top of page

Reconnecting Hazelwood to the Duck Hollow Trail | The Homepage

Also: Hazelwood Initiative celebrates climate resilience achievements

By Juliet Martinez, managing editor

The Nov. 14 Hazelwood Initiative community meeting was well attended with close to 40 people in person in Community Kitchen’s second-floor classroom. Another 20 attended online. Most of the discussion revolved around an effort to reconnect Hazelwood to Duck Hollow. The community development corporation announced a new weatherization grant.

Celebrating achievements

Tiffany Taulton, Hazelwood Initiative director of outreach and sustainability, announced that the organization has received a $100,000 grant from the Department of Energy that will help residents weatherize their homes, lower their energy burden and reduce their use of fossil fuels.

She took a moment to celebrate the climate resilience work in the neighborhood over the last four years. In 2020, with grants from Trust for Public Lands and Treevitalize, residents planted 25 trees near Lytle Land and the former YMCA (now Three Rivers Village School). In 2021, residents and volunteers planted 170 trees in the greenway. Another 30 were planted in the neighborhood through adoption events, and eight residents got trained as tree tenders.

In 2022, through grants from the National Recreation and Parks Association and Tree Pittsburgh, 240 more trees were planted. Hazelwood Initiative also started a program to distribute air quality monitors around the neighborhood. Even though Hazelwood has some of the highest rates of asthma in the city, there were no air quality monitors. And the organization helped launch the largest solar co-op in the state, which raised over $135,000 to give seven Hazelwood families free solar panels, instantly lowering their light bills.

A few weeks ago, the organization planted its 700th tree.

“I’m really proud of all the work that we have done together,” Ms. Taulton said.

Reconnecting to Duck Hollow

Railroad tracks and a fence under the Glenwood Bridge currently block access to the Duck Hollow Trail. Restoring that access would mean creating a safe and pleasant corridor for people to travel back and forth from Hazelwood to Homestead, Swissvale, Frick Park and Carrie Furnace.

Friends of the Riverfront project manager and landscape architect Katie Kovalchik said the nonprofit received a grant from the Allegheny County Trail Development Fund to explore the feasibility of connecting Hazelwood to Duck Hollow and develop a preliminary design. The organization works on trail development along the rivers and making connections with neighborhoods within Allegheny County. Friends of the Riverfront maintains the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, a 33-mile trail system with segments on both banks of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.

Kristy Carter of Traffic Planning and Design led a discussion about the project, its study area and finding the best path and facility types for the trail. She said feasibility studies start with broad concepts and then gradually work out the specifics.

Ms. Carter introduced the proposed routes, which all follow the existing street network. The Hazelwood Trail ends on Gloster Street just short of its intersection with Tecumseh Street. Ms. Carter shared four options for routes connecting the Hazelwood Trail from that point to the paved Duck Hollow Trail. (See sidebar.)

Ms. Carter then invited meeting participants to open an online real-time polling site to rate each route on a scale of zero to 10 for two questions. The first question was “How well would this route serve the people in this neighborhood who walk or bike?” The second question was “How well would this route connect the Three Rivers Heritage Trail for people who walk or bike?”

The meeting participants rated the Blair Street and Herbert Way route as not benefiting people in the neighborhood who walk or bike. But they said the route would do a good job connecting the Three Rivers Heritage Trail for people who walk or bike.

The Dyke Street and Herbert Way route scored high on both questions.

The Gertrude Street and Gate Lodge Way route received low scores for both questions, as did the Second Avenue route.

Ms. Carter touched on the challenges of coordinating with the railroad for the project, which will require a lot of time and money. Building a “flyover” bridge that crosses over the railroad tracks is anticipated to be part of the trail connection and will be designed as a part of this project.

The project team reviewed multiple studies exploring the idea of a riverfront trail connecting Hazelwood Green directly to Duck Hollow. This concept did not move forward because of the steep and potentially unstable banks of the Monongahela River. There is also a major rail yard to navigate, which would require cooperation with the railroad. If a structure were built to facilitate a trail along the riverbank, it would be costly, with a long design and permitting process.

This route would also bypass the neighborhood of Hazelwood, which goes against the original intent of the project. While a few attendees supported the riverfront trail concept, others urged the importance of a trail network going through Hazelwood. That way people can stop at neighborhood businesses for a break or a meal.

Ms. Carter said the online survey for this project got more than 300 responses. They plan to take all the information they gathered and see what the overall preferences are.

More public meetings will happen before the project wraps up in late 2024. At that time, the project team expects to have the final data from the feasibility study and the finished preliminary design documents.

Small business update

Hazelwood Initiative senior director of real estate Dave Brewton said a new tenant, 1:11 Juice Bar, has moved into the restaurant space downstairs from the organization’s offices. They are using the space for production right now, but in the spring they will open for retail business. They currently have a retail space in South Side.


bottom of page