Dec 7: Public Meeting on West Carson Street Changes
I got to the meeting later than I had expected, but was pleasantly surprised to see such a large number of cyclists on the sign in sheet.
I thought the display boards at the meeting were the worst I’ve ever seen at this sort of meeting. Really, they told you nothing. You had to ASK for a description of the project.
I’ll see if I can round up something more complete in the way of a project description. In the meantime, you can still provide written comments on this project until December 31st. The official line of communiciation is through the consultant JMT, in Coraopolis. The Project Manager is David Cooper. Comments may also be submitted to Guy Rettura, P.E., at PennDOT District 11 in Bridgeville.
Putting 35 mph signs on West Carson, before or after rebuild, is about as pointless as putting 25 mph signs on Bigelow between the Bloomfield Bridge and Frank Curto Park. Maybe more pointless, because on Bigelow there’s space for a cop to sit and patrol speeders. As pinky points out, cops cannot even patrol West Carson.
West Carson is a flume ride.
There. #1 is W.Carson from W.E.C. to the Coliss tunnell, #2 is the foot of the western W.E.C. ramp at W. Carson. That took me about 15 minutes. If I had another 15 I could redesign the rest. Where should I send these?
A “center left turn lane” from W.E.C. to the Corliss tunnel is complete nonsense. What are you going to turn into, the cliff or the railroad tracks?
Sara, do you think calls to Nick Kotik’s office would be of any use? If nothing else, I think there are serious concerns about the execution of the public review process.
@edmonds – only if you actually want to influence the design…..
so yes, bring him in.
Love your drawings, Except wait….. there are no pedestrians along the river side in the vicinity of the Corliss tunnel. All pedestrians (and sidewalks) will be relocated from the river side to the hill side just past the West Busway entrance. Mandatory pedestrian crossing (barely marked) just as cars enter the chute.)
I didn’t think to include this in my comments last night, but I think that may also mean no outbound bus stops between the West Busway and McKees Rocks. Unless they just have passenger refuges in key locations, there will be no sidewalk outbound to accomodate them.
I took pics of my comments, but they’re almost unreadable. I ran out of time; they were packing up the easels as I was still writing, so I never really finished. Will try to transcribe them later.
“…bus stops…Unless they just have passenger refuges in key locations,…”
JMT actually did think to include those, I have to give them that.
The shelter and stop at the Duquesne Incline isn’t horrid, though it does pinch the sidewalk uncomfortably. After last night’s meeting, I was biking inbound on the outbound sidewalk (headed for the Ft Pitt Bridge walkway), and took special care there in case anyone was waiting just outside the shelter.
Not ideal, but workable.
I have a much bigger problem with the stairs (and people using them there) than the bus shelter.
I don’t know if it is accurate or not, but it seems as though people waiting for the bus know there is a decent amount of traffic that goes by on that sidewalk on the daily (or however often) occurrence they are waiting.
On the other hand, I have had peds have NO idea what is going on there as they go from stairs down to the parking lot, despite endless bell ringing and/or shouting (politely). On one or two occasions I have had to contra-flow on the road (terrifying)
Thanks everyone who turned out to speak up, and a huge thanks to Sara for alerting us to this meeting.
I’m going to be writing PennDOT District-11 a letter and a letter to the editor of the PG in response to their article in today’s paper that call the bicycle designs an “improvement.” I encourage others to do the same.
Done for the PG. Here’s mine:
West Carson Street Reconstruction Prizes Speed for Safety
In Thursday’s edition, writer Jon Schmitz writes that the reconstruction of West Carson Street will include “improvements for bicyclists” and that the “configuration is designed to reduce crashes.” Unfortunately, from the point of view of this bicyclist, pedestrian, bus commuter, and driver, the new configuration prizes speed over safety.
