Montour Trail extension will benefit cyclists, walkers, businesses

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Extension of the Montour Trail into Coraopolis will benefit cyclists, walkers and the business community, Dennis Pfeiffer said.

“Very few towns along the trail have as many amenities, including a bike shop, restaurants and other businesses,” Mr. Pfeiffer, president of the Montour Trail Council, said of Coraopolis this week.

Riders and hikers will have easier access both to Coraopolis and to the Port Authority’s light-rail station in South Park when two state-aided trail extensions are completed.

Grants totaling $556,300 for the projects were announced last week. The money will come from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program operated by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Both of the projects will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Montour Trail Council, an all-volunteer organization, will get $313,300 in state funds. It will use that money to build about 0.8 mile of new trail from the current “Mile 0” marker in Moon to Montour Street in Coraopolis.

The route of the trail extension will pass through Allegheny County’s 78-acre Montour Run recreation area and under the Neville Island Bridge. The county park site, a former rail yard near the banks of the Ohio River, is being developed with rugby, soccer and lacrosse fields.

South Park will receive $243,000 to extend the Montour Trail about 900 feet from the east end of the Library Viaduct to Pleasant Street.

When that part of the project is completed, trail users looking to hitch a ride back into Pittsburgh will be able to reach the Library light-rail stop without having to ride along busy Route 88.

The old railroad bridge also is scheduled for a $2.1 million rehabilitation in 2014. The Montour Trail follows the route of the Montour Railroad. The 506-foot-long viaduct, which carried train tracks over Route 88, is the last remaining major railroad structure to be repurposed for trail use.

State Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, said the projects will improve the quality of life and provide economic benefits for nearby communities. Mr. Smith’s district includes South Park Township. “In less than 25 years, the Montour Trail Council has provided over 44 miles of safe, accessible and well-maintained trail – all through the efforts of volunteers,” he said in a statement. “This is an ideal public-private partnership and I am pleased to support this regional asset.”

State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana, D-Brookline, praised the public-private cooperation that will convert a former industrial brownfields site into an environmentally friendly greenway. Mr. Fontana’s legislative district includes Coraopolis.

The extension of the biking-hiking trail to Coraopolis also opens the way for links to other trails planned along the Ohio River all the way to the Ohio border and beyond.

The South Park project represents part of the effort to provide access via the Montour Trail with the Great Allegheny Passage. That trail provides a car-free, dedicated route linking Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

Len Barcousky: or 724-772-0184.

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