By Ryan Deto
Plans have been in the works for years to extend the multi-use, riverfront trail from Millvale up to Aspinwall, and while those are still ongoing and have some delays, they are taking a small step forward with a temporary trail likely to come between Aspinwall and Sharpsburg.
Sharpsburg Mayor-elect Brittany Reno says a temporary, mulch trail is planned to run from Allegheny RiverTrail Park in Aspinwall all the way to James Sharp Landing at 13th Street in Sharpsburg. (The Allegheny RiverTrail Park was formerly known as the Aspinwall Riverfront Park.) The new trail will be about 1.5 miles and Reno says the goal of the temporary trail is to renew focus on the overall goal of extending a trail from Millvale, through Etna, Shaler, and Sharpsburg, and end in Aspinwall.
“Since Etna’s opening of the Etna Riverfront Park & Trail, we have renewed motivation to fill the critical trail gap that exists in Sharpsburg,” wrote Reno in an email to Pittsburgh City Paper. “Key to the completion of the connections in Sharpsburg and Shaler Township between Millvale and Etna are ongoing efforts to work with the railroad in the corridor to come to an access agreement that allows for the safe sharing of the corridor.”
To assist in this effort to complete a new temporary trail, Allegheny RiverTrail Park is holding a fundraiser on Fri., Dec. 17, where the group will be launching a campaign where people can purchase wooden stakes to paint that will eventually be put in the ground alongside the trail, according to Reno.
“The idea is that everyone has a stake in the future of our riverfront,” wrote Reno. “This fundraiser will continue into the new year with a plan to have this temporary trail open to the public in March of 2022.”
Proposals for a trail extension from Millvale along the Allegheny River to Aspinwall have been in the works for some time, and in 2017, got a boost when the municipalities involved — Etna, Shaler, Sharpsburg, and Aspinwall — discovered that a small railroad bridge over Pine Creek was actually public access, when the Norfolk-Southern Railway claimed access to the bridge was controlled by the railway. However, negotiations over the trial with Norfolk-Southern are still ongoing, and the trail has suffered delays, like many public works projects.
Municipal leaders in the affected boroughs believe a riverfront trail connecting their boroughs — and connecting the Three Rivers Heritage Trail that stretches from Millvale to the North Side and beyond — will boost economic activity in the municipalities, as well as improve quality of life for the residents. There are also efforts to purchase an old train-bridge and convert it into a multi-use trail that would connect Aspinwall to Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood.
Allegheny RiverTrail Park, a nonprofit group, is now taking over the management of this planned trail. Their “Shiver on the River” fundraiser will feature live music, a holiday market with artisanal vendors, a special holiday display for children on loan from the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, fire pits for roasting marshmallows, and food and drink for sale from farmer x baker.