Though West Carson Street is posted at a 35 m.p.h. speed limit, traffic flow regularly reaches 50 to 55 m.p.h., despite the current poor conditions of the pavement. The project design provides zero additions to slow and calm traffic, which is a major safety issue in this narrow corridor. Additionally, we cannot depend on police enforcement of speed since the configuration doesn’t allow for a shoulder for a car to pull over.
Sharing the road with traffic traveling 20 m.p.h. over the speed limit is not an improvement for bicyclists or drivers. We must do more to reduce traffic fatalities and make the western Pittsburgh neighborhoods accessible to all forms of transportation.
if only we could convince people that increased speed doesn’t actually increase traffic flow. i wonder how many people will read that (wonderful) letter and dismiss it because clearly this is someone who doesn’t care about traffic jams.
“RE: West Carson Street to receive a $20 million makeover; I attended the public presentation of this project in the West End Wednesday night. I live in Robinson Township and work downtown, so I am extremely familiar with the route under discussion. I found the design presented by PennDot’s consultants, JMT, to be completely inadequate. The design includes absolutely the least possible measures to slow traffic through this literally deadly corridor. There is no reasonable justification for maintaining two lanes of outbound traffic toward McKees Rocks, it is exactly that which encourages drivers to treat this route as a high speed thru-way, and not the 35 mph local street that it is. Pedestrian and bicycle “improvements” through this incredibly important corridor are cursory at best, and beyond inadequate.
To allow this project to proceed without major revisions to the design would be an enormous failure of opportunity, and a shameful misuse of 20 million dollars.”
On 12/7, I attended a PennDOT meeting to discuss plans for rebuilding West Carson Street from the West End Circle to McKees Rocks. That some work must be done is not negotiable. West Carson itself will fall into Chartiers Creek if the aged, crumbling bridge it crosses near the West End Circle is not replaced, and soon. The problem is where to stop. This stretch of road has seen no real work since the 1950s, so everything is broken, breaking, inadequate or unsafe.
The plans call for a simple rebuild, with on-street sharrows for bicycles. That simply does not work on that kind of road. Bicycling McKnight Road is safer; I’ve done it. The proposal is scary and inherently unsafe. We deserve better.
Since there is not money, vision, nor the political will to do the right thing, I suggest we just replace the failing bridge. It would be better to leave a bad situation bad than to rebuild and label it “good” for another 50 years. Redo the rest when we can think straight.
I finally get a minute to stick my head above water, and was excited to read the PG article… then sad to read this thread.
Why can’t we just be as smart as we are? Why can’t the state just do the right thing? It’s not a secret to have smart designs. It’s not proprietary to have good infrastructure. It’s not even illegal (mostly). So why do we keep having to fight this same fight?
SSDD, Ej. Just have to keep on swinging.
There is an ingrained institution here, Penndot, surrounded by a constellation of supporting institutions of “Traffic Engineering Consultants” that are not often prone to changing the mother institution due to ties of propriety and cash money. So it is a constant grinding process to move this behemoth a fraction.
Oh, if only Mia Birk would descend into this morass and save us, on her glowing white bike and diaphanous Showers Pass (Tm) raingear! I suppose we just have to do it .
I haven’t been able to follow this closely, but putting a sidewalk up against the hillside sounds like a loser to me. Any water seeping from the hill will tend to collect and make ice & it will be in constant shadow so it won’t melt unless it is constantly salted which will cause the concrete to deteriorate. With road maintenance being squat in our area it will also tend to be covered with gravel and broken glass and become impassable. Hmm, sounds like the current situation with the sidewalk on the river side. Nevermind.
Makes you want to rethink the whole way we do this kind of work, doesn’t it? Right here in this thread we have not just cyclists, but transit users, pedestrians, regular car commuters, often multiple modes in just one user. Even I hadn’t thought about the north-facing wall. (Thanks, Marko!) But you’re right, *any* sort of path within four feet of that wall is dead space — the usual glass and gravel and road kill, but also ice anytime it’s sub-freezing.
