Green truck using jail trail as shortcut

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stefb
Participant
#

At 5:10pm on the jail trail, someone driving a green truck with no construction lights or construction company markings was doing about 20mph down the middle of the trail. He didn’t move over and didn’t slow when he passed me. He was going inbound from the greenfield side trail head. There was no construction going on at that time. There was a long line to get into second ave that stretched pretty far into the UPMC parking lot. I can only assume that this person was using the trail as a shortcut. all of the construction is now between that trailhead and the hot metal bridge. Even if the person was some doer of construction worker, the trail is not for people to drive on to avoid traffic. Has anyone else encountered this person before?

Good news is that there is now a sign saying no vehicular traffic on the junction hollow trail, but we all know how people listen. I am wondering if that is in response to the RR cops using the trail to get to their post at the RR to stop people.


mattjackets
Member
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I’ve seen a LOT of cars & suvs on junction hollow trail. I’ve 311ed for them to lock the gates a few times, but instead they put up new signs….I don’t get it. The gates work.

I’ve seen private automobiles on the southside trail too. Again, they need to lock the gates on all the trails.

I talked to a man in an Acura who claims to have been following his GPS onto the Junction Hollow trail….if some manufacturer has the trail(s) listed as streets in their map data, we’ll just see more and more of this.


Ahlir
Participant
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Unless the gate is locked open, wouldn’t it just work to swing it to the closed position if you happen to see it open? I’d do it. (yes, there might be more to it)

Just to gratuitously inflame things: I’d bet it’s those Keystone Konstables who are responsible for this outrage.


stefb
Participant
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I also close the gate when it is open, especially when the assholes are sitting in their cars by the lake.

Next time I see a private vehicle on the trail, I am calling 911


RustyRed
Member
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We noticed the gate by the parking lot end of the soccer field was closed a few days ago.
Yesterday: it was ripped out of the ground as if someone had driven through it.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Bent inward or outward?


gg
Member
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Stefb: “I also close the gate when it is open, especially when the assholes are sitting in their cars by the lake.
Next time I see a private vehicle on the trail, I am calling 911”

Thanks for this. I have never seen this stuff going on yet, but I will do as you do. Thanks for the idea.


RustyRed
Member
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The way the gate was lying on the ground, it looks like it was hit by something attempting to get onto the trail/soccer field (inward).


jonawebb
Participant
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I called 911 on them. I also think it’s a good idea. Keep in mind that the operator will want a street address to report it to.


stefb
Participant
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I “fixed” that gate that was on the ground off of the trail.


Ahlir
Participant
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Saw that. Thanks, @stefb!
I closed the other gate (for the 3rd time this week).
Sigh.


Marko82
Participant
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I saw a police car cruse through on Wed. afternoon. Maybe they stepped up patrols due to 311 calls? Hard to tell.


Ahlir
Participant
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I’m starting to get a bad feeling.

— AVR is aggressively asserting control over a right-of-way that has been public for a long time. Trashing our amenities in the process.

— Nameless “vandals” are destroying public property (at present, the southern gate), with impunity. Maybe the public can’t be trusted with this space?

— Our elected officials are promoting a “public-private” partnership that will transfer effective ownership of the public’s Junction Hollow to a private corporation (the Almono developer).

It feels like a setup.

Sure, bikers and maybe peds will end up with some sort of passage through the hollow. Sure, it might be a few feet in between a railway fence and a busway (think Jail Trail). But it’ll be there. And look! There’s this genuine new waterway we put in for you! Right there, on the other side of the busway. And it’s an authentic watershed restoration, something all those conservationists always wanted! So what more did you people want?

I’ve been biking through that area (down that holler?) for decades. Even way back when it was just a bumpy gravel road. But I’m ok with the way it is now.

