Dec 7: Public Meeting on West Carson Street Changes
Oh well, things like that often don’t work out the way we hope. But, I appreciate that you’ll continue the dialogue when/where you can.
No loud noises? Must have been a GOOD party! I almost wish I had the ability to send a virtual cymbal crash, or something! Ohh, that’s mean. Maybe a virtual aspirin, would be better? With lots of water?
So I rode home today on West Carson right through the area that was discussed here (and I must say, completely uneventful). A circumstance has taken place that completely disposes the alleged analysis that was done by the Penndot “consultant”.
A section of the roadway under discussion has actually started to collapse, so someone’s department of public works installed a section of concrete Jersey barriers along about a 300 yard section, narrowing W. Carson to one lane inbound and one lane outbound. The consultants contend that a bike or multi-use lane could not be created through here because 2 outbound lanes are necesary to maintain traffic flow.
These pics are taken at about 6:00 pm, today, Wednesday, March 21, 2012.
1. Right before the narrowing, outbound:
2. A little closer to the barriers, see the traffic congestion? No? Neither did I. I actually had to wait a minute just to get some cars in the picture:
3. From the other side looking back toward town, shows a little better the setup:
The space you can see behind the jersey barriers could effectively be a ped/bike lane the whole way from the West End Circle to McKees Rocks. So how do we get this stupid design rejected and a decent plan put in place?????
why not have the residences and businesses along west carson petition the city and penndot to install on street parking?
every business loves more parking than they’ll ever need, and the installation of the parking will include a protected bike/pedestrian lane to the corliss tunnel. an at-grade lane and/or extended sidewalk on the business/residence side of the street would heighten the probability that it will be maintained during inclement weather.
from the tunnel to the west end circle, maybe a user actuated crossing signal to a widened sidewalk along the northbound side.
diverting the conversation away from strictly bike/ped infrastructure and towards parking and traffic calming will allow pennDOT an opportunity to work with the city in a manner we ultimately believe should apply elsewhere and throughout the city.
@edmonds59 — This is pretty much off the top of my head and may require further thought, but it’s out here for consideration.
PennDOT is all about safety and bureaucrats being bureaucrats. I’m sure that have a bazillion things to justify their decision, from AADT to who knows what.
I’d consider studying the materials and information they used to formulate the plan with the idea of critically debunking it. I’m guessing that info should be available to the public since they use it in their public hearings they do for work lie this. Then I would also develop the alternative plan and support it with what materials you can develop to back it.
Hopefully they aren’t too far into their planning process to be wedded to whatever idea they hve at the moment.
@swalfoort, can you give some practical advice to Bill and anyone else interested here?
@sloaps — an interesting idea. The one problem I see with it if I understand the street layout correctly is safety issues no matter which side you park on. If you put the parking on the river side, then you have pedestrian traffic trying to cross 2-3 lanes of traffic. If you put it on the land side next to the buildings, then you have cars trying to cross 2-3 lanes of traffic to park facing the traffic flow. I don’t think PennDOT would consider that “safe”. But if there is some way to address those issues, it might be possible to come up with something like you propose.
Now that I think back I realize I mistated the consultants proposal – their design is actually for 1 lane in, 1 lane out, with a center turning lane. However, that is exactly the design that Penndot used on Steubenville Pike through Robinson, right up the hill from my house, and it has absolutely not improved safety. In fact, cars simply use the center turn lane as an illegal high speed passing lane to get past cars turning right. It’s awful.
@edmonds59 — I think you may have just found one of your arguments against their proposal.
1. PennDOT may not even be aware that is how the Steubenville Pike plan turned out and might be amenable to changing this plan if they were made aware of it.
2. Again, I’d want to see the studies/info they worked with to see if it addresses the kind of design issue you described.
Agreed. I’ve heard stories from my parents and others that back in the day Route 22 from Murrysville to like Ebensburg was the exact same two lanes plus center turning lane. It was notorious as a “death stretch” for folks using the middle lane as a high-speed passing lane and that occasionally resulted in horrendous high-speed head-to-head collisions in this way.
There is no way that a design like that is anything but archaic and unsafe, and that’s just for DRIVERS!
Story in PG today (gee, if only someone had thought of bike infra sooner)
McKees Rocks Chartiers Avenue revitalization nears construction phase…
The plan envisions better connections of the residential areas in McKees Rocks with the business district by adding new steps, walkways, and perhaps even a dedicated bike lane on West Carson Street.
“Bike infrastructure is critical to put us on the map,” Mr. Vrcek said.
While it is hard to read this in 2014, I have to give kudos to McKees Rocks CDC for really coming to the table in a big way. They have some really interesting development occurring right now, and more just around the corner. Fortunately, they are active partners with the ORTC, the County, Bike Pittsburgh and others and are clear in their expectations that pedestrian and bicycle improvements are part of these revitalization designs. We’ll see changes, and improvements in the walking and cycling experience in McKees Rocks. West Carson Street inbound from McKees Rocks will remain a nightmare, but there’s nothing to be done there while construction is underway (ironically.)
Re-reading this two months later, it occurs to me that not one but two of our own may have inside info on that proposal. I suspect that they’ve been sworn to radio silence. I won’t out them here, but it gives me joy to see the name of that design firm involved in the Rocks project.
That aside, the reason why I’m reviving this thread is that I thought of a very large idea that I’ve mentioned in other threads, which ties together some other large ideas that have been proposed. To wit:
* We’ve already discussed extending the Ohio River Trail from the Coraopolis end of the Montour Trail downstream. That’s a live project; no need to expound upon it here.
* We’ve also discussed at length, above in this thread as well as others, a means of getting from downtown to McKees Rocks along a not-yet-agreed-to routing, be it alongside West Carson or something else.
* I have previously proposed a trail from the south end of the Wabash Tunnel, to connect West Liberty Avenue and West Carson just downstream of the West End Circle.
To that, I further propose an on-street bike route from West Carson at River Avenue, through the Bottoms along Shingiss Street, continuing past the McKees Rocks Bridge along Nichol Ave, to Ohio Street, then crossing the abandoned footbridge across the tracks to Island Ave, where it would pick up existing routing over to Neville Island. The only real work would be in refurbishing the old footbridge. That it would bypass the main Rox business district could be a pro or a con. I see it as a pro, as it keeps bike traffic to low-use neighborhood streets
But if the whole thing was constructed:
* Ohio River Trail extension
* Trail to McKees Rocks
* Upper trail through McKees Rocks main business district
* Lower trail through McKees Rocks Bottoms
* Some sort of facility along West Carson
* Some sort of connection to upstream of 1600 WCarson, to GAP
* Path along old railroad right-of-way to south portal of Wabash, and to West Liberty Ave
* Bike access through Wabash
…then you have connected an entire quadrant of the county, with direct access to the city on two paths.
Is that all? “Some sort of facility along West Carson.” With current PennDot mentality that’s kind of equivalent to saying “all you need to get to Mars is, you know, some kind of rocket”.
I was being intentionally vague, just getting a list made. My wording. My point was that I think there is value in having a bike path of some sort through the Bottoms and over that dead bridge. If that bridge can be rebuilt on the same foundations, it would provide a handy way to get cyclists through the Rox without having to deal with the congestion of the town center, the trucks on most of Island Avenue, and the screwy corner by the bridge.
Opening that footbridge from Nichol Ave to Island Ave (Route 51) in McKees Rocks/Stowe would be great for bike-ped transportation! It’s currently closed at both ends, and quite overgrown with vegetation. It’s called the Preston Bridge: http://www.historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=pennsylvania/mckeespedestrian/
Is W. Carson St. ever going to be re done to an acceptable standard? I have noticed there are several inbound bus stops with no outbound counterparts. an example is in this link
- This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by zzwergel.
West Carson will be done well – As soon as bike transportation becomes a real priority. Maybe in 2025 or so. When they last modified the W carson/ W.E. Bridge intersection, PennDot gave us the finger.
Ohhhh, this thread. I re-read the first page and I want to cry. This thread is the history of how PennDOT screwed over the cycling community, and the taxpayers, in such a big way.
To be clear, the “Dec 7” is from six years ago.
What was the final tally on cost? I recall $42 million being mentioned. If accurate, then more than double the original budget estimate of $20 million. And what did we end up with? An unusable road for cycling.
I would love to do a bike traffic count for all day on West Carson, to see if anyone bikes this corridor, ever. Even if on the sidewalk. I would also like to see a summary of traffic crashes since opening day in 2015. I would further like to see a sampling of traffic speeds along various stretches. I’m not out there every week or every day like I was six, seven years ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still a 45-50 mph cattle chute.
And lastly, I don’t see anything changing on this road in a generation.
@stu, the road reopened last year. It was supposed to be open in 2015, but the project fell behind schedule, bigly.
I’m on this road when I go to work, taking the 21 bus. Some observations:
- I do see cyclists and pedestrians on the sidewalk. Not counting the Dennis Flanagan memorial ride, I think I’ve only seen one cyclist on the road, going inbound after the West Busway entrance. Riding inbound is a little easier, since it’s slightly downhill.
- Drivers habitually exceed the 35 mph speed limit, especially in the section between the West Busway and the West End Circle. PennDOT put up digital speed checks a few months ago in several spots. Some drivers (including my regular bus driver) slow down to the speed limit whenever they see these. Others don’t. By the way, these signs, which run on solar power and batteries, have run out of batteries already.
- The outbound merge lane after the West End Circle is too long, and drivers sometimes treat as a passing lane.
Long story short, this road is not safe for cycling.
Once the legislation for radar speed enforcement gets passed, I think city police (On bicycle) should frequent this stretch of road and write tickets to anyone traveling over the speed limit. Also, reducing the speed limit to 25 or 30 MPH would also be a good idea since fast travel is completely unnecessary because of the traffic lights. If someone wants fast travel, stick to the Parkway and Rt. 65 where it is unlikely to find cyclists and pedestrians as well as no traffic lights.
Speed cameras are not happening before 2020. Speed enforcement on West Carson any other way will not happen, ever. A redesign? We can have a friendly bet as to whether that or a subway extension will happen sooner. I wouldn’t guess any sooner than 2030.
Back in this thread is my letter to Mr. Cessna at PennDOT when the final design was chosen. That was 2013, and IIRC I was guessing 20 years from then, so 2033.
Place your bets accordingly.
PennDot should install speed cameras so the State Police can write tickets and have them mailed to the vehicle owners house. Does anyone know where to exit the outbound bus for access to Esplen and Corliss St. since there are no bus stops on that side of the road?
- W. Carson St. at Tabor St.
- W. Carson St. at Saginaw St.
- W. Carson St. at Earl St.
- W. Carson St. at Glenmawr Ave.
- W. Carson St. at Corliss Tunnel NS
- W. Carson St. at West End Bridge Steps
- W. Carson St. opp. Busway Ramp FS
Inbound and outbound
- Stranhope St. at W. Carson St NS/Stranhope St. at W. Carson St. FS
- W. Carson St. opp Gateway View Plaza/W. Carson St at Gateway View Plaza
- W. Carson St. at Fort Pitt Bridge/W. Carson St opp Duquesne Incline
- This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by zzwergel.
You could get off at the next outbound stop after your destination, then take an inbound bus. Four routes travel that way, so at some times of day the wait might not be too bad.
Or walk, if your destination is close enough and there’s a sidewalk to it. The walk from 95% of Esplen over to Stanhope is less than the walk from, say, a random spot in neighboring Sheridan to the nearest bus stop. A random spot in Esplen is probably a quarter mile on foot from Stanhope, ignoring that Powell Street section.
How much use do these bus stops get? Is Rt. 51 safer for biking once it leaves W. Carson St. into McKees Rocks?
- This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by zzwergel.
Once you get to Stanhope St, it’s back to the usual. Though at the north end of the Rox, using Neville Island is much preferable to staying on 51. For that matter, you can avoid much of the commercial district of the Rox by staying straight at Stanhope and turning across the tracks to River Ave.
But as to West Carson, I have no recent data on bike usage, either direction, any time of day or day of the week. Nor do I have any recent, reliable data on traffic speeds. I would rather this thread focus on that.
Today, I did see one eastbound cyclist near Gateway View Plaza. I also noticed that the sidewalk switches sides at the Busway entrance which is also at the top of a hill. I suppose I could cross the West End Bridge sidewalk and get on the sidewalk of W. Carson St to climb the hill. Upon reaching the Busway, hit the beg button so traffic will stop, wait for the walk signal, and get in the lane to descend the hill into Esplen.
Does the sidewalk on the WEB or W. Carson St. have glass on it?
- This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by zzwergel.
It’s common to see bikes on W. Carson near Gateway View Plaza. It’s far less common to see them on the outer side of the West End Circle.
PennDOT’s plan was to have bikes use the driving lane of West Carson all the way to McKees Rocks, and that’s what got built, and signed. They totally expect you to use it in its current form.
Nine days after it opened, a man got killed on a bike trying to cross from one sidewalk to the other, at the very spot you mentioned.
I thought they were planning to put sharrows in as a half-assed accomodation. They didn’t even do that. I’m glad they didn’t though, as it would probably be worse to entice lesser abled cyclists to this corridor.
I do not see sharrows on StreetView which was shot in October 2016, after the road was re-opened. I do see one “Share the road” sign, just before the busway turn, outbound.
At this point, StreetView preserves the remnant blood spot and the police’s paint markings from where the cyclist got killed.
There is another Share the road sign here:
If these signs were dismantled and at least five Bikes may use full lane signs in each direction erected along with sharrows and green paint near the intersections, would that help at all?
No. Emphatically, no. Signs don’t mean a thing.
Maybe I’m too jaded, but I look at West Carson as a lost cause. It took almost 60 years to re-do the road at all after pulling out the Point Bridge, other than pave over the trolley tracks. I fear that the total absence of cyclists along there, PennDOT sees as a success, not a failure.
This is not the only thread on the message board about West Carson. There was another right after the man was killed. You might find some ideas in that which are still worth pursuing.
There is zero guarantee that a radar bill will pass this year. They’ve been introduced every year for decades and every Jan 1 at 12:01 am they die. Same will probably happen this year
Someone is organizing a petition to try to get this through. Anybody here who hasn’t already should sign it. This could help.
Here’s the link I posted: https://www.bikepgh.org/message-board/topic/please-sign-petition-to-allow-local-police-to-use-radar/
I’ve been regularly seeing a tall guy on a gray Surly commuting into town thru the ‘Rocks and down W. Carson around 8 am. You on here? If so, kudos.
(Cross-posting here from another topic, for continuing discussion)
I rode to work today for the first time in ages. The route involved using West Carson St between downtown and Mckees Rocks, and then following PA51 through the Rocks/Stowe until crossing over into Neville Island. Some notes:
- I took the sidewalk pretty much all the way to Mckees Rocks. There’s a few bad spots near/under the West End bridge, where the sidewalk is crumbling, and there are no ADA curb ramps. There is also a lot of overgrowth in some spots, first near the West End bridge, and then past Glen Mawr St. It almost forces you to dismount. I debated going on the road once I got past the West Busway ramp, since that section has that ridiculously long turning lane, but decided otherwise. Sigh…
- Once in the Rocks, I went on the road the rest of the way. Island Ave was fine, except for one muddy spot on the right where I should have taken the lane.
- The Neville Island bike lane was OK for the most part, but it needs to be swept. Allegheny County was running a sweeper last year on it last year, but I haven’t seen it or any evidence that it has been there recently.
I reported the overgrowth on West Carson to PennDOT. We’ll see if anything comes out of that. I’ll report the crappy sidewalks near the West End bridge to 311, though this might be a PennDOT issue, too. I’ll also request sweeping to Allgheny County for Neville Island. Fingers crossed…
I think this is the famous conundrum —
Penndot – sidewalks are maintained by the city
City – sidewalks are maintained by Penndot
And nothing ever gets done about this. There have been yearly summer complaints about overgrowth in that section.
This would be a perfect issue for the peds-bike coordinator to take up, along with maintenance of other split county/state-city sidewalks — bridges, Butler street right off the HPB, etc. However, I’ve emailed her many, many times over the years and have never gotten a response.
If she’s not an advocate for this, I’m not sure anyone can get anything done with this other than cutting it ourselves. (and cleaning up the sidewalks ourselves)
Update: I heard back from PennDOT. Their inspector called me back and said he had gone out to check the area, but said that unless it’s a roadway issue, then the city is responsible for maintaining it (i.e. the sidewalk on West Carson St.). He recommended putting in a 311 request, which I did. To be continued…
With all due respect, rather than the bicycle coordinator, who has her hands full dealing with planning, I’d suggest contacting the council representative for that area. I think you’ll have better luck. At least, you should get a response. They have people who are paid to respond to citizen complaints. Even better if you are a local resident or employed in the district.
That is District 2, Theresa Kail-Smith.
Jill Nolan Harris, Constituent Services Liason
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