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Portion of Eliza Furnace rail trail to reopen

Bob Bauder
| Monday, Oct. 3, 2011

A detour will be lifted today on the Eliza Furnace rail trail, ending a 13-month, $5.2 million project to raise a problem railroad overpass over Bates Street in Hazelwood and widen the heavily traveled Bates Street approach to Second Avenue.

Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said it will mark the third major infrastructure improvement completed by the city in the past year. The others have been street and lighting improvements at Fifth Avenue and Market Street, Downtown, and Penn Avenue in East Liberty near a new Target.

"This is a very big deal for the city. Thousands of commuters use that route every day," Doven said. "The mayor worked with the Federal Highway Commission and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to get this project off the ground and leverage this money."

Part of the 22-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail that runs along Pittsburgh's riverfronts, the Eliza Trail begins Downtown and continues for about five miles to Hazelwood. Thomas Baxter, executive director of the nonprofit river advocacy group Friends of the Riverfront, said the trail was part of the defunct Baltimore and Ohio Railroad lines that once serviced Western Pennsylvania.

The trail remained open during construction, which began in August 2010 but was detoured along Second Avenue around the old B&O rail bridge.

The main focus of the project was raising the bridge, which had been a pinch point for trucks traveling Bates Street, one of the main access points into Oakland. The bridge was rebuilt, and Bates Street was widened from three lanes to five. Work also included landscaping around the bridge and an interpretive sign, explaining the historical significance of the B&O Railroad.

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