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County Unveils Three Potential Routes For Proposed Turtle Creek Connector Trail

Courtesy of Riverlife
The proposed Turtle Creek Connector Trail could make it easier to travel from Pittsburgh to the eastern suburbs by foot and bike.

Trail advocates and Allegheny County officials gathered for a virtual public meeting on Wednesday night to discuss a proposal for a new bike trail that could expand bike commuting options in the Pittsburgh region.

If the Turtle Creek Connector Trail is constructed, it would bridge the Westmoreland Heritage Trail (WHT) and the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and connect communities in the Turtle Creek Valley including: Braddock, East McKeesport, East Pittsburgh, Monroeville, North Braddock, North Versailles, Pitcairn, Rankin, Trafford, Turtle Creek, Wall, and Wilmerding.

“This trail corridor is part of a larger initiative to connect trails within Allegheny County and the region,” said Courtney Vita, the director of trail development at Friends of the Riverfront, which is involved with the project.

At the meeting, county officials and design consultants highlighted three different potential paths the Turtle Creek Connector Trail could take through some of Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs, like Rankin and Braddock.

Now that they’ve identified potential pathways for the trail, they’re seeking public input before moving forward. Any progress made on building the trail will likely advance in phases over the coming years, as the county works with other organizations to complete the project.

The Great Allegheny Passage spans about 150 miles and runs from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland. The Westmoreland Heritage Trail currently has two sections, but will eventually cover 22 miles from Saltsburg to Trafford.

Advocates said connecting the two trails could be a “gamechanger” for bikers and hikers in Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs.

“The section of the GAP between McKeesport and downtown Pittsburgh is favored by bike commuters, and so having an additional connection point in that part of Allegheny County would allow for bike commuters to access downtown Pittsburgh from Trafford and Murrysville and the eastern suburbs,” Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy executive director Bryan Perry said in an interview.

“The GAP is a beautiful spine that runs northwest to southeast, and all these connecting trails will really give folks more options for commuting or vacations or exploration,” Perry said.

Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy supports the residents and volunteers who maintain the GAP. It is not directly involved with the Turtle Creek Connector Trail project.

According to Perry, the project could encourage residents and tourists alike to visit parts of the region they haven’t seen before.

“For those of us who are advocates for cycling and multimodal transportation, having new connections between trails or among trail systems is always a great thing,” he said. “Just by virtue of having additional connections, it allows folks a chance to explore and to go a little bit farther and to try something new, and those are all good things for the region.”

A representative from the design firm WSP, which worked on the study, also attended the meeting to address questions and concerns from community members.

Allegheny County and WSP plan to holdtwo in-person open-house events in July for community members to ask questions and offer feedback on the study. People will also be able to leave comments on the project’s website.

Organizers say they hope to release a final report on the project this coming fall.

Corrected: June 28, 2021 at 7:22 PM EDT
This story was updated to reflect that the Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy does not maintain the GAP trail, but supports others that do.
Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at