Mon Wharf Switchback update from Riverlife

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Eric
Member
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Ohh. A boy can hope!


MaryShaw
Member
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Last October, Riverlife got a new Prez/CEO. Yesterday’s BikePgh “Messenger” included:

“In October 2015 Vivien Li left her powerful position as the head of the Boston Harbor Association to become the CEO and president of the Riverlife in Pittsburgh. She is a fierce advocate for public riverfront space and has pledged to oversee the completion of the few missing links in Pittsburgh’s river trail system.”

That would include the switchback ramp.


Eric
Member
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I think it is a bit of anletdown since they solicited money from the public (I gave) and made it sound that it was imminent.


stefb
Participant
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^ yep. Same here. We were under the impression that they were ready to build.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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my understanding is they were, too, but then discovered something (I don’t know what) that made them go literally back to the drawing board.


Steven
Participant
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As I recall, the construction bids came out higher than their estimates, so they had to redo the design to make it cheaper to build.

I agree, the way they promoted their “finish the job” fundraising wasn’t appropriate for the stage they were at, when the year of construction was still uncertain. But perhaps getting needed funding was contingent on getting a strong show of public support just then, and they thought they had no choice.


dfiler
Member
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Last I saw, construction was slated to begin spring 2016. Has something changed?


chrishent
Member
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That was my understanding too, @dfiler. If I recall correctlt, even the City was saying as much as recently as December (@ the Ft. Pitt Blvd cycle track meeting).

Given the relative complexity of the project, it is perhaps unsurprising that quotes for construction would be higher than anticipated.

It should be noted that the proposed switchback project is more or less the ideal solution to this area, as it allows you to avoid crossing over Smithfield St and does not intrude into the existing Mon Wharf space. However, if the goal is to simply connect the Mon Wharf to the GAP, there could be a compromise solution.

This solution would involve having a straight ramp from the other side of the bridge, similar to those on the south end of the Warhol bridge. This, I imagine, would be cheaper and less complex, but it would force trails users to cross over Smithfield St. and would intrude into the existing Mon Wharf area, given that it would be a somewhat long ramp.

At least initially, this seems more feasible than the proposed switchback, but maybe it isn’t. I suppose the people at Riverlife would know better.


dfiler
Member
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That makes it sound like the project is in jeopardy. Is there anything to indicate that?

The last reporting I saw was that the redesigned, leaner switchback structure was fully funded and construction was scheduled to start in spring 2016.


cycleguy
Member
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Unfortunately,I am also hearing the switchback will not start this year due to lack of funds.Let’s hope maybe they will start in 2017


chrishent
Member
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@dfiler I guess I wasn’t clear, but I meant that the City said that the project was likely for 2016. No indication was given that it was in jeopardy.

However, I wonder if the recent announcement regarding the design and installation of a cycle track on Ft. Pitt Blvd (see here: http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/public-meeting-downtown-bike-infrastructure-expansion-12142015/#post-324692) was influenced by any developments (or lack thereof) on the switchback project. Again, this is just speculation on my part.


dfiler
Member
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@cycleguy – where did you hear that? Last reporting I saw was that the structure was redesigned to be cheaper and it was fully funded.


cycleguy
Member
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I heard it from 2 other cyclists in my bicycle club,(Western Pa. Rails to Trails).One of the riders was talking to a couple engineers who will be working on the switchback.They stated that the cost will be more than the city originally projected and it won’t get started until atleast 2017.I was very disappointed to also hear of this new!!


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Not sure I buy it. For starters, it’s not a City project, and from everything I’ve seen the City’s involvement is minimal. It’s Riverlife’s project, and they’re mainly dealing with the State DCNR, AFAIK…


Vannevar
Participant
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Buf-Buffalo, I’m not sure b/c my info comes from the realm of scuttlebutt, which is perhaps as accurate as web comments. hah. I was under the impression that the city (read, Team Peduto) carved out a major chuck of cash to pay for this last year. It would be nice if Riverview provided an update. Hmm, twitter. I’ll ask.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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I was wrong about the City not being involved. But it apparently went out to bid last month:


jonawebb
Participant
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Well, that means a 2017 start date, at the earliest. No way it will be built this year.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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I did ask for an estimate of the start/end dates, and got back:


J Z
Participant
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Ugh.