It would actually be nice to be able to bike along a stream and I’d love to have a bit more variety in the landscape. So it’s not like I’m against change. But let’s at least try to improve on what (little) we have now instead of destroying it so that Almono can get better value out of its development down on the river. At our expense.


jonawebb
Participant
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Bikers are in the best position politically we’ve ever been in this city. The East End is the best connected area in the city. And somehow we’re going to get screwed?


gg
Member
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I agree with Ahlir, something is going on. We already are getting screwed crossing the train tracks, which people, mostly on foot have been doing for over 100 years, what else is next? Just make that whole thing a highway? Not looking good.


paulheckbert
Participant
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I wouldn’t mind a shuttle bus running through Junction Hollow, if done right. If it gets more people to use public transit and cuts down on the number of cars, it’s almost always a win. I’m less concerned about the buses themselves, which will not be that frequent. I’m more concerned about police cars, fire engines, and private cars using that trail and the future shuttle bus road. And I don’t want new fences put up in the valley.

Let’s continue to push the city, AVR, and ALMONO to do this right.


jonawebb
Participant
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BTW, I talked with a friend of mine who says he knows about AVRR: he said it’s the head of the railroad (Russ Peterson?) who’s the problem. My friend says he has a month-to-month lease on the tracks there — and that’s all he has — but it’s enough to create trouble. According to my friend, he’s not making much money from running the railroad, and is looking for other revenue. Putting pressure on the city to negotiate with the railroad by blocking access to pedestrians and cyclists is one way to do that.
Apparently he’s well connected politically in Washington County. My friend suggested the way to get rid of him would be for Allegheny County politicians to talk with their Washington County brethren.


gg
Member
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Allegheny Valley Railroad’s CEO is Russell Peterson and he has been around a while. He was trying to get light rail which didn’t happen. Just looking at what this guy does, he will probably be one big pain in the butt for people wanting to cross the RR tracks that has a few trains on it going super slow, which is certainly not dangerous in the least. I wonder what his angle is to make such a big deal about something that has been done for over 100 years? He must just hate pedestrians and cyclists I guess. He has been around long enough to know there is no way someone could get hit by a train in that area. You can walk faster than they are going for goodness sake. He must have an angle, or just an angry person. Lucky us.


Ahlir
Participant
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I have no problem with a shuttle routed through the hollow. Automated gates like at the airport can deal with access authorization. But why trash the area in the process?

The ALMONO development will include a significant amount of new residential facilities. People working in Oakland are part of the target market; it is in ALMONO’s interest to make transportation available to their customers. I don’t know much about such things, but let me guess that a shuttle might translate into additional $50 revenue per unit, and cheap access to Oakland for the renters. There’s nothing wrong with that. It makes perfect sense for both parties.

What is wrong is ALMONO trying to build this amenity on the cheap: run a busway down the middle of the hollow and forcing its traffic onto residential streets at either end: Degrading the environment for those currently living there and for those who use it for passage or recreation.

The hollow evolved into its current form because the land had minimal economic value. Now that it’s maybe starting to be worth something we have to deal with powerful players who feel entitled to simply seize it for their own use. As a citizen (or, if you prefer, as a “taxpayer”) I would rather that the value of the existing space for others not be destroyed.

I can think of all sorts of busway routings that will minimally disrupt the area. But I’m not a professional and I’ll have to wait to see some plan options that make sense. Unless it’s all decided already…


Benzo
Participant
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I support this if it’s run by the port authority and accepts connect cards as payment

or

All trips are free and people who live in the hollow can use it to get to oakland or hazelwood as well, not just get passed by.


Pierce
Participant
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To Stef’s comment, the cops sitting by the tracks are driving their personal vehicles on the trail to then sit on RR? property. Would be interesting to see if that little space they have for themselves even IS RR property and what rights they have to drive up on the trail to sit there. (Not that I imagine anything would come of it, since cops don’t want to interfere with each other.)

On the other hand, another cop I interact with while valeting cars was saying the mayor’s office has instructed metermaids to ticket police cars that are parked illegally, so maybe they’d be more likely to bust non-city police breaking rules too

I’m dubious of this run connection. Why not just send the stupid shuttles up Bates and save millions upon millions of dollars? Bates/2nd ave is only backed up during rush hour. So we’re going to build a ton of infustructure to solve a problem that only exists like two or three hours a week mon-friday. And it’s only a problem for people driving. Because cyclists and peds can already take the hollow


mattjackets
Member
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There were a LOT of car/truck tire tracks in the newly fallen snow on the Panther Hollow trail this morning.

