North Park trail on Ingomar Road to see upgrade

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North Park’s lake trail, used by hikers, bikers and walkers, will get a safety overhaul this summer when the two-mile section of Ingomar Road that runs through the park is widened.

Ron Schipani, acting director of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation, unveiled plans to double the width of the road at a public meeting Dec.10 in the park’s Rose Barn.

McCandless Manager Tobias Cordek said the North Park Lake area master plan has been in the works for two years

“This looks like a very practical solution to the mix of pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular use of Ingomar Road through North Park,” he said of the proposed project.

A collaborative effort of Allegheny County, Allegheny County Parks Foundation, GAI Consultants and PennDOT, plans for improvements to the trail began to take shape when county officials realized the state-owned road was due for paving this summer.

Funding for the $2 million project will be split among the parties, with PennDOT paying half through the state’s recent $3.24 billion transportation bill.

“It was like there was a planetary alignment going on,” Mr. Schipiani said.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who made an appearance in the middle of the meeting, said the project will address safety concerns in a dangerous section of the trail. Park supporters said they were pleased with the proposal.

“I think it makes sense,” said Gary Rigdon, chairman of the Friends of North Park, a citizens’ support and advocacy group. “I’m really pleased and amazed that they were able to do this in only two years.”

Mr. Schipiani said widening Ingomar Road through the park has been on the county’s wish list for at least two decades.

“The existing lane configuration is too thin for safe use of pedestrians and bicycles,” he said. The new 12-foot-wide trail will be lined for bikes and for pedestrians, and a line will separate traffic from the trail.

Bidding on the project will begin in February and construction is expected to take about two months. Ingomar Road may have to be closed during construction, which also will involve moving a 100-year-old water line. Mr. Schipiani said the water line work also will enable the county to upgrade water fountains and hydrants.

This section of the trail will be closed during construction.

“It’s a long-term gain for a short-term inconvenience,” said Andy Baechle, director of Allegheny County's Department of Parks.

Bill Moul, North Area Environmental Council President, said the inconveniences will be worth it.

“Ingomar Road is a twenty-year problem that will finally get solved,” he said.

Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer:

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