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Funding Announced for Infrastructure to Link Local and Regional Trail Systems

The Allegheny Regional Asset District has approved $100,000 in funding for a project that will better link downtown Pittsburgh to the region's trail system.

The Mon Wharf Switchback Ramp will slope down from the Smithfield Street Bridge to the Mon Wharf Landing park and trail. The completed project will allow cyclists easy access in and out of the golden triangle, Point State Park, and the Great Allegheny Passage. The Allegheny Passage is an interstate trail system running 150 miles between Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.

Riverlife, a nonprofit working to redevelop Pittsburgh's riverfronts, will oversee the two-year construction project. The group estimates 800,000 cyclists will use the ramp to transfer between two currently disconnected trails.

"There's a 40-foot drop from the end of the Allegheny Passage Trail down onto the Mon Wharf trail. It really is a missing tooth, if you will. Once the switchback ramp is installed, then all of those cyclists will be able to make it into the park," Schroeder said.

Beyond providing a corridor for recreational cyclists and commuters, the ramp will enable ADA-compliant access for pedestrians to travel between Downtown and the Mon Wharf Landing park, a newly designed space that includes benches, landscaping, and tie ups for kayaks.

"We are finding that families now are coming to the riverfronts over the weekend to enjoy fishing, to go to sporting events, and to just enjoy being closer to the water," Schroeder said.

Riverlife has raised more than $2 million toward the project, and is about two-thirds of the way to meeting its funding goal. The RAD funding enables work with design and engineering to move forward while fundraising for construction continues. Schroeder expects building will begin by the end of 2012.