Encouraging Almono to think big on active transport

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mjost7
Member
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Handicapped accessible –yes this is mentioned in the RFP. Bikes are not specifically mentioned but there is some chance the actual design will include at least stair ramps. Perhaps Bike Pittsburgh can work with the City and PennDOT on them.

Yes a connector on the Duck Hollow side will be wonderful.

Has anyone here talked with Firends of the Riverfront on moving this connection forward? I spoke with ALMONO/RIDC but it is not on their site so it is out of their direct control.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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*grumble*
In an ideal world, the politicians would be encouraging the parties responsible for work just outside the domain of the big project to work in concert with the keepers of the big project.

Here we are, with well defined needs, defined and repeated many times many years ago, just beyond the Almono site. Yes of course Duck Hollow and the Saline/Second/Greenfield fustercluck aren’t part of Almono. It isn’t necessary for them to be. But what should be happening is Someone In Charge saying, OK, Almono is taking on the big-ass project in the middle, now can we please get some attention on these two entry points?

OTOH, I can see where this can be abused, as well. Ideal world. Ideal world. Ideal for us, maybe. But I can also see where Someone In Charge could just as easily say, OK, Almono is working on the big-ass project, so let’s piggyback on that and dump something totally asinine just outside Almono’s realm, and nobody will notice because they will think it’s all part of the Almono thing.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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yes, yes. I’d like to contact PennDOT to push for improved ramps & provisions for bicycles at the Glenwood Bridge. Can anyone recommend a PennDOT contact?


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Uber planning to break ground at former LTV Coke Works in Hazelwood
“Uber said the Almono facility would be in place temporarily while the RIDC prepares the land for long-term housing and office development. City Councilman Corey O’Connor has said the test roadways could be in place three to five years and then removed.”
http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2016/02/23/Uber-planning-to-break-ground-at-former-LTV-Coke-Works-in-Hazelwood/stories/201602230196


paulheckbert
Moderator
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ALMONO has approved construction of a road from near Hot Metal Bridge to Hazelwood Ave. It will have a 10 foot wide bike path on the sidewalk. It looks good as far as it goes, but the northwest end doesn’t show a connection to the Hot Metal Bridge. It appears to tee into Second Ave SE of the existing UPMC parking lot’s traffic light, probably here: https://goo.gl/maps/C6mhik8kSav. Would the only off-road connection to HMB be the existing sidewalk, which has telephone poles and fire hydrants in the middle of it? See map & diagram: http://friendsoftheriverfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Hazelwood-Phase-1.pdf


abf
Member
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@paulheckbert In these pdf sheets from 2011, a 12′ bike trail is shown that joins the stub of the trail off the Hot Metal Bridge. See this map for reference.

Perhaps this will somehow connect to the “main boulevard” trail.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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@abf: That looks just like the temporary trail that was built a few years ago. I assume that remnants of that trail (crushed limestone on the ground) still exist, but if the plan was to connect the new-road-with-bike-lane to that NW end of the old trail, it’s curious that the new map didn’t show it.


dfiler
Member
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There’s so much grading to do on the site that my assumption is that no previous roads or trails will be preserved. The entire area will likely be closed until the development is complete. Or at least closed until the infrastructure, utilities and some of the buildings are complete. I’m not expecting to be able to ride through there for at least another 4 years. :(


Gordon
Participant
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The upcoming Almono land development project in Pittsburgh brings a lot of excitement, but also a lot of worries. With the current traffic congestion on the 2nd Ave, it is hard not to envision worse conditions after adding more traffic coming in and out of Almono. I am not totally convinced by Almono’s solutions of diverting traffic and adding a transit link. I believe the ultimate solution is to encourage more people to take up bike commuting. In order to do so, the developers need to emphasize improvement of bicycling infrastructures. The better they are, the more likely that people will use bicycles for transportation. I will probably be long-gone before the completion of Almono project, but since I’ve been in Pittsburgh for almost a decade, it feels like a second home to me. I’d hate to see it’s downfall due to lack of foresight.


