Local news stories and LTE 2017

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Marko82
Participant
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^I think these stories are related… but Sharrows are coming to Mt. Oliver!

Mt. Oliver Borough will receive $745,714 for a streetscape project along Brownsville Road from the Clock Tower to Margaret Street. The project includes numerous improvements in the business district, including new sidewalks, ADA curb ramps, sharrows, and a consistent streetscape design.

http://www.sopghreporter.com/story/2017/01/17/news/mt-oliver-receives-funding-to-expand-streetscape/17393.html

If this happens it will be the first on-road bike infra in the south hills.


RustyRed
Member
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“PAT overlooks bike users with new fare system”

 

After the system has been in place for a month, the agency will review concerns and decide if additional tweaks should be made, said Bill Miller, chief operations officer. On the first day of the new system, the agency realized it had overlooked bike riders and should allow them to leave through the front door rather than walking from the exit door to the rack at the front of the bus to retrieve their bike.

 

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2017/01/18/Port-Authority-Transition-smooth-to-new-fare-system/stories/201701180152


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I was in an hour-long meeting last night with Dan DeBone, whom I’ve had a working relationship for 15 years. I think he knows about bikes now.


Vannevar
Participant
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Eric
Member
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Two articles I read on Google’s news aggregator but can’t link to due to post gazette paywall.  Maybe someone can link to them.

 

Rivers casino to build a hotel on east side of property.

Info about Westmoreland trail expansion.


jonawebb
Participant
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Benzo
Participant
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Rivers casino hotel expansion. See details on page 71.
http://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/schedule84/presentation-84-895.pdf

They want to build in the grassy area between the casino and science center, behind the existing trail, and connect it to the casino.

 

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Benzo.
  • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Benzo.

jonawebb
Participant
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That’s a big download.
Here is a view of what they’re planning:

and here is a rendering:


Eric
Member
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Corner of the hotel meets the trail. Oi. Just annoyed by all the closures for construction over the last few years. Strip district twice , Allegheny landing, science center construction, and now this hotel. And can’t forget the permanent detour on the SS trail.


jonawebb
Participant
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Pretty exciting. The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy is planning to connect parks with trails in the North Hills and the Alle-Kiski Valley.
http://triblive.com/local/valleynewsdispatch/11738415-74/trail-trails-allegheny


Eric
Member
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I was just about to post that link.  This is all super exciting, because you can already get from the Allegheny River in O’Hara (around the docks development) all the way up to Beechwood Farms mostly on trail (a little bit of sidewalk at the foot of fox chapel road and old freeport).

 

Even better, there was a biker in the picture.  although these aren’t (road) biking trails.


Eric
Member
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article about the aspinwall project that has everyone up in arms around here (the development next to aspinwall riverfront park), with some small mention about the bike trail.  It seems to hint that if the project doesn’t get done than the trail link on this side is in jeopardy.  Hard to tell how much is rhetoric and how much is Trib kwality reporting.


Marko82
Participant
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^could someone boil this Aspinwall thing down to a few sentences without favoring either side.  Reading through the riverfront-park website Q&A just makes this even more political than my brain can hold.


Eric
Member
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Bottom line: traffic. Right now to get into the parcel you need to go through 19th street in Sharpsburg. The developers want to build an entrance at Eastern Ave in aspinwall.

Parcel is 12 percent aspinwall and 78 percent Sharpsburg.

One side says traffic on Freeport is already bad and there will be tons of cars more with a road there. That most of the traffic burden will be in Aspinwall but only 12 percent of the development. The other side says development is worth the increase in traffic.

An independent traffic study is pending.

I think aspinwall boro council has to approve part of the Eastern Ave changes.

 

I assume a trail through the parcel will be part of the project.


jonawebb
Participant
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PA extremely local government FTW!


Marko82
Participant
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Thanks.  Kinda reminds me of the Steelers complaining about the additional traffic when the casino was going in.

OTOH, it would be nice to have the trail commitments in writing before any final approvals.


Eric
Member
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I think the traffic issue is that that part of Freeport is pretty backed up during rush hours, as people are getting on and off the HPB.  Adding more traffic to Freeport will make this worse, but things will come to s standstill many times a day when the train comes through as any # of cars trying to turn into the complex won’t be able to move for 2-3 minutes, thus backing up everyone else.  The train is at grade, and thus the crossing will be at grade.  In sharpsburg, the train is elevated and there’s a tunnel under the train tracks.

