In 2009, Allegheny County, Friends of the Riverfront (FOR) and Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) began a two-year process planning and organizing with 17 municipalities to develop a 26-mile trail alignment along the Allegheny River as an extension to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. This effort resulted in the Community Trails Initiative; a planning document completed with the municipalities setting a possible trail alignment.
Over the years, several municipalities along this corridor, including Etna, Shaler, Aspinwall, Springdale, and Brackenridge, have applied and received funding from Active Allegheny. Active Allegheny is a limited county-sponsored funding opportunity available to municipalities and Council of Governments (COGS) to plan for bike/pedestrian improvements around Allegheny County. These funds have been able to advance development of the 26-mile extension project along the Allegheny River.
Brackenridge is a small municipality at the far east “end” of Allegheny County along the Allegheny River and with a population of 3,201. The community borders Tarentum Borough and Harrison Township and slopes up from the river towards Old Freeport Road. Within the community, there is a small riverfront park with a walking path and an undeveloped section of the riverfront that is used by residents for additional walking space. In 2018, Brackenridge, with support from Friends of the Riverfront, applied for and was successful in securing a $20,500 planning grant from Active Allegheny.
This grant focused on planning and engineering a safe alignment along the riverfront and through the Brackenridge community park, creating a new 0.5 mile off-road trail. This section would connect to an existing on-road section of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Tarentum Borough and an under-development section in Harrison Township. Friends of the Riverfront, supported by the consultant and Brackenridge Borough, developed a community process. The community supported the trail planning and saw the benefit of being a part of a network of community trails.
Brackenridge was able to leverage these funds to secure additional funding from FOR and PEC for additional funds to complete final engineering and begin the permitting process with the Department of Environmental Protection. When the Active Allegheny grant was completed, through the support of Allegheny County Economic Development and FOR, a grant was secured through the Southwestern Planning Commission’s Transportation Alternative Set-Aside Program for $284,445 and PA DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program for $60,400 to build the trail. Construction is planned to begin in 2022.