Benzo
Participant
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That bike bridge over the tracks at the back of the upmc parking lot look like a ton of stairs. that would be an atrocious solution that is worse than the cattle chute. It may just be a bad mockup. I could see a bridge with a few switchbacks like the hot metal bridge ending on the southside or the spiraling ft duqesne bridge.

I thought there was a potential project as part of planpgh to add a trail spur parallel to the train tracks to run from the soccer fields to behind the DPW building, which would require no track crossing. That is a solution that seemed to make sense if it was doable.


Gordon
Participant
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@benzo: Thanks for the suggestions. I couldn’t find a good picture of bike bridge over train track for that particular angle, and I don’t want to bother drawing one myself. If you can find a matching picture, please send me the link!

I think the plan for a bike trail paralleled to the train track is doable, but riders still have to deal with the climb to 5th Ave on S Neville St at the end. Also, it’s a detour to get to Pitt campus. I still think a bike lift on Joncaire St will provide a better boost to ridership.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Earlier in this thread, I proposed they allot for 100x the number of cyclists that are there now. I’ve proposed a suspended ring such as is shown in @gordon’s little video. Make the thing large enough and all approaches can be at a light enough grade as to be easily accessed from any direction.

I’d like the thing to be enormous, a centerpiece, something you can see for miles away, like the Dixie Cup atop the Carnegie Science Center. It wouldn’t matter if you were coming down Greenfield or up from Almonoville. It would be a level ring, well above the level of passing trains, hovering maybe 50 feet over the Irvine-Saline intersection and maybe 250 feet across.


Benzo
Participant
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Thanks for the heads up about the flyover bridge. I’m sure finding appropriate imagery may be a challenge.

I also like the suggestion of connecting the duck hollow trail under the Glenwood bridge.

Additionally, creating connectivity between squirrel hill at Murray and forward to saline street would provide another great connection, another piece that has been brought up on the boards here.

I would also love to see sylvan ave be reconnected between frazier street bridge and home rule street as a bike ped path to improve hazelwood connections along what appears to be a city right of way.

I don’t see those bike lifts as a great solution. My initial impression is that it would be difficult for a lot of folks to master, and could be expensive to maintain. It would also require the cobblestone street (which seems to require little maintinance) to be paved and require routine resurfacing. I would bet that you could build a paved set of switchbacks with a gentle grade on the wooded hillside above joncaire to make an improved the bicycle connection. An example that comes to mind is in baltimore where the jones falls trail climbs up from falls rd to wyman park drive. However, the google map link doesn’t show it quite well enough. https://www.google.com/maps/@39.3209963,-76.6288504,18.75z/data=!5m1!1e3


Gordon
Participant
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@stu: Does this concept art fits your description of the suspended roundabout? I totally agree with you – it will be a nice thing to have.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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@benzo wrote of “potential project as part of planpgh to add a trail spur parallel to the train tracks to run from the soccer fields to behind the DPW building, which would require no track crossing”.

Regarding that concept, see map at http://goo.gl/lT0LWO, click on “Junction Hollow Trail – rerouted” for a picture and my personal assessment, namely that there’s not enough space beside the railroad tracks for that particular route. Other options look more feasible and less expensive.


Marko82
Participant
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Streets at Hazelwood’s Almono site set for year-end finish
http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/10811042-74/hazelwood-almono-former

The good: Crews are nearing completion of the 1.5-mile street that runs from Second Avenue to Hazelwood Avenue and installation of utility lines along the route.

Completion of Signature Boulevard will permit the ownership group known as Almono to reconnect streets into Hazelwood.

The (possibly) bad: The City of Pittsburgh, the city Urban Redevelopment Authority and Almono hope to build a street for shuttle service on publicly owned land through Panther Hollow that would connect Hazelwood to Oakland and its universities.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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@Gordon – Yes, exactly. Sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I just linked another thread to that exact diagram. A picture speaks a thousand words.

I don’t care if it costs $10 million. It should be a showpiece.


Gordon
Participant
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The traffic lights for Almono’s entryway – Signature Blvd are up. But I don’t see why they can’t put a bridge to jail trail at the same time. It doesn’t have to be a heavy duty bridge like the one on Hot Metal Bridge – a suspension one will be plenty enough for pedestrians and cyclists. Can’t Almono’s engineers design a traffic light beam that can house the lights as well as serve as a suspender for a suspension bridge?


