The recent completion of a stretch of the Montour Trail in South Park has trail users walking, running and peddling for joy.
The Montour Trail Council will celebrate the grand opening of a new bridge and 0.8 miles of trail in the township with a ribbon-cutting at 1 p.m. Saturday at the new Triphammer Road trailhead near the bridge. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and township officials will attend.
Trail council president Dennis Pfeiffer will discuss trail improvements, including progress in restoring the nearby Library Viaduct over Route 88.
Parking at the event site is limited, so attendees are encouraged to walk or bike from the other Montour Trail trailheads at Piney Fork Road, Brownsville Road Extension and Stewart Road.
The new segment along Piney Fork Creek, from Triphammer Road to Piney Fork Road, includes a 115-foot truss bridge over the Piney Fork stream.
Originally built in 1920, the structure was used as a footbridge for workers at a Monessen steel mill before being acquired in 2003 by the trail council for $20,000. The bridge was refurbished and finished with a wooden deck by volunteers. Emblems from three steel companies are visible.
Major funding for the project came from Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Allegheny Regional Asset District, in addition to grants from the Laurel Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Trail Volunteer Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation and private donations.
To date, Mr. Pfeiffer, of Moon, said approximately 45 of the 47 miles of the main line of the Montour Trail have been completed with only three or four short gaps remaining. Of these gaps, he said this one was the hardest to complete because of a 25- to 30-foot grade workers had to navigate to connect the trail.
Council member Dave Oyler of South Park oversaw the project and said this was one of a few major construction projects that they faced in addition to the lengthy process of securing the necessary rights-of-way from private property owners.
Equally challenging, he said, was the installation of the bridge, which took longer than expected due to a lack of funding. The abutments were in place by November 2008, but the bridge wasn't installed until March 2010.
"There was a little bit of faith there that we would eventually get everything ready," Mr. Oyler said.
Despite the many obstacles, the project finally came to fruition and the trail was opened for public use on May 4. Since then, Mr. Oyler said a lot of people have been using it.
"It seems like a dream," he said. "It's really hard to finally realize that it's complete and that you can go down there and walk on it now. It's been so long in the making."
Details: www.montourtrail.org or call 412-257-3011.neigh_south
Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: email@example.com.