New pathway to connect Southpointe with Montour Trail

Mike Jones

Nearly three decades ago, the first leg of the Montour Trail was constructed in Cecil Township, and since that time it’s expanded to become a 47-mile “necklace” around Pittsburgh, Montour Trail Council member Ned Williams said.

Now, the council is looking for “jewels” to connect to the popular biking and walking trail that meanders through suburban neighborhoods in Allegheny and Washington counties, Williams said.

“We’re trying to make connections and destinations all along the trail,” Williams said.

That happened in a big way Friday morning with a ceremonial groundbreaking to announce a 1,300-foot pathway that will connect the trail to Southpointe mixed-used business park in Cecil Township.

“It’s been a great partnership with the township all these years. The Montour Trail has grown and been successful,” Williams said before he and other dignitaries grabbed gold-plated shovels and heaped dirt onto a patch of land where the connector trail will begin.

The Southpointe Connector project has been discussed for the past decade, but began gaining momentum in 2019 as Cecil Township officials started working closely with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. The first phase will cost $150,000 to $200,000 and connect the Montour Trail near the Interstate 79 overpass with the township’s Klinger Park where the Southpointe Field House is located. Bids for the project are expected to be opened soon and construction could begin in July with the first phase being completed by the fall.

“This project has been a dream of ours for years,” said Cindy Fisher, chairwoman of the Cecil Township Board of Supervisors.

Jeff Kotula, who leads the Washington County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Promotion Agency, said the new path is a way to connect businesses and residential neighborhoods in Southpointe to recreational opportunities located just over the hillside on the Montour Trail.

“It’s about partnership and working together,” Kotula said.

The first phase, which was designed by Gateway Engineers, will include a 1,300-foot trail with switchbacks to ease the 8% grade of the pathway. There will also be two resting spots with benches for people who need to take a break from the climb. The project is being funded with a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, along with donations from Crown Castle, the Tourism Promotion Agency and the Washington County Authority.

Additional phases that will take the connector into the heart of Southpointe will be constructed later.