Trail set to expand as warm weather nears

Photo by Miranda Costa | DSTV. Clear skies overlook the South Side segment of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. A one-mile extension that will run through Aspinwall is coming soon.

Photo by Miranda Costa | DSTV. Clear skies overlook the South Side segment of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. A one-mile extension that will run through Aspinwall is coming soon.

By Brittney Jackson | The Duquesne Duke

The Three Rivers Heritage Trail continues to grow along Pittsburgh’s riverfronts and will be setting a date to unveil its latest extension this month.

The trail, a project supervised by non-profit organization Friends of the Riverfront, is currently 24 miles long, but the new extension will add another mile to the trail.

The non-profit recently obtained a license agreement from the city and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority while securing funding to build the trail’s extension, FOR director Thomas Baxter said. Before building can begin, FOR must obtain bids from different construction firms, which it aims to do this month.

Baxter said once FOR receives the bids, the organization will know when construction will begin.

This extension of the trail is unique because it travels through PWSA land. The trail will also have access to the Aspinwall Riverfront Park, which is currently under construction, according to Baxter.

PWSA spokeswoman Melissa Rubin said the extension of the trail “was a great partnership and learning experience.”

“The project gave us a wonderful opportunity to work with the community, reassess our security and engage the community so that they could learn about this project and we could learn about their needs,” Rubin said.

There will be limited access to PWSA land that is currently open to the public for joggers, Rubin said. There will be fencing and security cameras in place to restrict further access to the water treatment facilities.

Baxter said that the access to PWSA is currently part of the water treatment facility’s driveway.

Rubin said PWSA looks forward to the trail’s opening and wants to work with the community on future collaborations.

According to Baxter, planning for the latest extension began in 2010 by the communities of Pittsburgh, Aspinwall and O’Hara. Baxter said the cost of the project will be between $300,000 and $400,000. The two largest funding contributors are the Laurel Foundation and Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

Baxter said a date for the grand opening will be determined once construction is complete. The public can check the status of the trail’s completion on the organization’s website.

Timothy McNulty, spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto, said the mayor is “all in favor of the trail.”

McNulty said Peduto met with President Barack Obama in December 2013 and asked for the scaffolding used to refurbish the Washington Monument, which will be used to build a monument along the Ohio riverfront near the end of the trail.

“We love trails and the city has a commitment to build more trails and bike trails,” McNulty said.

Baxter said FOR envisions expanding the existing trail by another 50 miles. Planning and development are already underway.

“I’m excited by every mile and every foot that we can create for public access,” Baxter said.

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