My office is the first house back off of Freeport, and I can vouch for that train coming many, many times a day.


Vannevar
Participant
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I appreciate the explanation, especially the (78% benefits to Sharpsburg) and the (downside to Aspinwall). So the developer’s position is a single entrance in Sharpsburg is insufficient?

When I ride through there I see all the signs and I didn’t really understand it. It does seem as if there’s more to it than just a park entrance – it could effect all the traffic flows.  I’m surprised the developers put themselves into this spot.


Eric
Member
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I think a few different reasons for the Sharpsburg entrance…

  1. Aspinwall is (much) higher SES than sharpsburg. So the cachet factor.  And I do think some people won’t look at the facility to live, or to shop, if the only way in is through Sharpsburg.  Just the reality of the situation…
  2. For the traffic coming off the HPB… I’m sure the vast majority of those cars that don’t get onto 28 go toward Aspinwall, not Sharpsburg.  so just for the visibility reason (they’re going to have shops there too), the Aspinwall entrance makes sense.
  3. As long as the riverfront park has been in development there has been talk about getting a better entrance for it.  The original plan was to move the driveway to the intersection with Brillant.  However, when the new parcel was bought, I think they figured they could solve the riverfront park entrance problem by using Eastern.  Kills 2 birds with one stone.

My guess is also that the developers didn’t think there would be this much opposition to the plan given I can’t think of anyone who opposed the riverfront park.  Even UPMC, who was going to use it for a park and ride lot, went quietly into the night when the local group came forward and took a long time to raise the money.  To put a cherry on top, Highmark decided to donate a  decent chunk of change to the riverfront park.  Hence the highmark logo on the trail.  I think it was a middle finger to upmc.

Freeport Road can get really bad during rush hour.  If I’m in a car, I take the back streets of Aspinwall.  but that’s because I live right off of Delafield.   However, I think there’s also a worry that the other streets of Aspinwall will have increased traffic too, and not just from locals (who would normally take freeport to delafield and then up the hill toward fox chapel and ohara), but rather people who are sick of waiting on freeport.  Aspinwall streets are very narrow, car parking on both sides, lots of pedestrians, and many kids playing.  So there’s that fear.

Also, the 1, 91, and 75 buses use freeport, and when they’re loading and unloading during rush hour it can back traffic up several blocks (there are a lot of traffic lights on freeport, and with traffic moving slowly, and buses stopping every few blocks, you can get stuck behind a lot of red lights).  Freeport is also heavily used by ambulances going to St. Margaret and it is the only way for Pgh Fire, Police, and EMS to respond to the waterworks.  And working right off of freeport for the last 2+ years, I can tell you that the waterworks creates a crazy amount of calls to pgh fire/ems/police.

I have no horse in the game.  I live in fox chapel and I walk to work to Aspinwall. Just seeing it turn into a neighbor vs. neighbor type of fight.  Not that this is happening elsewhere in US politics… (:

Biking wise, increased traffic on Freeport will make it much more dangerous to bikers.  I already am super vigilant when I’m taking Freeport from Sharpsburg to Aspinwall when I go past the 28 off ramp.  Those cars are still going very fast, and a lot of them don’t yield.  the ones that do have a very crappy angle — the oncoming cars on Freeport are actually behind them.  you have to go into owl mode and turn your head 170 degrees, or pray that no one is in your blind spot and use your mirrors. that older lady was killed a few years ago at that off ramp, and a wobbly pedestrian was killed coming off the bus at western and freeport just about 2 weeks ago.

When I’m on my bike I definitely take the lane and usually I stand up so I’m more visible when I reach that off ramp.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Eric.

jonawebb
Participant
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Marko82
Participant
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Council To Consider Heavily Amended Bike Lane Board Legislation

http://wesa.fm/post/council-consider-heavily-amended-bike-lane-board-legislation#stream/0

The amendments increase the number of advisory board members from 10 to 14, by adding an additional representative from the business community, a public safety representative and two mayoral appointees. It also removes the requirement that one member be a representative of Bike Pittsburgh. Instead it calls for two representatives from, more broadly, “bicycle advocacy organizations.”


Eric
Member
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regarding the previous Aspinwall R47 discussions and a possible trail connection, the anti- side has been very vocal with a website and signs.  Today I got the pro- side leaflet at my work.  I’ll spare you all the details, but answering the anti- side–

Per the pro- side, per zoning rules mixed use developments require at least 2 access points, so the one is Sharpsburg will be the “primary” one but they need another one for emergency purposes.

