Pittsburg Trails Expand

“A pedestrian friendly city is a healthy city,” Deborah McGeorge, an Active Transportation Advisory Board member, told me recently.  “It’s a physically healthy city for the citizens, but it is also just a vibrant, healthy–economically healthy–city.  If people can get out and get around town easily, they will.”

She told me of recent expansions to Pittsburg’s urban walking and biking trail system,  including the East/West Connector–a walking trail that extends from the Watco trail at North Broadway to the south end Schlanger Park–and the Pittsco Sunflower Trail–a path running along Rouse from Washington to the railroad tracks near Randall Drive–that are bringing the city one step closer to reaching its goal of becoming a bicycle and pedestrian friendly city.

Along with my friend Sarah and my infant son in his stroller, I decided to go for a walk to check out Pittsburg’s expanding urban trail system for myself.  We began our trek at the towering sunflower bike rack located in Paul B. Leffler Rotary Park near the southwest end of Watco trail.  This trail runs from 2nd & Georgia to just south PCMS on North Broadway.  I frequently see middle school students walking home on this trail after school.

Along Watco trail we passed Westside Elementary school, as well as several benches for taking a break, as we walked across the residential area between West 4th and West 11th Streets, a neighborhood I lovingly call “The West Digits.”

There is a lovely trail head on the northeastern end of the trail, which is now met by a traffic light to allow pedestrians safe crossing at Broadway.  The trail then continues east along the south side of Hutchison Field.  The trail extends along 12th Street and passes Wesley House and Knights of Columbus, making the trail a convenient route for those traveling to either location.

The East/West Connector links to existing sidewalks in Schlanger Park. Photos by Megan Stoneberger, The Pittsburg Appeal

The East/West Connector then heads south along Michigan Street to 7th where it crosses the railroad tracks and follows Short Street to the northwest corner of Schlanger Park.  Here bikers and pedestrians alike can hop onto the new accessible playground equipment, stop by the wading pool, or pop an ollie at the skate park.

Sarah and I decided to walk through the park and continue our journey to the Pittsco Sunflower Trail recently completed along South Rouse.  The East/West Connector ends at the southeast corner of the park and, unfortunately, the sidewalk along 4th is not in the best condition.  It is narrow and overgrown.  Sarah had to walk in the grass, muddying her shoes, while I pushed the stroller along the shrunken walkway.

The sidewalk on East 4th Street narrows and is currently overgrown, making pedestrian use more difficult.

The conditions of the sidewalk improved as we turned south at the intersection at the corner of 4th and Rouse.  This paved path, however, stops suddenly just short of 2nd Street.  Busy Rouse did not seem like a safe street to walk in, especially with a baby in a stroller, so we walked in the grass along side the road.  This was far less enjoyable and much more strenuous than the sidewalk, particularly with the stroller.  But several times semi-trucks sped past us, affirming our decision to stay off the road.  The Active Transportation Advisory Board has this unpaved portion of our route in mind for future trail development; financing is the primary obstacle at this point.

The stretch of Rouse between 2nd and Washington Streets currently does not feature a sidewalk. The Active Transportation Advisory Board has designated future trail development in this area a priority.

I was relieved when the sidewalk resumed at Washington Street, the north end of the new Pitsco Sunflower Trail, and I no longer had to struggle with my stroller through the grass.  This new sidewalk is quite nice and passes Pittsco and several apartment complexes, providing walkable routes to many residents.  There’s even a new bench at the corner of Quincy and Rouse looking onto three ArtFest sculptures.  This trail was made possible by funds provided by Pitsco’s Harvey Dean and stops at the railroad tracks on South Rouse.

Sarah admires the sculptures at the corner of Quincy and Rouse along the Pitsco Sunflower Trail.

Sidewalk continues on the other side of the tracks south past PSU’s Tech Center–where students can hop onto the bike & walking path through campus–and on to Centennial, furnishing pedestrians with a safe route to Via Christi and the new Wal-Mart Marketplace scheduled to open January 20th.  Or, walkers can choose to head west on the well-maintained sidewalk along Centennial to Joplin Street and stop in at Ron’s Supermarket or Meadowbrook Mall.

Although there is still room to grow, Pittsburg’s urban trail system is clearly among her many appealing assets to the community and makes active transportation a convenient and delightful option for residents. u

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s