grant opportunities are available for signs for businesses that participate in the Trail Town program.

He said another joint committee of the local Trail Towns will take place this summer.

Previously, the Trail Town program had been operational only in smaller towns along the trail in the Laurel Mountains and Western Maryland. In addition to the local communities, the program expanded this year to towns along the Erie to Pittsburgh, Montour, and Sheepskin trails and Trans-Allegheny Trail System.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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