Re: the trail, “… because (Aspinwall Riverfront Park) has conditioned joint access on R47 (riverfront 47 project in question) granting a trail easement, an additional 1.5 miles of riverfront trail that will eventually enable residents to commute to downtown Pittsburgh on foot or bike.”

From the visual attached, it seems that the trail part would include the walkways already part of Aspinwall Riverfront Park.  They’re made of a funky material and it is really hard to ride of them when wet.  It is unclear what the trail would be made up of in the R47 section.

And, as far as I can tell, even if R47 is built, it looks like the trail will only be in the development (the park and the R47 project) and then everyone will be back on Main Street in Sharpsburg from 19th street on down, and then will have to semi-illegally ride on the rocks from hell next to the train tracks until it hits millvale.  Or will have to ride the 62nd street bridge to butler and then back across at the 40th street bridge.

I haven’t heard of any groups actively trying to get the trail connected from Millvale to Sharpsburg.  That, to me, is the more critical section of the trail.  I know that the railroad seems to look the other way currently with peds/bikes, but the rocks are awful and the railroad could change its policy at a time… And there’s no other alternative on that side of the river that doesn’t involve going up and down huge hills with lots of traffic (that takes up much more time than Butler street on the zoo side).


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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@edronline: Friends of the Riverfront and others have been working on extending the trail from Millvale to Sharpsburg (and eventually to Freeport!). There was an announcement of a $500,000 state grant for extension in Etna in 2016. They need to raise more money, however.

http://www.post-gazette.com/life/recreation/2016/02/12/Etna-gets-funds-to-extend-Three-Rivers-Heritage-Trail/stories/201602120009

Etna “Borough officials have been working for several years on the plans and funding with the riverfront group, Allegheny County and the Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone. The first step in construction, which Ms. Ramage hopes will occur this year, is the creation of a flyover [near 62nd St Bridge] to take pedestrian and bicycle traffic safely across the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks that parallel the river. Afterward will come the trail construction …”.


Eric
Member
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I read that article and forgot it. Thanks for reminding me.

 

Aspinwall r47 people said the same thing basically.

Thanks for your inquiry. Friends of the Riverfront is working hard to extend the Three Rivers Heritage Trail (which runs from Millvale to the North Shore) all the way up to Freeport. There is a piece of riverfront property in Etna that has been purchased, and there are ongoing talks with Sharpsburg about how we can extend it further south from the R47 property line. What we’ve seen over the years is that one trail development begets more trail development, so if R47 is successful, I’m hoping that this will inspire more attention to this segment! As you can imagine, Etna and Sharpsburg do not have resources to devote to building a trail, so there would need to be significant grant donations to support this segment.


alleghenian
Member
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Regarding the Millvale-to-Etna/Sharpsburg trail, I received the Friends of the Riverfront e-newsletter last week and it had this update:

“Progress in Etna!

Etna is one of 17 municipalities of the Community Trails Initiative, which focuses on extending the Three Rivers Heritage Trail from Millvale to Freeport. The Allegheny River corridor is part of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Alliance, the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Mainline Canal Greenway, and the 1,600-miles of trail that make-up the Industrial Heartland Trail Coalition.

Friends of the Riverfront started the process for an Etna Riverfront Park and Trail in 2013 by purchasing the one-acre property adjacent to the 62nd Street Bridge, then transferring ownership to Etna in 2014. Throughout 2015, a community process occurred resulting in a conceptual plan for a trail and bike/pedestrian crossing.

Currently, PennDOT is reviewing the preliminary engineering plan, prepared by CDR McGuire and submitted at the end of last year. The Borough of Etna recently advertised a request for proposals (RFP) for the next phase of the project–the final detail design. The Borough, in partnership with the Etna Riverfront Park and Trail Planning Committee, plans to award the contract in the last week of February.

Watch for the next project update on this exciting extension to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail!”


