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Scottdale hears trail presentation

| Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

Representatives from the Westmoreland County Planning office this week presented Scottdale council with proposed routes designed to bring the Coal and Coke Trail into the borough's downtown.

The planning office was contacted by the borough about putting together the route proposal and began work on it about six to eight months ago.

Currently, the goal is to give people using the trail a safe way to access Scottdale's downtown, to visit businesses as well as view the historic district there.

Looking into the future, they designed the route with the hopes of one day connecting to the trail in Connellsville, which ultimately gives access to the Great Allegheny Passage.

Daniel Carpenter, with the county planning office, said they met with members of the Coal and Coke Trail, the borough, Upper Tyrone, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Jacobs Creek Watershed Association and the county parks and recreation offices over several months to come up with a plan to extend the Coal and Coke Trail into the borough.

The proposed plan would take bicyclists from the trail head in the borough onto Mt. Pleasant Road toward Broadway, where they would then turn right before making a left onto Edwin Avenue.

Bicyclists would then ride to Loucks Park and turn left on Spring Street, where they will remain until they arrive at Pittsburgh Street. They would then walk their bikes down Pittsburgh Street for a short space before turning right onto Stoner Street and then making the first left onto the unnamed alley that works its way behind the main businesses on Pittsburgh Street.

One block before reaching Broadway, bicyclists would then be directed to turn right onto another unnamed alley and continue on this path until reaching Church Street. From there, they would turn left onto Church Street, crossing over Broadway and ending at Garfield Park.

A route to view the historic homes in the Loucks Avenue area was added to the proposal.

In order to direct bicyclists to the correct route, the proposal calls for sharrows — which are two chevrons and a bicycle — painted on the roadway and / or directional signs erected.

Another suggestion was a message board at the Coal and Coke Trail head, as well as at the end of the proposed route near Garfield Park, which could include information about the borough, upcoming events and even the menus of some borough restaurants.

Bike racks were a suggestion as part of the proposal.

Costs to implement the proposals, including route directional signs or sharrows, the message board and bike racks, varied with a high end of $4,486.40 and a low end of $1,256.88.

But Carpenter said the planning office recommended a middle-ground estimate of $3,366.78.

Councilman Donald Stansak said while this might seem like a small amount of money to do the project, it would really cost a lot more with the need to improve streets along this route.

“I think it's a great idea and hope of all hopes it connects to the Great Allegheny Passage, but we're going to have to invest some considerable amount of money into those streets and alleys,” he said.

Councilman Jim Pallygus said he thinks this is a nice step in the process to try and connect to Connellsville.

“This portion will bring people into the downtown; the next step would be down toward Everson and then eventually on to Connellsville,” he said.

Jeff Richards, a board member with the Coal and Coke Trail, said they asked the county planning office to get them through downtown and they would continue to work on the cross-country rails to trails opportunities.

“The exciting thing is that the bigger picture is realized by doing the doable small chunks,” he said. “They are the springboards to the bigger picture in the future.”

Brian Lawrence, of the county planning office, said there are about four or five options that have been explored to get to Connellsville, but the one preferred would be a rails-to-trails option along the Wheeling and Lake Erie rail line going south to Connellsville.

No action was taken by council Monday night to approve the proposal.

Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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