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'Wish list' projects get financial boost

Improvements cover recreation, site work

Thursday, May 02, 2002

By Joe Grata, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A biking-blading facility for Pittsburgh's so-called "jail trail," a Lincoln Highway heritage center in Ligonier and more flower gardens arranged through the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy are on the way.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced approval of $54.4 million in federal funding for 153 projects statewide for recreational trails, historic transportation-related projects and roadside landscaping.

Many projects have been on the wish lists of municipalities and organizations for some time.

The Port Authority is to receive $232,000 for the city's first "bike station," to be built next to the First Avenue light-rail station near the Eliza Furnace Trail, also called the jail trail.

Features being considered for the facility include lockers, bike and in-line skating rentals, restrooms, vending machines, repair services and a possible cafe or snack bar. The Richard King Mellon Foundation has pledged $128,000 and PennDOT has committed $50,000 toward the project.

Other funding includes:

$1 million for more improvements to Riverfront Park on the North Shore.

$500,000 to convert the other half of the Hot Metal Bridge to the South Side to a pedestrian/biking facility.

$500,000 to rehabilitate and spruce up the Anderson Street and Sandusky Street railroad underpasses.

$200,000 for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to develop the latest phase of "gateway gardens" for communities.

The federal funds are the third and final round of special "enhancements" contained in the nation's transportation funding act, known as TEA-21, the same legislation that provides federal funding for roads, bridges and public transit.

Some projects are in the advanced planning stages or ready for construction. It may take up to a year for others to get under way.

Other Allegheny County proj-ects include:

Penn Hills Quality Community Project Inc., $135,000 for landscaping improvements to Allegheny River Boulevard turnouts.

Steel Industry Heritage Corp., $190,000 for renovations to the Steel Valley Footbridge.

University of Pittsburgh, $35,000 for bicycle racks on campus and in Oakland.

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