Eric
Member
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I can’t picture where this trail is going in Etna unless it is right next to one of the railroad tracks.  There’s river, a steep hill, a set of railroad tracks, another hill, another railroad track, route 28, and a huge hill…  And the rocks next to the railroad tracks isn’t very wide in some places.


dfiler
Member
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Could one of the tracks be unneeded and out of maintenance? I’m not familiar with that area but it happens elsewhere. Like in duck hollow, there is a rail-to-trial alongside another grouping of still active lines.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Getting from Millvale to the 62nd St Bridge is pretty straightforward. You can drive a truck through there, until you get to the actual trail by Millvale. In fact, it might be easier by truck than by bicycle. It’s upstream of the crossing by 62SB into Sharpsburg where I have trouble envisioning things.


alleghenian
Member
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Not sure if an “official” trail has to be a certain distance away from railroad tracks, or if a fence has to separate the trail from the railroad, but as Stu said, the gravel road between Millvale and Etna is definitely big enough for a car/truck’s width, so I would think that it would be pretty easy to convert it to a trail.  The good news is that once the Etna connection is done, there is Main St./Freeport Rd. along the Allegheny valley from there.

This PDF (https://friendsoftheriverfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Etna-Riverfront-Park-and-Trail-10-5-15_1.pdf) has a drawing of the Etna riverfront park plan.  Apparently they plan to build an elevated flyover crossing above the tracks for bikes and pedestrians, even though the at-grade crossing will still be there for “maintenance vehicle access”.  Not sure why anyone on a bike would not then just use the at-grade crossing unless a train was actively passing, or how they could enforce a rule to make them take the overhead ramp.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Depending on certain variables, a trail is ordinarily required to be 25-50 feet from an active rail line.  Certain places are much closer, such as the trail along the railroad in McKeesport; they may have gotten exceptions or IMO more likely were grandfathered in due to preexisting conditions.


Eric
Member
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Sounds like only official vehicles can use private rail crossings like the 62nd Street bridge one. Not sure if federal or state law. Evidently the railroad has been actively helping get this done and came up with the flyover ramp idea to get it done.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Evidently the railroad has been actively helping get this done and came up with the flyover ramp idea to get it done.

that might be one way of spinning it.  another is the railroad suggested that — or at least is allowing — the borough spend a boatload of money building a bridge, to railroad specifications, so that the railroad doesn’t have to allow a crossing.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The Baldwin Trail part of the GAP is pretty close to the tracks, and if that isn’t close enough for you, the part from the gravel plant driveway past Sandcastle is closer still.


Eric
Member
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Buffalo, good point


andyc
Member
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There’s also a section of the montour trail that’s right up next to the tracks with only a fence dividing.

https://www.google.com/maps/@40.321266,-80.2395634,597m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e3


Mikhail
Member
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that might be one way of spinning it. another is the railroad suggested that — or at least is allowing — the borough spend a boatload of money building a bridge, to railroad specifications, so that the railroad doesn’t have to allow a crossing.

 

I believe that at grade crossings are discourage by both the federal government  and industry association.

The other reason could be that this crossing is a private one — https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0156

Highway-railroad grade crossings are intersections where a highway crosses a railroad at-grade. They are also called level crossings in other countries such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

To avoid collisions, warning/control devices are required at grade crossings just like intersecting roads need stop signs or traffic signals. Active Grade Crossings have active warning and control devices such as bells, flashing lights, and gates, in addition to passive warning devices such as crossbucks (the familiar x-shaped signs that mean yield to the train), yield or stop signs and pavement markings.  While passive Grade Crossings have only passive warning devices. These warning/control devices are specified in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices  (MUTCD).

Grade crossings may be public or private. Public grade crossings are roadways that are under the jurisdiction of, and maintained by, a public authority. Private grade crossings are on privately owned roadways, such as on a farm or industrial area, and are intended for use by the owner or by the owner’s licensees and invitees. A private crossing is not intended for public use and is not maintained by a public highway authority. In 2015, there were 129,582 public crossings and 80,073 private crossings.

IIRC, level of providing MUTCD at private ones is much lower. So implication is that if RR makes at grade crossing public they have to bust level of MUTCD at least.

https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L03588

 


Eric
Member
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This is officially a private crossing under the 62nd st bridge.

 

You have to give the railroad kudos for not patrolling people off that stretch. Pretty much any other railroad, especially the ones around here refusing to work with the trails, would kick people off or arrest them. Like panther hollow.


Marko82
Participant
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Harrison gets grant for safety improvements to its section of Three Rivers Heritage Trail

http://triblive.com/local/valleynewsdispatch/11858303-74/trail-harrison-bergstrom

Harrison’s designated sections of the trail encompass sections of Broadview Boulevard, Freeport Road and River Avenue. Those areas will be the focus points of the project.


Marko82
Participant
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Pittsburgh company can pinpoint just how close that car got to your bike

Pittsburgh company can pinpoint just how close that car got to your bike


jonawebb
Participant
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