Rains carve up Montour Trail

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The fierce storms that flooded the region on Wednesday took their toll on the Montour Trail as well.

Damage ranging from downed trees to rutted or washed-out surfaces was reported across much of the trail, which occupies a 46-mile corridor from Coraopolis to Clairton, board member Ned Williams said.

Volunteers on Thursday began to clear trees and repair the damaged surfaces. Mr. Williams said he hoped the trail would be passable in all areas by today but that users, especially cyclists, should be cautious. Cyclists may have to walk their bikes through some areas, he said.

Preliminary damage reports cited numerous instances of washouts and ruts carved by rushing floodwaters into the crushed limestone surface.

Several washouts were observed in the 12-mile section that begins at mile zero in Coraopolis, including two sections near Cliff Mine Road in North Fayette and Findlay that were inundated by Montour Run and left too rough to ride a bike through.

Severe damage also was reported in northern Washington County near the Quicksilver Road parking lot and mile marker 16 north of McDonald. Trees fell in west Peters, blocking the trail just east of the Greer Tunnel.

Minor damage was reported on trail sections between Jefferson Hills and Clairton.

About 2,000 feet of trail near Triphammer Road in South Park was badly damaged when Piney Fork creek exploded over its banks, including areas where the trail was eroded into its subbase. That damage was being repaired Friday in preparation for a dedication ceremony of 0.8 miles of newly completed trail.

The ceremony will go on as scheduled at 1 p.m. today, Mr. Williams said. U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are among those scheduled to attend.

The new segment, from Triphammer Road to Piney Fork Road, includes a 115-foot truss bridge over Piney Fork. The bridge formerly served as a footbridge at a Monessen steel mill and was refurbished with a wooden deck by volunteers. Emblems of three steel companies are on the bridge.

The ceremony will take place at the new Triphammer Road trailhead near the bridge. Parking is limited and attendees were urged to bike to the site from other trailheads at Piney Fork Road, Brownsville Road Extension and Stewart Road.

The trail organization also is expected to announce plans to renovate the old railroad bridge over Route 88 and complete other missing sections in South Park.

The organization is seeking additional volunteers for what it expects to be a lengthy restoration process, Mr. Williams said. Those wishing to help can get contact info at www.montourtrail.org. The website also has a link on its home page to six "friends" groups that maintain specific sections of the trail.

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Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic.


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