Plans have been approved to expand the Three Rivers Heritage Trail along a mile of the riverfront.
The expansion will run from Aspinwall Riverfront Park to Blawnox Community Park. The corridor has been eyed for years as an ideal location for a trail, but it runs in front of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority plant, and conversations with previous city administrations left planners thinking they’d have to route the trail along Freeport Road.
“We had to really, carefully work with PWSA to make sure that the impact of the trail worked well with the operations of their facility, to make sure at the end of the day we had something that is available and open to the public and safe for the public and for the facility itself,” said Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront.
The trail will also cross UPMC’s Lighthouse Pointe retirement community and continue through O’Hara’s Chapel Harbor Development. Baxter said all affected entities worked together to develop plans for the trail, and added that trail development, in general, is not something that can be rushed.
“Trail development is a perceivably slow process,” he said. “It really takes a lot of careful planning, a lot of partnerships, and a lot of funding sources that we like to put together to make sure that what we build is sustainable and available for future generations.”
Friends of the Riverfront will supervise construction of the new trail and hold a license agreement with the City of Pittsburgh. Aspinwall Riverfront Park is donating $250,000 from an anonymous donor to the project. This expansion, according to Baxter, is part of ongoing development.
“This trail segment is part of a larger initiative to develop the riverfronts of Allegheny County into the Three Rivers Heritage Trail,” he said.
The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is about 25 miles of riverfront trails along both banks of all three rivers. Baxter said final details are being worked out and construction on this expansion is slated to begin in the next couple of months; the hope is to have it completed in the fall.