The trail has been praised by regional leaders, but there are several communities it doesn’t reach. Now, Allegheny County officials are looking at creating a new trail in the Turtle Creek Valley, in hopes of running a spur from the GAP trail, and extending it east to Trafford.
A report from Allegheny County’s offices of Economic Development, Public Works, and the County Executive lays out the case for why a trail through the Turtle Creek Valley would benefit that region, and beyond. The study area includes sections of Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek, North Versailles, Monroeville, Wilmerding, Pitcairn, Wall, East McKeesport, and Trafford.
An exact path of the trail has not been identified and the county is holding public meetings to pitch the idea to residents. According to the Allegheny County website, the purpose of the proposed project is to “provide an accessible, convenient, and equitable system linkage” between the GAP trail along the Monongahela River, and Westmoreland Heritage Trail, which starts in Trafford and runs east to Export.
The potential trail is also hoping to improve economic and mobility benefits for residents in the Turtle Creek Valley. That region has been hit hard over the decades by the loss of manufacturing jobs and significant population loss. According to the county’s report, potential economic and health benefits are key to the county’s desire for a Turtle Creek trail.
“A multi-use trail is the mode of choice in this study as it was identified in previous planning efforts and because it can help fulfill the need for a healthy physical and economic link between the economically disadvantaged communities of the Turtle Creek Valley and surrounding communities of the corridor,” reads the report.
A trail in the Turtle Creek Valley could be disproportionately beneficial to low-income residents and people of color. According to the county's report, 30% of the study area’s population are people of color. Allegheny County is 20% people of color. The poverty rate in the study area is four percentage points higher than the Allegheny County average, and 22% of the study area households don’t have access to a car, compared to the county average of 16%.
Possible infrastructure improvements to the corridor include a separate shared use path (aka trail), a protected bike lane (or cycle track) running along streets, or shared use markings on streets.
The county is hosting a public meeting on June 23 to discuss the proposal, and some municipal leaders have already thrown their support behind it. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, mayors of Braddock and Monroeville are excited about the potential to connect the Turtle Creek Valley towns.
Those interested in watching the meeting can register at the county’s website. The June 23 meeting runs from 6-7:30 p.m.