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Proposed trail route meets mixed reaction from Shaler officials

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Cars pass each other at the bottom of Seavey Road, in Millvale. The road is part of Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone’s proposed shared lane bike route to connect the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Millvale and Etna.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Cars pass each other at the bottom of Seavey Road, in Millvale. The road is part of Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone’s proposed shared lane bike route to connect the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Millvale and Etna.
A car comes down Seavey Road’s hill into Millvale near Mt. Alvernia. The road is part of Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone’s proposed shared lane bike route to connect the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Millvale and Etna.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
A car comes down Seavey Road’s hill into Millvale near Mt. Alvernia. The road is part of Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone’s proposed shared lane bike route to connect the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Millvale and Etna.
Cars pass each other on Parker Street near the crest of the hill, in Shaler Township. The road is part of Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone’s proposed shared lane bike route to connect the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Millvale and Etna.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Cars pass each other on Parker Street near the crest of the hill, in Shaler Township. The road is part of Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone’s proposed shared lane bike route to connect the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Millvale and Etna.

Shaler Township officials have many concerns about a proposed plan to create a shared-lane bike route along Seavey Road and Parker Street to connect the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Millvale and Etna.

Officials of the Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone, or ARTEZ, proposed the “sharrow,” a vehicular road with shared lane markings to make drivers aware bicyclists use the route, from Evergreen Avenue, in Millvale, along Seavey Road and Parker Street in Shaler to Washington Street in Etna.

The proposal is a solution to close a gap in the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Shaler Township because of difficulty negotiating with Norfolk Southern Railroad.

“This is an interim strategy for us,” said Iris Whitworth, executive director of ARTEZ.

“We want to continue to work with Millvale, Shaler and Etna to get the trail through.”

According to Whitworth, a permanent solution would involve obtaining permission to use the land between the railroad and the river and creating a pier out over the water at “pinch points” in the trail where there is not enough land. The project is estimated to cost $2 million to $5 million and is in ARTEZ's five- to 10-year strategy.

While the Shaler Township commissioners expressed support for extending the trail, many also raised concerns about the proposed route.

Parks and Recreation Committee members tabled discussion until September's committee meeting to collect more information.

“Hundreds of cars travel on Seavey, and buses, and I see pedestrians having to move off the road,” township Commissioner Edward Duss said. “It's a very narrow road and heavily traveled road. Seavey would not be the place for something like this.”

ARTEZ officials said they proposed Seavey Road and Parker Street because they have wider berms.

Many commissioners also expressed concern about bicyclists or families who are unfamiliar with the steep incline of Seavey Road and Parker Street following a route they might not be physically able to complete.

“Admittedly, it's not an ideal route, and if we mark it, you end up with people unwittingly on a dangerous route,” said Bill Cross, vice president of the Board of Commissioners.

“I don't want someone getting killed on this route.”

ARTEZ, is a community economic-development agency that serves seven riverfront communities to promote development and projects along the riverfront to make the communities more desirable places to live, work and play, according to its mission.

ARTEZ serves Aspinwall, Blawnox, Etna, Millvale, O'Hara, Shaler and Sharpsburg.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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