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McKeesport officials are envisioning a day when the regional hiking and biking trail network could be connected to Renziehausen Park, Grandview and other city neighborhoods.
By 6-0 vote, council this month approved an application to the Active Allegheny grant program for $81,000 for a project called “Pedestrian Access to McKeesport’s Trail Systems.”
Administered by the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, the Active Allegheny program provides financial assistance to municipalities to develop bicycle and pedestrian connections from neighborhoods to local destinations, and increase opportunities for residents to get exercise.
Mayor Michael Cherepko said that if the city’s application is successful, the money would be used for planning, development and engineering work on ways to provide bike trail access to residential neighborhoods.
McKeesport is a “trail town” on the Great Allegheny Passage, the biking and hiking trail which runs along the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers and ultimately connects Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., via Cumberland, Md., and the C&O Canal Towpath trail.
Other trails in the McKeesport area include the McKeesport Loop, which serves Christy Park and 11th Ward and connects to the GAP trail at each end; and the Steel Valley Heritage Trail, which connects to the GAP trail in Downtown McKeesport and runs to Clairton, mostly over existing roads.
But because the GAP and the McKeesport Loop follow old abandoned railroad lines, the trail does not provide direct access to many of the city’s residential neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, Cherepko said, the city is moving ahead with plans to expand the existing fitness trail in Renzie Park to serve Lake Emilie, the new dog park and other areas.
In April, El Grande Industries of Donora, Washington County, was awarded an $188,675 contract to extend the fitness trail by 250 feet and widen and repave more than one mile of the existing trail.
City officials said work on the trail has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused all non-essential construction to be postponed, and extremely wet conditions.
“I don’t want to worry about the (fitness) trail right now, because I don’t want the park to be under construction for a month or two months or however long it takes,” Cherepko said. “I don’t want Renzie Park torn up all summer. So we’re leaning toward paving the trail after the streets are paved.”
El Grande also was the low bidder on the city’s summer street paving program.
The city eventually anticipates extending the fitness trail to the other side of Eden Park Boulevard, the mayor said.
“We’re going to do what we can to get the trail around Lake Emilie, up to the mound and then up to the dog park,” Cherepko said.
Jason Togyer is editor of The Tube City Almanac and volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published June 10, 2020.