Singnature Blvd Traffic Lights

 


Hot Metal / Jail Trail Connector Bridge

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  Gordon.

dfiler
Member
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Unfortunately there is no such thing as a cheap bridge and suspension bridges are the most expensive bridges to build. A simple truss bridge, as seen in the hot metal bridge photo you posted, would be the cheapest option.  Ironically, it might actually be cheaper to mount lights the standard way rather than attaching them to a bridge structure.

My guess is that a bridge there would be at least a half million dollars. Combined with engineering for connecting ramps and sidewalks, etc, the price could be in the millions. Personally, I’d rather see that money spent on bridges that would make a bigger difference, like connecting the end of the duck hollow trail to the glennwood bridge.


paulheckbert
Moderator
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From a late-2016 article:

Peduto proposed Uber invest $25 million into building a new transit connection from Carnegie Mellon to the Hazelwood neighborhood where the company was planning a test track for its self-driving cars. In return, Peduto wrote on May 21, Uber would get “exclusive rights to operate along the busways for five years.” Uber had other ideas. “The monetary investment required” and the “need for USDOT approval make this difficult for us,” Uber wrote.

https://qz.com/874548/uber-asked-a-lot-of-pittsburgh-for-its-self-driving-cars-and-offered-back-very-little/

See also these articles about the Uber test track that was built last year (that’s the big, unlabeled chunk of land at the south end of Almono, near Tecumseh St). This test track is expected to last for 3-5 years. I wonder if it will end up being permanent. If so, it could block the promised integration of Almono into the existing Hazelwood street grid.

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2016/02/20/Uber-considers-building-test-track-in-Hazelwood

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2016/09/03/Uber-s-test-track-almost-ready-still-no-official-word-on-when-self-driving-cars-will-roll-out


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Signature Blvd at ALMONO has been painted. This is the view from Eliza Furnace Trail.

I’m surprised by a couple of things:

  • I though the Signature Blvd was going to have a separated bike path or wide sidewalk for cycling, outside the main roadway. Where is that?
  • Why is there not a curb cut at the lower left corner of this picture?

DSC05922


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The ADA curb cut work might be a separate subcontract, so I’m not too concerned about that … yet.

Better question, can you get a wheelchair comfortably past the light posts and speed limit signs?


NMR
Member
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Wait are you sure that’s actually the portion they’re calling the Signature Boulevard? My goodness, that’s just atrocious design detailing.

 

How does one manage to screw up design of a brand new street with a 90′(!!!) right-of-way so bad that it cannot fit street parking or even the lowest class of bike lane, not to mention sidewalks that lack a buffer for utilities and sign placement?

 

Also, LOL at placing curve warning chevron signs on what’s supposed to be a 25 mph neighborhood-focused street.


dfiler
Member
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Wow, those are horrifically wide lanes and wide corner radius. That means that cars will be going 40 or 45+ mph. It’s basically an urban highway rather than a livable, human scaled street. Why the hell isn’t there a bike lane instead of those ludicrously wide lanes and painted median?

I’m hoping that is not the signature blvd, but rather a perpendicular street connecting to the existing street grid. Which intersection is the photo showing?

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by  dfiler.

buffalo buffalo
Participant
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No, this is definitely “Signature Boulevard” just off the far-western intersection with Second Ave.  This is the view from the Jail Trail, about halfway between Swinburne and Hot Metal.

As I wrote to a friend when he asked Corey O’Connor’s office and RIDC to open Signature ASAP to bikes and pedestrians because Second Ave is simply unsafe (a month ago), it’s too bad the new road wasn’t aligned with Swinburne.  Getting between the new road and the trail will be very difficult unless the state does something drastic to lower speeds on Second (PA-885) or reconnects the trails it broke during construction.


