Railway crossing in Etna deemed public, could save millions in extension of Three Rivers Heritage Trail

August 16, 2017 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
PEC in the News

Etna could see the completion of its Riverfront Park and Trail sooner than anticipated now that a major impediment to its development has disappeared.

The proposed park and trail would sit above the Allegheny River and below the 62nd Street bridge, extending the Three Rivers Heritage Trail — a multi-use, 24-mile trail with riverfront segments — from Millvale into Etna. The latter also is collaborating with Shaler on plans for a trail connection.

In Etna, rail lines run parallel to the river. The track’s owners, Norfolk Southern, said the crossing was its private property, meaning cyclists and pedestrians could not use it to cross the tracks to gain trail access.

If private, access would occur by constructing an overpass or flyover, which would cost an estimated $3.2 million.

At an Aug. 9 Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission hearing, Etna officials and their attorneys, David Wolf and Deborah Erbstein, presented a complaint to affirm that the crossing is public. Rudy Husband, Norfolk Southern resident vice president, also attended…

…Also presented was the PUC’s own records designating the crossing as a public crossing.

“It (the commission) doesn’t need to make a ruling,” Wolf said. “The parties agreed at the site visit that it was a public crossing.”

Norfolk Southern has agreed and will remove signage.

“It’s a public crossing. We posted the sign in error, and we are going to rectify that,” Husband said in a phone call.

He said he didn’t know how long the sign has been at the crossing.

“Obviously, this is a great move. The Pennsylvania Environmental Council and everybody on the team — the steering committee — has been wonderful in supporting us and trying to get our piece of the Riverfront Park developed, and so we’re just very grateful to everyone who has gotten us to where we are now,” Ramage said.

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