Diaphanously clad bike ad ladies notwithstanding, we can design a better road — nay, corridor — for free, right here on this message board! And pretty much have!
Maybe if we charged $100K for our services, they’d take us seriously. We’re getting nowhere giving it away for free.
Water coming off the cliff is a serious issue that could and should be addressed as a part of this project. It could be resolved with a simple drainage design, but I don’t know that the highly paid consultants have adressed that in their work.
Marko, wanna split the design fee, of $0?
Mm, Arlington, sounds nice, but if I ever leave the ‘burgh it’s going to require a lot more palm trees and salt water than the Potomac has to offer.
Hey Edmounds, I’ll split the consulting fees with you as long as OTB has a beer special going on. This shouldnt be that hard, didnt Romans build multipurpose roads? Ya know, Ox carts AND donkey carts – not to mention those guys in skirts (sorry Reddan).
Swalfoort – would you have time or feel comfortable outlining what you know of the history of this project on here? You mentioned that there was a previous SPC bike/ped meeting, what expectations were there, where this this is in process, abbreviated announcement of meeting times, that sort of thing. Or just PM me. I would like to make some phone calls.
@Edmonds, I’ll try to pull something together this morning.
The PG just called. They’re going to run my letter. I made a couple of tweaks to what I said above, but it’s pretty much the same.
I agree with the assessment that the sidewalk will be debris-ridden in mere months. Will there be no sort of retaining wall at all along the hillside then?
Maybe alternatively if part of this plan there should be an agreement at the very least to clear this sidewalk at least on a MONTHLY basis by the city, PennDOT or whoever.
Stu’s letter is in the paper today http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11348/1196598-110-2.stm
The only sticking point I have with Stu’s letter is that it opens up the possibility in the Mind of the General Public that the project should be scaled back to a minimal scope. This project needs to be done and done right. Otherwise, excellent!
Swalfoort, our company holiday party is this afternoon and there is the possiblility that I will have the undivided attention of a direct aide to one of our Congressmen. Any recommendations as to approach, other than things I have previously stated? And, briefly, what was the recommendation of the SPC Bike/Ped review? Thanks!
@edmonds, “Any recommendations as to approach..” Yeah, don’t choke the guy. Just say’n.
@Edmonds, crap. I forgot. I started a long post in response to your last post, but lost it in cyberspace. I’ll redo it in Word and cut and paste it here in the next couple of minutes.
Edmonds – it’s too long to post here. Can you send me you email address via PM? Thanks!
Nevermind! I was able to google it and get the information I needed. Check your work email.
sara – you can make it a google doc and then post the link. if you don’t have a google account, just send me the doc and i can do it
Here’s what I *don’t* want to have happen. Please follow along to the sequence; it’s not an itemized list.
1. The bridge is failing, so we have to do something.
2. The whole road is in rotten shape, so we should fix it, too, since we have to partially close it to do the bridge work.
3. There’s $70M of work that *could* be done along there but we only have $20M to work with. (Picking a number out of the sky, way beyond $20M, anyway.)
4. We know we have to do this-this-and-this to make it truly usable, but that’s going to have to wait for another $50M to come along.
5. So we do the $20M work.
6. We can no longer consider anything in this whole corridor for any real improvement for DECADES because “we just worked on that.”
Yes, I am indeed saying, cut the scope back to minimal. Leave it broken.
If you think you can get through to a congressman or anyone at PennDOT that the project plans are worse than doing nothing, please do, and more power to you.
Let’s instead devise a vision of what that corridor should be. How CAN my 12-year-old kid bike from McKees Rocks to some event at Station Square or thereabouts? Unless and until we can talk intelligently about that, then do nothing beyond fixing the broken bridge.
After the 12/7 meeting, I biked all the way from the meeting site in the West End to Federal and Henderson on the North Side in only about 15 minutes. It’s amazing how quickly and easily you can get around by bike. But West Carson is scary, and that includes the part they just redid a couple years ago, from Ft Pitt Br to WEC.
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