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Parks Conservancy breaks ground on system-wide trail and signage improvement

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy broke ground Monday on a multi-million dollar comprehensive trail and sign improvement project.

Construction will begin on trails in lower Frick Park, and other projects will begin along Butler Street on the north side of Highland Park, on the Bob Harvey and Mairdale Trails in Riverview Park, and on the Works Progress Administration-era bridges in Schenley Park. Additionally, wayfinding and educational signs will be installed throughout the four regional parks. The signs, designed by Kolano Design, will provide directions for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as information about park history, and plant and animal life.

"The trails were constructed about 100 years ago, and the nature of the urban setting is significantly different today than it was then," says Phil Gruszka, director of park management and maintenance. "As we build up communities adjacent to the parks, we have more stormwater entering the park system, so we have more soil erosion."

After the trails are reengineered, they will be able to better sustain storm events without loss of trail surface, says Gruszka. This will make the trails more usable year-round with fewer safety concerns, and lower maintenance costs for the city, which will spend less money replacing gravel that is washed away with rain.

The trail and signage project should take about 10 months to complete, Gruszka says.

Representative Mike Doyle and Senator Arlen Specter were instrumental in securing the $3.1 million federal grant that has made the project possible. Other funding came from Eden Hall Foundation, Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Ryan Memorial Foundation and UPMC. Foundations, individuals and the corporate community helped to raise more than $498,000, releasing nearly $2 million in federal funds.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Phil Gruszka, director of parks management and maintenance, and Laura Cook, marketing communications coordinator, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Photograph courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

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