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The Mon Wharf Switchback Paves a Route to the River

The new ramp to the Monongahela River provides a way for bikers and walkers to access the riverfront.

photos by sarah shearer

Swirling snow flurries and thick, grey skies usually don’t inspire vibrant jazz improvisations, but not even Pittsburgh’s weather dampened the mood Tuesday morning when a group of people  paraded down the new Mon Wharf Switchback — preceded by a few enthusiastic brass players.

Mayor Bill Peduto and and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald led the processional, which began in Station Square, crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge and descended to the Mon Wharf Landing located Downtown. Peduto and Fitzgerald marked the end of the walk with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to signify the opening of the long-awaited ramp.

The City of Pittsburgh and Riverlife, a nonprofit that promotes and enhances the city’s riverfronts, collaborated on the ramp, which offers cyclists and pedestrians a fully-lit, ADA-accessible, non-motorized connect to the Mon Wharf Landing, a linear park and trail that opened at the Mon Wharf in 2009. The city owns and will maintain the switchback.


“We are delighted to see this connection made for the region’s riverfront trails,” Fitzgerald says in a Riverlife press release. “Residents enjoy biking these trails, and will certainly welcome this long-awaited addition.”

The switchback has been on Riverlife’s agenda for nearly 20 years. The ramp will make walking and biking accessible to the wharf for “the first time in generations,” according to Peg McCormick Barron, Riverlife board chair. It also allows commuters to access Point State Park while forgoing the often-congested Fort Pitt Boulevard.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle believes the ramp will provide a safe way for commuters to bike to work in the city, creating less traffic and pollution.

“This project is a smart investment in Southwestern Pennsylvania’s infrastructure – and a win for all Pennsylvanians who live in our region or come to visit,” Doyle says.

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