Closed since July for repairs on its exterior and interior, the century-old onetime railroad tunnel on what’s now the Montour Trail in Peters has reopened for people on bikes, wheelchairs and on foot.
In fact, a walk-through Friday afternoon featured several people from the Montour Trail Council, including its president, Ned Williams, and from the Swank Corp., which relined much of the tunnel’s crumbling concrete ceiling in steel. That New Kensington company is the same one that built the new Fern Hollow Bridge in the city’s East End after it failed in January 2022.
The reopening of the 235-foot-long tunnel also reopens that stretch of the trail, at about mile marker 28.5, for which there was no posted detour, due to the narrowness and twisting topography of local roads.
This work at the east portal is the second of three phases of reconstruction on the tunnel, which the Montour Railroad Co. bored in 1913 and lined with concrete in 1922. Stabilizing the western portal is part of the next phase that is to begin in the spring.
The $1 million-plus project received significant funding from by the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County, and trail users contributed to the Montour Trail Council (MTC), as well.
Williams in a news release called it “one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever completed by the Montour Trail Council in the history of the 34-year-old trail” and thanked users for their patience.
The main part of the 60-mile trail runs from Coraopolis to Clairton and is back to being continuous from mile marker 0 near Coraopolis to near mile marker 36 in Library, and the mostly volunteer MTC is working to open a few gaps in the south. It also connects to a couple of spur trails.
For more information, including maps and a link to donate to the Greer Tunnel Fund, visit https://montourtrail.org.
Bob, a feature writer and editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and serving as interim editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Contact him at email@example.com.