As part of a $3 million park renovation project, two trails in Riverview Park will get makeovers early this spring.

The 975-foot-long Mairdale Trail and the 3,746-foot-long Bob Harvey Trail will be reengineered and resurfaced to prevent erosion and improve sustainability.

The federal grant will allow the Parks Conservancy and Citiparks to renovate trails across Riverview, Schenley, Frick and Highland Park, as well as provide for improved signage in all four areas.

Work has already begun in Schenley Park, and once the Schenley crew finishes, it will start on Riverview. Gruzka said the work depends on the weather, but he estimated they would start on the trails in late March or early April.

“We’re trying to get as much of this done during the winter months … to have a minimum impact on park users,” Gruzka said.

The Parks Conservancy is working alongside Citiparks, as well as Public Works and all the park foremen on the project.

“These guys are really great,” Gruzka said, “It is a really dedicated staff. They’re out there on a daily basis just getting it done.”

The conservancy chose which trails to renovate based on which ones caused the most problems after storms or heavy rainfalls.

The Mairdale Trail is entirely on a hill, and gravel washes down it even with only a small rain. The Bob Harvey trail sits on a hill between two roads, and two large landslides have occurred between them in the past seven years.

After each rainstorm, Riverview Park Foreman Bob Lacki and his crew have to go out and “drag” the trails to rearrange the gravel washed away by the water.

In order to make the trails less susceptible to erosion and bad weather, the conservancy looks at the soil and the way water moves through it. It also looks at infrastructure such as drainage pipes and inlets.

“Quite often we find that the original infrastructure is broken,” Gruzka said.

For example, an inlet might collect water, but the pipes that would transport it safely down a hill are broken.

Once they’ve determined what a trail needs, they can reengineer a trail by putting larger rocks underneath of it that allow for better water movement, replace old drainpipes or pitch the trail surface so water will roll off gently.

“We’re always looking to dissipate water whenever we could,” rather than funneling it through pipes or drains, Gruzka said.

Many of the original park trails were not planned, and instead were made by a large number of people walking the same path over the years. Citiparks or Public Works would then dump gravel on the trail, making it “official.”

Those kinds of trails lack infrastructure of any kind, and are particularly susceptible to erosion and storm damage.

Once the trails have been reengineered and resurfaced, workers will come back in the spring to plant herbaceous plants and trees.

“The best way to contain storm water is to have a good vegetation cover,” Gruzka said.

For more information and updates on renovation progress, please follow the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy blog at http://pittsburghparks.wordpress.com/category/trail-and-signage-project/.  For more information, and for maps of trail closures, please visit the Parks Conservancy website, www.pittsburghparks.org/trailsandsigns.