Gordon
Participant
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We could learn more about ALMONO’s plan up close by attending the Bike Tour of the Almond Site hosted by Green Building Alliance on July 19th: https://www.go-gba.org/events/save-date-bike-tour-almono-development/

Experience
This is a very special opportunity to get an inside look at Pittsburgh’s last big brownfield redevelopment, and to learn about the site’s future. Rebecca Flora of ReMake Group and Almono’s Project Director will kick off the tour with some site history and information about Almono’s sustainability goals. We’ll then break into groups on our bikes (or on foot) to check out a few highlights of the site.

The bike ride will be about 3 miles in length. If biking isn’t your style, an alternate walking tour will also be available, with a reduced 1.5 mile route. Food and drinks will be included.

Once you click on the “register now” link, please pay attention to the registration options.  Our friends at Healthy Ride are offering on-site bike rentals for anyone who will need a bike when they arrive. If you will need a bike provided to you on the tour, please register under that option (for an additional $15).

Members of BikePGH and Healthy Ride are eligible for the GBA member price. (Starting from $30)

 

About the Site
In 2002, the Almono LP had the foresight to purchase this former J&L and LTV steel site to ensure that its redevelopment could be fully leveraged as a unique opportunity for the Hazelwood neighborhood, city, and region. Now, fifteen years later, the 178-acre site is positioned to not only become a hub for the innovation and tech economies, but serve as a leader and catalyst for sustainable development.

The site aspires to be a place for experimentation and creativity. This vision is carried out not just in the types of businesses and development that it attracts, but in the site’s infrastructure, programming, and process. It is a place to test new approaches to integrating stormwater management into the public realm, to facilitate thoughtful co-locating of industries, to create a model for district energy, and to design a process that yields an authentic sense of place.

During this tour we will get a chance to look at and talk about some of these innovative approaches already underway, as well as the larger vision for the site.

Stops along the Tour
Site Work & Stormwater. Now with Act II clearance, environmental clean-up of the site over the past 15 years was no different from the many riverfront brownfield sites in the region. However, the environmental clean-up was completed in conjunction with the first road on-site, as well as the design and building of the site’s stormwater management infrastructure. Additionally, this road was designed as the city’s first newly designed complete street. This tour stop will focus on the groundwork undertaken to get the site to where it is today, and ready for future development.

Public Realm. The idea of public realm on the site is intended to include a variety of things: the 1.2 miles of riverfront, the Mill Plaza, the pedestrian and cyclists connections, and everything else “between the buildings.” Accessibility and inclusivity are key components of the site’s public realm strategy. This tour stop will talk about the public realm vision for the site, how it can be amenity for the neighborhood, as well as a part of the larger city and regional park system.

Trails & Connectivity. Though Second Avenue and railroads currently create barriers to the site’s connectivity and accessibility, the site is perfectly positioned to act as a confluence for Hazelwood, South Side, Oakland, Four Mile Run, and Greenfield. This tour stop will highlight some of these key linkages and how the site could tie to the Eliza Furnace trail, the Great Allegheny Passage, the South Side Riverfront Trail, and Junction Hollow.

Mill 19. One of two legacy buildings on the site, this will be the first to be developed. Plans and design for the building aim to emphasize the building’s heritage while providing space for a completely new and different industry: automation. This tour stop will focus on the building’s design and role in the site’s redevelopment, as well as its energy goals.

Pumphouse. This remnant of river infrastructure has sparked lot of great and intriguing ideas. Currently one of the few places to access the water, this is easily one of the most inspiring places on the site. This tour stop is meant to generative creative thinking for alternative reuse of the riverfront and ignite the imagination as to how we engage with the water.


dfiler
Member
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Unless we’re under the wrong impression about what appear to be zero accommodation for bikes, I can’t believe the the project director is naive enough to be involved with a bike tour of the development. Those sharrows are an insult and more of a charade than actual bike infrastructure. The project touted the blvd as bike and pedestrian friendly. Yet I can think of no worse design for walking or biking. Seriously, how could it be worse?

The sidewalk is immediately next to the road and blocked by poles. The lanes are so wide that people will drive much faster than the speed limit. The curbs at intersections are so rounded that cars won’t slow down while turning. Turning speed has been optimized over safety. There’s no cross walk. The sharrows are positioned dangerously. Riding on the sharrow isn’t far enough left to take the lane so dangerously close passing will be encouraged without cars leaving the lane.