The city has left the gates open for months….I’d really like to know why the city has suddenly stopped caring about people driving on the trail. In the past, they have done a lot to stop this behavior (reinforcing locks on the gates, adding big rocks to stop people from slipping between the existing boulders).


Ahlir
Participant
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There were a LOT of car/truck tire tracks in the newly fallen snow on the Panther Hollow trail this morning.

If possible, could someone snap some pics and post them? It’s useful to have documented these problems when asserting that they exist.


jonawebb
Participant
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I’d be willing to bet that this is all linked to the construction that is going on along the Eliza Furnace Trail, which is PWSA, I believe.
I suspect this is not a government conspiracy; just a contractor doing a job and driving trucks there to do it.


Ahlir
Participant
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A email sent to Corey O’Connor, District 5 Councellor:

Mr. O’Connor:

The gates at either end of this path are no longer functional.

At the 4-mile run end, the existing gate has been crashed into and ripped out of its foundation. At the Panther Hollow end it is no longer locked and seems always left open. If anyone closes it, it’s again left open. Last week, between me and another person we’ve had to close the gate 4 times (other people may be trying to do this as well).

As a result of this breakdown in maintenance cars are starting to drive on the path, creating a hazard for people walking or riding bikes. And it’s a path used as well by families. We and others do not understand why the city is neglecting to secure this area.

Can you look into to this and let people know what is going on? This is a serious safety issue and the longer it is ignored the more dangerous things get.

Thank you.


Ahlir
Participant
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I suspect this is not a government conspiracy;

I would agree. Haven’t seen any black helicopters down there. Though maybe they’re started to use drones instead.

Contractors doing their job probably don’t rip stuff out of the ground. I expect they would also have been instructed to close gates behind them and such. If they’re the ones out on the EFT, why wouldn’t they use Bates to get to Oakland? It’s faster and more direct.


paulheckbert
Participant
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I know someone who drove the trail once, a few weeks ago, but feels bad about having done it. I think, if the gates are kept open, more people will be tempted to try it once, when in a rush. And if they discover that there were no repercussions, they might be tempted to do it again.

Yes, we need to get those gates locked shut, so the anarchy doesn’t spread.


mattjackets
Member
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Came here to post about the southern gate being ripped out of the ground. I’ll grab pictures next time for sure. I’ve seen enough of the cars/suvs doing it, and even spoke to one guy driving an Acura…he said his GPS told him to take the (panther hollow) trail. If he is being truthful, and some map data is categorizing the trail as a road, that would explain the increase in motor vehicle use.

As for the EFT, I saw a Lincoln SUV parked with the construction equipment this morning….some of the workers may be using personal vehicles to get things done there. I don’t have a problem with that as long as they leave the trail in good shape once construction is done.


J Z
Participant
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For the record, I don’t particularly like how the trail has ended up with that new patched asphalt that transitions poorly with the old asphalt. It wasn’t particularly pleasant to ride with the little snow we had yesterday and I found myself riding in the middle of EFT/Jail Trail to avoid the new patched section inbound.


Ahlir
Participant
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Well, the vandalized gate at the south end is now completely disappeared. Maybe city workers cleared it off in preparation for replacing it. They did leave the sign that says “No Motorized Vehicles” and threatens a $300 ($500?) fine for violators, which is a good, uh, sign.

At the other end the gate was open again so I closed it, again. And, yes, there’s a “No Motorized Vehicles” sign at this end as well.
As I tooled into Panther Hollow I passed a U of Pitt truck headed the other way. My curiosity was piqued. I turned around and halted at the top of the rise to observe. The truck stopped at the gate, turned around and came back up past me. I felt deprived: I could be ranting right now! But it did allow me to avoid freezing my fingers trying to snap pics for evidence. Seems fair. And I got this nice positive feeling about Pitt workers.

