Soon walkers, runners and cyclists along the Montour Trail’s Arrowhead Trail section in Peters Township will no longer have to contend with the sometimes dangerous Valley Brook Road curve while on their travels. A new bridge installed Wednesday over Brush Run Creek will connect the trail with another finished trail.
According to Mark Imgrund, president of the Peters Township Friends of the Montour Trail, the new, approximately 100-foot-long bridge will be open to trail users by the end of this summer. Currently, folks who use the trail have to maneuver down a 250-yard portion of Valley Brook Road near the sanitary authority building and around what Imgrund calls a “blind curve,” to then pick back up on the finished portion of the trail.
“There was no connection before,” Imgrund said, adding that the last connection to that portion of the trail was before it was even a trail and the railroad was still there.
The process to have a bridge over Brush Run Creek started more than a decade ago in 2002, when preliminary designs began. However, Imgrund said the federal money the Friends of the Montour Trail group had to build the bridge was diverted to the Muse-Bishop Bridge in Cecil Township.
“This languished for years,” Imgrund said of the newly installed Brush Run Creek Bridge. Then, about three years ago, Imgrund said the group received a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to fund the design of the new bridge. The group also received $250,000 in grant money and $27,000 from private donors, as well as funding from the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency and Rails to Trails Conservancy.
Imgrund said design of the bridge started in late 2011, and the contract for the bridge was awarded in the fall of 2012 to Gregory Engineering. The building of the bridge was completed this spring in Shakopee, Minn., and the bridge itself, made of weathering steel, arrived in two 50-foot sections on two trucks at 10 a.m. Wednesday. After about half an hour of maneuvering the truck in the parking lot, the first section of the bridge was lifted via a large crane off of the truck.
The process of lifting and placing the two portions of the bridge took about four hours. Imgrund said now that the bridge has been installed, volunteers will have a couple of months of work to do on the span, such as installing signs, fixing the trail surface and installing posts to prevent cars from accessing the trail. A concrete deck also will be installed on the bridge.
“By the end of summer it will be usable,” Imgrund said. He said after the bridge is open, an official ribbon-cutting will be held.
Kristin Matheny, Tara O’Brien and Sarah Fabo were running along the trail the morning of the bridge placement and were surprised when they came across it.
“We run it at least once a week,” Matheny, of Upper St. Clair, said. “This trail is phenomenal.”
The women said they use the trail to train for marathons and have been running it regularly for about a decade.
All three said the connecting bridge was needed and that the curvy Valley Brook Road was dangerous because of speeding cars.
Fabo, of Mt. Lebanon, added that with the new bridge, parking to access the trail will be easier.
“It will make it easier to bring our kids down here,” O’Brien, of Upper St. Clair, said. She said their kids would be able to run ahead or bike ahead of them without them having to worry about cars on Valley Brook Road.
Further information on the Montour Trail, which Imgrund said is used by nearly 600,000 people each year, can be found online at www.montourtrail.org. Imgrund said volunteers are needed to help get the bridge ready for use. People can sign up to volunteer on the website by clicking on the “Help us” tab.