The Riverlife organization on Thursday announced a public fundraising campaign to raise the final $4,454 needed to build a switchback ramp connecting the Smithfield Street Bridge with the trail that crosses the Monongahela Wharf toward Point State Park.
The amount represents the 4,454-foot distance from the bridge to the fountain in Point State Park. The organization said it has raised nearly all of the $3 million needed to build the ramp.
Completion of the ramp and a connector between the wharf and the park would provide a nonmotorized link to the recently completed Great Allegheny Passage trail, which goes from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md.
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources recently announced a $2 million grant to complete the wharf-park connector.
Riverlife is conducting the symbolic community fundraising campaign via project fundraising website IndieGoGo, which includes a video by local animator Scott Benson illustrating the switchback concept. The campaign seeks to raise the community funds in two months, after which construction bids will be solicited.
The video can be viewed and donations made at IGG.me/at/switchback and RiverlifePgh.org.
"The Mon Wharf switchback is what we like to call a 'shovel-ready' project," said Riverlife president and CEO Lisa Schroeder in a statement. "Top-notch design, complex engineering and permitting have all been completed, and now is the time for the Pittsburgh community to take the switchback to the finish line and make it a reality."
The switchback ramp will be constructed with an open-grate walkway designed to minimize disturbance of the aquatic habitat below and eliminate the need for snow removal and salting during the winter.
Riverlife spokesman Stephan Bontrager said construction could begin next spring.
-- Jon Schmitz
First Published June 27, 2013 4:00 PM