It’s a shame because it seemed Pittsburgh was steadily marching toward a complete riverfront trail system. And here we are with a development that not only doesn’t include a riverside trail, but the “signature blvd” is built like a highway. For the speed limit we’ll see here, the blvd’s  has the most dangerous design possible for bikes and pedestrians.

I really hope i’m wrong and that the rest of the road is better than shown in the photo…


Gordon
Participant
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ALMONO received a 9.5-million dollar grant to develop a COMPLETE STREET, but its current status looks like an extension of the 2nd Ave super highway. Is it a COMPLETE FRAUD?

Note: Photo courtesy of Paul Heckbert
REF: http://wesa.fm/post/almono-gets-street-and-its-first-major-pathway-development#stream/0


dfiler
Member
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Seeing that link, perhaps my distain is only partially justified. The photo in the link looks a bit different than Paul’s photo. The article also mentions a protected bike lane. Perhaps that lane parallels the blvd on the river side of the street, eventually connecting to the EFT. Paul’s photo might just be the stretch of road between that and 2nd ave. Still, it’s astounding that a highway style road was built with sharrows and is intended to connect to the protected lane. Why not just make that section protected too? The road is too wide for the speed limit. When will they learn that wider roads in cities are actually more dangerous than roads narrow enough that people naturally drive the speed limit?


paulheckbert
Moderator
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The bike tour of Almono is today. https://www.go-gba.org/events/save-date-bike-tour-almono-development/

I visited on Tuesday evening. This is what the main stretch of Signature Blvd looks like. They should have added many more curb cuts.

DSC06815


paulheckbert
Moderator
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I attended the Almono Bike Tour Wednesday. Some things I learned:

Signature Blvd, which tees into 2nd Ave north of Swinburne, runs south, and meets up with Hazelwood Ave, is nearly done. It’s a “complete street” (bioswales for stormwater management, roadway for cars, sidewalks, and a separated bike path). CSX and AVR railroads insist that a canopy be built for the cyclists and pedestrians passing under the railroad bridge (but not the cars) to protect against the possibility of stuff falling off the railroad cars. That might open by the end of 2017.

When they open Signature Blvd, they anticipate drivers cutting through ALMONO to avoid traffic jams on 2nd Ave. To keep car speeds down on ALMONO streets, they’ll use speed tables (raised crosswalks) at every intersection, in the future. Curb cuts will be added to Signature Blvd later, once they figure out where the cross streets will be.

They want to build and attract development at the south end of the “Mill 19” building (a relic from Jones & Laughlin Steel) soon. Over the next two years they plan to remove the asbestos-laden roof and walls of the Mill 19 building, leaving only a skeleton, add solar panels, build the first office building inside this skeleton, and design and start building “Mill Plaza” which will be an outdoor space just south of the building. They want the plaza to be a “place”.

Uber’s test track currently takes up all the space between the extension of Hazelwood Ave and Tecumseh St. Uber’s lease will end in four years, after which ALMONO intends to reclaim it, build a street grid connecting to Blair St and the other small north-south residential streets in the flats and put residential buildings there.

There is a sliver of land between the railroad and the river, north of Hazelwood Ave along which there will be an additional bike/ped trail. It passes a Pumphouse and docks, which has potential as a hip industrial spot along the river. How to develop this is undecided.

I asked about connecting the bike trail south to connect with the Duck Hollow Trail. There’s no news here. AVR’s Glenwood Railyard difficult to get around.

Regarding connections to Junction Hollow and Oakland, I heard that negotiations between the city, CSX, and AVR went nowhere. ALMONO mentioned a possible aerial tram connecting Oakland, ALMONO, and Southside. Hmmm! They’re also planning an autonomous shuttle bus circulating through Hazelwood and ALMONO.

ALMONO illustrative site plan, annotated by me (click for uncropped picture)

  • blue = Signature Blvd
  • orange = existing bike trail (new)
  • red = trail past Pumphouse (old road)
  • darkened = currently Uber

almono_map

railroad bridge over Signature Blvd, with Mill 19 Building in distance

DSC06831

pier and Pumphouse

DSC06839


Eric
Member
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Any idea what those wheeled devices were for in the last photo?


