Another one up!"
You could hear the excitement in Ned Williams' voice as he confirmed that a 98-foot bridge over Brush Run Creek had been lifted into place on the Arrowhead Trail in western Peters Township in Washington County.
Known as Valley Brook Bridge No. 1, it's at the western end of the trail, just west of Route 19 and Valley Brook Road. The span arrived at the site in two 50-foot sections May 15.
Gregori Construction and Engineering off-loaded the sections, lowered them to a Peters Township Sanitary Authority lot, bolted them together, and then lifted the assembled bridge on to abutments completed last month.
Williams, immediate past president of the Montour Trail Council, said the bridge is one of two that will be used to complete a 700-foot gap in the trail. Council president Dennis Pfeiffer drove me to the site last month from the grand opening of the Tandem Connection, the 9 a.m.-to-dusk, full-service bike shop with a cafe component.
The former coal company store at 5 Georgetown Road in Hendersonville, just off the Southpointe exit of Interstate 79, is the beneficiary of the council's most recent completion of bridges that carry the Montour Trail over Georgetown and Morganza roads.
Council board member Mark Imgrund, project manager for the Valley Brook bridges, said they will eliminate a 250-yard bypass bicyclists now must take on busy narrow public roads with minimal to no berms and limited sight distances. Imgrund also said the second bridge, "depending on the timing of some funding and final design outcomes," could be completed by spring 2015. He said more than 180 hours of volunteer work has been spent clearing about 700 feet of the old railroad between the bridges.
"Hundreds more volunteer hours will be spent this summer and early fall completing the first phase [of the project]," Imgrund said. He said potential volunteers can contact him at email@example.com.
As the Montour Trail Council's new government envoy, Williams will be its official representative and spokesman to the Southwest Planning Commission, the Washington County commissioners, Allegheny County executives, the state's U. S. senators, its congressional delegation and state senators and representatives whose districts include the Montour Trail corridor.
Earlier this year, Williams and Pfeiffer met with Washington County commissioners Larry Maggi, Diana Irey Vaughn and Harlan Shober to give them "a high-level update" of the trail's progress in that county.
When completed, the Montour Trail will extend 46 miles from Moon Township near Coraopolis to Clairton. Multiple segments of the trail totaling more than 40 miles have been completed. Gaps remain in its southern portion, including those that are part of the Valley Brook bridge project. Bypass directions are on www.montourtrail.org.
A new bike and pedestrian bridge over Mill Creek has been officially opened in Ligonier. It's behind Weller Field. It was a cooperative effort by Ligonier Township, Ligonier Borough and the Loyalhanna Watershed Association.
A trail for the 'Que'
At least one segment of a 17-mile mountain bike trail around Quemahoning Lake in Somerset County might be under construction later this year. The 900-acre lake, better known as the Que (pronounced kwee by locals), was privately owned and closed to the public until it was purchased by the Cambria Somerset Authority in 2000.
Larry Walsh writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette.