Detour to start on Eliza Furnace/Jail Trail

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gimpPAC
Participant
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On the same website BikeyGirl cited, I saw this project, for light rail: http://monvalleyhelp.com/project/light-rail-spine-line-homestead

Now it’s a little less than the Mon-Fayette project which is still possibly beyond our means, but I feel is a lot more useful to alleviate our city traffic issues and diversify transportation options. If ever the M/FE project would look like it was a possibility, I would want to shove this proposal into their face and say, what happened to THIS project?


sloaps
Participant
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Spine Line?! That’s not new and neither is the idea… too bad it didn’t work, twice.

Check out pile of policy docs for the rest.


Impala26
Participant
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Anyone going to the dedication thing today at noon?


erok
Keymaster
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if so, there is a last minute location change:

WHEN: 12 noon, Monday, October 3

Location Change!

Due to the high probability of rain, we will be moving the event to Technology Drive. We will just block off a portion of the road and our background will be the entire project. We will have a commemorative ribbon to cut.

Please park on Technology Drive.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Someone pleeeease video this. I’d like to find out who says anything about anything other than the bridge or trail itself.


Marko82
Participant
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So this new bridge that was built for cyclist & walkers, even though the walkers & cyclist were perfectly happy with the old bridge, is being dedicated a few hundred yards from the actual bridge because the politicians would half to walk too far from their cars in the rain because the new bridge for walkers & cyclist no longer connects the street (Bates) directly to the bridge. I’m so glad they improved everything for the walkers & cyclists.

Honestly, I’m glad they redid the bridge and this intersection. This has been a vehicle choke point for decades and was in need of a fix. As a car driver I hope it makes traffic flow smoother and safer. But if they dedicate this as somehow contributing to Pittsburgh’s bike infrastructure they are just blowing smoke.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Politicians need a dose of Rule #5, the poor dears.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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The bridge was replaced to better serve the truck traffic that passes beneath it. I guess if they really wanted to be pricks about it, the could have just tore it down. It seems to me they didn’t have to replace it at all, so I’m not sure why the tone, Marko?


salty
Participant
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“Not being pricks” is not the same as “doing something for the cyclists” – what was there was fine, and in some ways better, for us.

As long as it doesn’t come down to “well, we can’t give you money for <biking improvement X> because we spent all that money on that bridge”, or “look at all we’ve done for bicycling”, etc. I don’t care too much. But, I’m way too cynical to believe that’s not going to happen, possibly behind closed doors.


Marko82
Participant
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ALMKLM, I guess I should hold my sarcasm until after I hear the politic’s speeches. But the ‘tone’ is because most people will look at this as spending several million dollars towards BIKE infrastructure instead of CAR/TRUCK infrastructure. True, they probably could have torn all this up without replacing the bridge, but they didn’t do this project for us cyclists – in fact it made the connection to Bates more difficult.

Last week I had three separate discussions with people about how putting bike racks on busses is a total ‘waste of money’. I can see these same people reacting to this bridge the same way – just like Sen. Coburn wants to remove what little funding there is. And unlike the bus racks, this bridge is no improvement for non-motorized transportation.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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@salty – It strikes me that this project is primarily about the traffic BENEATH the bridge, not the trail atop it. The biking/trail aspect is completely secondary, in that regard. And I guess I don’t follow the infrastructure grape vine closely enough to be able to say whether this has been promoted as bike or rails-trails infrastructure.

I agree, however, it would be a shame for an already critical slice of the public to view this as “more public money wasted on bicycles.”

But as far as “not being pricks” vs. “doing something for cyclists,” i’m not sure that describes the dynamic here. That would suppose leaving the bridge as it was as an option, and clearly the previous bridge was THE problem (for vehicular traffic underneath).


HiddenVariable
Participant
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i think the concern is that someone somewhere (that is normally opposed to our collective wills, such as they are) will say “look how much we’re doing for you!” with the reopening of this trail. while we’re all very happy to be able to use it again, to claim that it was done for us after removing a perfectly adequate bridge (for us), and replacing it with one that is arguably less valuable (to us), and removing our access to it for over a year, well, that’s a bit much to take, isn’t it?


Mick
Participant
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Shortly after the Veterans Bridge/I-279 was done, the mayor of Pittsburgh, Tom Murphy, was investing heavily in Cranberry Township real estate. Made millions.

His “#1 priority” at the time was revitalizing downtown.

Right.

If the MFE goes through, there is plenty of money to be made in real estate in Fayette, Washington, and Green counties.

Basically, the driving force behind the expresway is not only the money to be made constructing it, but also a similar level of profit to be made in real estate speculation and construction.

If the MFE construction starts looking inevitable, I might purchase land adjacent to the GAP or Sheepskin Rail-Trail in some location with OK access to the MFE. The price of that land won’t go down when there MFE is completed. There is bound to be some options like Edward M’s plan (only not half-assed “triple cheap cabins” in a lot without a sewage plan).

Ex-urb land close to the MFE will not be getting cheaper.

It mades sense to me that if* they do the MFE that they would use the Bates Street Valley for access to the east end.

*Doesn’t mean I support the MFE. Just that some of the plans they had made no sense at all at the Pittsburgh end. Like now, for example.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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Hm. A bit much to take? I dunno, if they had NOT replaced the bridge at all. Saved all of that money. That might have been a bit much to take for trail users.

Maybe I’m changing my mind here: I’m starting to think that the fact they DID replace the bridge represents an enormous trail infrastructure investment (whether we like the finished product or not). They didn’t have to replace the bridge: their goals were higher clearance and more lanes. But they chose to respect the trail and replace the bridge.

(Now I’m sure there is some contract language somewhere requiring the maintenance or replacement of the bridges beneath the trail… and IF the bridge was replaced with satisfying THAT requirement in mind, then again, this is, at least in part, a trails infrastructure investment.)

So, yeah, I guess I’ve done a 180 on this one.


jeg
Participant
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Thanks to the location change I actually got to *use* the bridge in the middle of the day! Woohoo! Can’t say I’m sad to see that detour go…


reddan
Keymaster
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I think I’ll swing over that way in a few minutes myself…be nice to *ahem* check out the new bridge in daylight.


Marko82
Participant
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I don’t mean to be overly negative about this project; it’s just that I don’t think it does anything for trail users.

As an alternative to replacing this bridge they could have gradually sloped the trail down to street level on each side of the road and put in a crosswalk for the cyclist and walkers to use. I bet this would have saved $1M easy. Yea this would be inconvenient for cyclist heading straight into town, but if they would have promised to use that saved $1M for some meaningful BIKE infrastructure I think I could live with the crosswalk.

With my limited one day tour of DC last year, they had many at-grade road crossings and narrower than usual sections of trails, but I think they have many more miles of trails because they didn’t build million dollar bridges everywhere.


salty
Participant
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I don’t see how you “did a 180”, it sounds more like you just validated exactly what you were thinking from the start. But, you’re right, we’re a bunch of babies for whining about it instead of being grateful that we didn’t get screwed over.


Impala26
Participant
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Yeah, I think this is the problem when we get too many cynics in one place…

Frankly, I haven’t heard any gripes from non-bike people yet, so it seems like we might just be blowing smoke. I’m just a bit upset that direct access to the trail from Bates Street wasn’t taken into account, given that it existed prior to the new bridge.


Jacob McCrea
Participant
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For what it’s worth, one of my closest friends was sad to see the old bridge go. He owns one of the few local auto body and heavy truck shops big enough to fix the endless tractors, trailers, box trucks, etc. that routinely got wedged under the old bridge. That bridge was a factor in a lot of good work over the last 2 decades, and will be sadly missed by at least one person!

Also for what it’s worth, I’m surprised that they didn’t just demolish the old bridge and put up a permanent detour given the prevailing economic conditions. Anyway, the lack of access from Bates Street is unfortunate, but IMHO doesn’t outweigh the upside – part of which is that it is much less likely that the trail will be turned into an on-ramp for the MFX.


ieverhart
Participant
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I just stopped by the finished project site and was almost delirious with rage. They disrupted hundreds/thousands of cyclists for a year, spent millions and removed a VERY useful access point, all to bail out some incompetent truckers and to clear the way for a boondoggle that will likely never get built? The Bates Street entrance was arguably the easier to get to than either of the trails’ other access points and now it is just that much more like the many loathsome “trails” that go from

nowhere to nowhere.

Two thumbs down.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I suppose I should go over there myself and check it out, but I just don’t get over there that often, and for that matter I’ve never had the need to use Bates on two wheels.

So, if they were to do something to remedy this, what should they do? Would a simple staircase on the uphill side be sufficient? Sure we’d like an ADA-accessible ramp, but simple/cheap/fast works for me.


dbacklover
Participant
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Checked it out today. was coming across the hot-bra (i mean hot metal) bridge to ride the trail and there was a guy counting bikers and walkers. Bridge looks nice but I never rode it before so I can’t say if it is better or worse.


ieverhart
Participant
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So, if they were to do something to remedy this, what should they do? Would a simple staircase on the uphill side be sufficient?

A staircase would resolve some of the issues, though it would require a dismount for cyclists. It is a pretty steep hill and I doubt there is enough room to do a path even with switchbacks. I walked down and back up a steep grassy slope but it was bad enough as is and in any kind of bad weather or loaded down, it would be dangerous.

Like so many things, retrofitting this to include a staircase or other access option will be way more difficult or expensive than just having designed the thing correctly the first time. (Actually, I will take the position that the thing was designed correctly the first time; that is, the bridge they demolished last year was totally adequate.)


Impala26
Participant
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@stu

My IDEAL fix (Option A) would be to install an ADA compliant ramp from the Bates Street sidewalk (west side of street) up to the trail between the trail and parkway. To be perfectly honest, I do not think this would be prohibitively expensive because earth would simply be need to be moved/graded and pavement added. No actual ramp structure or anything need be built in the area I just described.

EDIT: (The amount of earth that would have to be moved/grade at this location to make an ADA compliant ramp could make this cost-prohibitive from my calculations.)

Alternatively, (Option B) a staircase with a guide rail for bikes could be constructed along side the trail bridge connecting to the same sidewalk either between the trail and parkway or between the trail and Second Ave.

To effectively compare the costs these two options one would need to figure out roughly how much earth would need to be moved for Option A and how much a staircase structure (Option B) with an approx. 14-15 foot vertical rise would cost.

But all this begs the same question: both of these options are practically miniscule in cost compared to the entirety of the project, so why weren’t they just part of the project to begin with? Now that all the equipment is gone from the site, the same task would now be likely twice as much.

Sorry, my civil engineering geekiness is showing…


erok
Keymaster
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i was pretty pissed too when i saw it. i feel like i was misled in a way as to what it was going to be like once complete. i was under the assumption that the entrance would be just to the right, not like a quarter mile to the right. i couldn’t believe that with the amount of money that they got for this project that this was the best they could do. what a wasted opportunity.


chinston
Participant
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I shake my head every time I’ve ridden the new bridge – just a thoughtless design, totally failing to take into account the natural, normal behavior and needs of cyclists and pedestrians. Clueless.


sloaps
Participant
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@Impala for Option A, wouldn’t the west abutment for the I-376 bridge and the new trail bridge need extended as retaining walls over the entire length of a slip ramp?

If a new ramp starting from the bates street sidewalk and ending on trail grade were to meet ADA and the elevation change is ~20ft, then that ramp length would be between 250ft and 400ft for a slip ramp between 1:12 and 1:20 – depending on ADA compliance.

That’s a long ramp, with two long retaining walls founded on drilled foundations. Probably cost as much as the new trail bridge.


Impala26
Participant
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@sloaps

Ah, I failed to take into account that the retaining walls are not currently built that far underground.

I did a decent survey of the site earlier today. From what I could see, I would propose a modified Option A. In this modified option, there would be some slight excavation between the trail and parkway (but obviously not enough to need new retaining walls). Instead of trying to make the ramp come straight down to Bates parallel to the trail, I would have it bend 90 degrees under the parkway bridge as soon as meets an appropriate height clearance. Finally, grade the earth there slightly so that a single switchback could be made to snake around the parkway bridge supports and meet the Bates sidewalk. A variant of this would be to make a different switchback to connect to Hodge St. on the other side of the parkway bridge.

This modification would change Option A so that there would be much less excavation, would not interfere with either bridge structures/bases, and the overall length of the ramp would be shorter because it would meet Bates/Hodge further up-slope. Some small minor retaining walls along the ramp might be needed, but I think it could TOTALLY be done. As to WHO would be doing this now, that’s beyond me.


Ahlir
Participant
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The ramp to the west seems fine for bikes headed that way (just paint in a lane on 2nd). Having a (2-way?) lane from Bates to the Hot Metal would take care of the other directions.

While these are not clean separate-roadway solutions, the fact is that we’re talking about people who are willing to go up or down Bates and presumably can deal with having to mix it up a bit with cars.

The “correct” solution would be a separate path that lets bikes avoid the Bates hill altogether. (And, since I’m not a civil engineer and don’t need to be realistic, let me propose that this be a switch back down the hill to Hodge, accessed from in between the two commercial properties at the top.)


Pseudacris
Participant
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Can I gripe about the plantings? Nice to see some redbud trees there, snuggled in between the already-dying generic evergreens. Doesn’t look like TreePgh helped plan that stretch…I hope the redbuds make it.


Impala26
Participant
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I really do want to keep working on this idea to still get some form of access right there.

However, it’s almost like karma… has anyone seen the sidewalk along Bates Street lately? It’s an absolute mess. There is some sort of line work being done, and I would guess a gas line as I saw a Peoples Natural Gas truck out there with the late-night workers a few nights ago.

It would be awesome if they reconstructed entirely the length of sidewalk they’re messing with, but I certainly don’t have my hopes up.

Sometimes… I feel like Bates Street is going to be the death of me…


rice rocket
Participant
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Not that I promote “modification” of public property, but the ramp isn’t that steep and certainly ride-able for most bicycle “enthusiasts” at the slope that it is. Someone just needs to start a trail with a fat-tired mountain bike and it’ll slowly evolve into something that everyone can use.

But yeah, that sidewalk is now garbage because of whatever digging and jackhammering they’re doing.


zjc2a
Participant
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Does anyone know when they are goin to open the part of the trail that goes behind Haufbrough House?? It seems to be close to completion.


rsprake
Participant
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No idea. It’s been close to completion all summer long.


Mick
Participant
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The ramp to the west at Bates seems OK. But coming from Oakland, that means crossing traffic.

My favorite part of the old ramp at Bates, was cruising down Bates, then smoothly avoiding the lights to get to the Hot Metal Bridge.

I explored the new set-up a few days ago.

I thought about making a DIY ridable trail up from the east side of Bates. I decided it would be do-able with a lot of work, but the trail would be dangerous for anyone who tried to take it at speed. Like almost certain there’d be serious injuries if what I had in mind was there and possibly deaths.

I’m no engineer, but it seemed to me, to do an ADA compliant ramp, it would take about 45 yards of elevated ramp (I paced it out). At some point it would be almost 3 yards off the ground.

Another approach would be to dig a bunch of dirt out near the top of the hump.

I have no idea how much this would cost – not cheap.

So, I’m reconciled to getting off the bike and pushing it uphill. For me, it’s “plant-the-feet-push-the-bike-then-brake-and-step” steep. Possibly hazardous when wet and certainly hazardous with slush.

Damned shame when the old Bates street entrance was a great piece of infrastructure.


Impala26
Participant
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Hey Mick, I’ll do you one better.

I think a more ad-hoc ramp or whatever could be more effectively achieved if one were to start at roughly the spot where the sidewalk crosses Hodge Street. Basically roughly where the old access path was.

Once you cross Hodge along the sidewalk going towards Second Avenue, veer roughly 45 degrees off the sidewalk and up the earth embankment. This is steep on only the first few feet and then it flattens out quite a bit. The problem with this is the overhead clearance with the parkway bridge. There’s no way one could really “ride” this trail like this, but they’d have to walk their bike instead.

From there it would just be a quick 90 degree turn once you clear the parkway bridge.

I think if “DIY” construction were done to achieve access like the old path, this would be roughly the footprint it would have to follow.

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