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Winching cargo? Steel and/or coke?


Eric
Member
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Got it.

 

How did the bikeability seen on the tour compare to the fear of a dangerous  layout generated by seeing Signature Blvd?


paulheckbert
Moderator
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The separated bike trails are nice. The short piece of Signature Blvd that tees into 2nd Ave north of Swinburne (blue without orange in my map) isn’t designed to carry many cyclists. The piece of trail heading north of there to the Hot Metal Bridge (along the old Hazelwood Trail route) is in a less finished state (crushed limestone, not asphalt) but they anticipate working with Friends of the Riverfront to improve that.

There was a bit of talk of a bike ramp from the Eliza Furnace/UPMC parking lot straight south to the quiet piece of 2nd Ave, an idea that’s been discussed in the past and which I thought CSX had nixed. They expressed some hope that careful examination of property lines could suggest a route that would obviate negotiation with the intransigent railroads.

 


Marko82
Participant
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^^yes, those are winches that are used while the barges are being unloaded.  Most of the barges were carrying coal since this was were the coke battery was, the ore unloading was further down river. As the weight of the barge decreases (coal is unloaded) the barge rises up out of the water (12 feet or more!), so a standing line would have to be constantly untied/retied; the winches make this easier.

There was a big vertical bucket-conveyer-belt (no longer there) that unloaded the barges. Each bucket scooped up about a ton of coal – the thing was huge!  I was told it was over a hundred years old when I got a tour back in the late 70’s when the mill was still running.  The mechanical engineer giving the tour claimed that every so often they would explore a better way of unloading the barges, but couldn’t find one that was any cheaper or quicker.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Earlier in this thread I discussed the idea of a hovenring. If it could provide all the ground clearance the RR would require of any bridge, and assurance that they would not be responsible for maintaining it, I see no reason why that cannot be the solution. Same solution also directly connects Oakland with downtown without dealing with the chute.

I say we assume the RR is OK with the idea and proceed to preliminary design. Legs to Eliza Furnace Trail, Saline, Greenfield, Irvine, and some touchdown location in Almono. All would need long ramps to get high enough to access the ring, and of course some redesign of that intersection would be necessary for car traffic. Likely a roundabout, with the spire’s base in the center of it.

Done properly, it would also likely ease car backups, too.


Gordon
Participant
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I also attended the bike tour. The Signature Blvd bike path is actually pretty nice with wide porous asphalt surface and separation from both motor vehicle and foot traffic. I asked if the porous asphalt would crack during winter because of icing, but the tour guides did not know. The bike path ends before the 2nd Ave intersection, but given the heavy motor vehicle traffic on the 2nd Ave, I don’t think many cyclists would go that away. A better way to connect to Hot Metal Bridge, Southside, and Jail Trail is to follow the old Hazelwood trail, which I believe follows the AVR train track and go underneath the Hot Metal Bridge. From there, cyclists could go up the ramp next to the Thermo Fisher Science building and get on the the Hot Metal Bridge. However, this is a long detour, and I think a safe way to connect directly to the Panther Hollow Trail will encourage a lot more people to visit ALMONO on bikes. The tour guides mentioned that the developers are considering the possibility to build a gondola to connect ALMONO to Oakland. I think the gondola is a good idea, but I feel a bridge that connects with Jail Trail and Hazelwood would also be needed to make ALMONO more accessible. Currently, the only bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly access points are near the Hot Metal Bridge and the Hazelwood Ave. Lastly, the tour guides explained that the accessibility issues are not the most urgent to the developers. The developers need to start having some money flowing in by attracting investment before they can work on improvement.

Photo album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/PKn0YpKDF8vwV9eF2

End of bike path on Signature Blvd. The crushed lime stones path behind the lady should be the old Hazelwood Trail.

The bend of Signature Blvd which joins the 2nd Ave

Traveling east on Signature Blvd
null

Concept art of the renovated Mill 19

Mill 19

Round house. No plan on development yet.


Eric
Member
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Dumb question.  What’s a gondola in this context?


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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