Mon/Fayette Special Edition: Nine Mile Run Watershed Association

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Nine Mile Run Watershed Association

Hotline, Fall 2001

by Kathy McGregor, President, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association

The Nine Mile Run Watershed Association resolves that:

We are deeply concerned about current projections regarding the route of the proposed Mon/Fayette Expressway, particularly regarding the suggestion that it run along the north shore of the Monongahela River, across the mouth of Nine Mile Run (NMR). Setting aside, for the moment, any misgivings we may have about the economic utility of the project as a whole, we urgently ask that such plans be reconsidered.

There is an irony in the timing of the proposed route and the recent transfer of part of the NMR valley to public recreational use as part of Frick Park, part of Pittsburgh’s largest wild area. The mouth of the NMR is currently a popular fishing spot and one of the most popular places in the city to watch birds and view wildlife. A peregrine falcon, pair of belted kingfishers, common loon and muskrat are just a few of the sightings just in the last year at Nine Mile Run’s mouth — the mouth of the last significant stream in the city with any substantial unculverted segment emptying into our rivers.

The potential of the site for public river access is currently unlimited, but its quality would be severely degraded if it were to be underneath a superhighway. Noise, shade and air and salt and other pollution runoff would reduce the amount and types of plants and animals that could live there and replace what might otherwise, with only a modest investment, become one of the premier attractions for people who want to fish, bird watch, botanize and generally recreate and appreciate the beauty of nature in the tranquility of a recovering riverside.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century it is anachronistic to adhere to the discredited idea, popular in the last century, that wild, undeveloped land has no value. This is true for the length of visually unbroken green riverside that runs along the north shore of the Mon from the city boundary through to Oakland. And, our parks, as much as anything else in Pittsburgh, contribute positively to our city’s attractiveness and appeal. Our regret in hearing the proposal to run a questionably needed spur of the Mon/Fayette Expressway up the north shore of the Mon River is compounded by the fact that a huge chunk of Frick Park was taken fifty years ago, when environmental consciousness was dim, to put the Parkway East over Nine Mile Run a half mile or so from the Monongahela River. Now another highway project is proposed to further degrade the integrity of one of our’s city’s prime green jewels. We find this unacceptable.

There is reason to believe that the south shore has significantly less biodiversity than the north. If a highway is deemed necessary, it should run on the south side of the river until it safely passes Nine Mile Run and the green city hillsides on the north of the Mon.