The problem, of course, is as another poster pointed out, people are starting to expect being able to drive through. Soon they will feel entitled (just like those walkers and bikers had been up to now).

Do close the gate if you happen to see it open; it’s easy to do, more so than it might seem. Placing the cone in the middle is a nice aesthetic touch (and makes the barrier more obvious for all to see.)


mattjackets
Member
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The new signs have been there for several weeks. They installed signs, but didn’t lock the gates. Very strange.

Here is some video from yesterday morning. The snow is only a few hours old, and you can see plenty of motor vehicle tracks. The best view of the tracks are at the beginning and end of the video.

Sigh…


gg
Member
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Wow, it has become a road for motor vehicles I guess. What a shame. Thanks for all you folks do. Seems we are outnumbered in this area. No crossing the tracks which has been going on for over 100 years and now we have vehicular traffic on our path. Oh well, it is what it is. What is next, opening up the Jail trail? Perhaps the South Side trail to give folks in cars a better view of the river?

FFS, it isn’t very encouraging.


helen s
Participant
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Nice light in the video. It looks like a black and white where the sky has been colorized.


mattjackets
Member
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My 311 request regarding the traffic on the Panther Hollow trail just had a note added to it by someone:

Note: this is an ongoing problem since the closing of the Greenfield Bridge.


MaryShaw
Member
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Wouldn’t it be interesting if a couple of the people who like to leave locks on the fencing of the Schenley Park bridge between Phipps and Schenley Plaza would instead use those locks to lock the trail gates shut? Not that any responsible person would do such a thing ….


Marko82
Participant
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^just remember that the DPW needs to unlock those gates if they need to plow. ok, ok, quit laughing – it could happen.


stefb
Participant
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Well not only is it not safe to have motorized vehicles flying through a trail, but they are destroyed the trails with the weight of their vehicles. Do you see how shitty the jail trail has become? Freeze/thaw into those cracks, and then after they leave, we have to deal with shitty trail that they fucked up and won’t fix.

I take the fucking trails to avoid vehicular traffic. If a small truck or cart comes through and plows/salts, that would be great. And I am sure infrequent. They can access it from only one end, and there should be no one else going through, not even people that were highered by those fuckers to sit at the tracks at panther hollow lake. I looked, and they can take an access road to get there and sit if they must. They don’t have to use the trail. That section has gotten worse.

I also tried to post a comment to the bike pgh FB account, not sure it went through.

I encountered utility workers twice last week flying down the jail trail in trucks and carts. There is one douche with shitty tribal tattoos that was flying down the trail. He also drove a cart up onto the trail from second ave at a high speed and didn’t even look before entering the trail. Now I have encountered a guy or two who will slow down or even stop when a trail user is there, but for real, someone needs to remind them all that the speed limit is 15


gg
Member
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Stefb stated: “Well not only is it not safe to have motorized vehicles flying through a trail, but they are destroyed the trails with the weight of their vehicles.”

Yep, I noticed this as well. Vehicles are destroying all the trails. There really should NEVER be a vehicle on trails. Look at the riverfront trails on the North Shore. Full of massive puddles because of the garage pickup trucks. The Jail trail? Toast due to vehicles. South Side trail that is used by police and whatever other government vehicle? Destroyed. They are taking advantage and really should NEVER be there!


paulheckbert
Participant
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Others of you travel these trails more frequently than I do, but 100% (2 out of 2) of the cars that I’ve witnessed driving on the Junction Hollow Trail have been police. Are they the main violators?

Maybe we should start using wire ties to close the Boundary Street gate?


stefb
Participant
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There shouldn’t even be cops on that trail either. If they want to patrol,there are bicycle cops on bicycles. They don’t put bicycle cops on the highways.

And why is there a Honda CRV that drives up and through the point from commonwealth place every morning around 5:55am? The driver goes slow and puts on blinkers, and I can pass, but there is access to the park from other roads. No markings on the vehicle. Look how shitty that trail surface has gotten with vehicles driving on and off setting up for events.

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