Vannevar
Participant
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Given the Team Peduto affinity for transparent processes, I was hoping to find the bid document online but couldn’t.


cycleguy
Member
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Even though Peduto is for this switchback project, Again I am hearing 2017, (and maybe even longer), because the city just doesn’t have the funding.


Vannevar
Participant
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I don’t doubt that Peduto’s got his mind in the right place. That’s the one solid thing and if that goes, it’s going to be sad.

I imagine that if too many more years pass, without a DC-Pgh cyclist getting killed using an alt-route, we’ll have demonstrated that the switchback is gee-whiz optional and it’ll fail to get funded in the face of other priorities. Also, pretty soon we’re going to be in a Mayoral election and that can change a lot of priorities. (although I suppose, we’re already in a Mayoral election season)

I mean, you can’t get to MP-0 on the C&O without riding a few blocks of city streets from the trail to the marker, either.

We’ll just have to see.


dfiler
Member
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@cycleguy, it helps to say how you’re hearing stuff. Remember, this is the Internet, and us being strangers it’s hard to guess what’s well informed and what’s speculation. Was the info confirmed with someone who has direct involvement with the bidding and funding process? Or did the same friend just repeat what their understanding isn’t meant as an argument. I’m honestly interested in what is known.

I see this as more important for city residents than GAP travelers. It provides a connection from the jail trail to the north shore without needing to ride downtown streets. With those trails being part of a larger network, even more places are now reachable without downtown riding. A trail around the perimeter of downtown allows access to most locations with minimized riding in traffic. Connecting the point to he GAP is a great publicity milestone, but nearly all of the switchback users will be locals.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Via Twitter from Riverlife:
Bid documents available here:
http://www.dot14.state.pa.us/ECMS/SVBSLBidPackage?action=Show&ECMS_PROJECT_NUM=73,390&BID_PACKAGE_NUM=1
(“log in as guest” first, then re-enter the url if necessary.)

It appears deadline for submitting bids is 04/07/2016.

Anticipated NTP*: 05/13/2016
Required Completion: 12/28/2016

* Notice To Proceed, I believe.

So, there’s that….


cycleguy
Member
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@ dfiler….All I can tell you, from what I am hearing, NOT FROM THE INTERNET,but 2 reliable sources who were talking to the engineers(Macklin) bidding to do the work on this project,stating they will not be starting this year due to lack of city funds.Good chance they might be taking bids within the next month to see who finally gets the bid.It;s possible these engineers don’t know what they’re talking about either.Again,this is just what I am hearing. and am hoping this is all B.S. It would be great to see them actually start to do the work this year,but I wouldn’t count on it.


dfiler
Member
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Thanks, just trying to understand what info is available.

So we have an engineer that has said it isn’t funded by the city of Pittsburgh.

The state’s website indicates that the bidding process is underway. There are some interesting technical questions from a bidder that were asked and answered on that website in the past couple weeks.

Bidding is scheduled to end two weeks from today. Anticipated notice to proceed is 7 weeks and 1 day from today. Required completion date is a 12/28/16.

I can’t claim to know if the ongoing bidding process is an indication of funding or not. My fingers are crossed that it is still on track.


RiverlifePgh
Participant
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Dear BikePGH community,

I wanted to provide you with an update on the Mon Wharf Switchback project.

As many of you may know, the Mon Wharf Switchback project for a connection from the Smithfield Street Bridge linking to Point State Park was put out to bid by PennDOT on behalf of the City of Pittsburgh on February 18, 2016.

Two bids were received on April 7, 2016. Much to everyone’s disappointment, the bids were significantly higher than the construction estimate and the funds on hand.

Given the high bids, the City and PennDOT have declined to move forward with either bid. Riverlife, the City of Pittsburgh and various state entities are looking at further design and construction efficiencies to reduce the overall cost, and will attempt to raise additional support for the project. The goal is to rebid the project in 2016 and to have it constructed in 2017.

We will keep you informed as we continue to move forward with this project. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any additional questions. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Stephan Bontrager, Riverlife
stephan@riverlifepgh.org


stefb
Participant
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Lame. Looks like I get to play frogger in traffic for a few more years. Disappointing.


gg
Member
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That is too bad. Thanks for taking the time to update us Stephan. Bad news, but at least we know there is no chance of this happening anytime soon. Guess we keep cutting through the parking lot, hoping a sidewalk and crossing a pile of busy streets to get from the point to the Southside.


cycleguy
Member
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I’m glad,but also sad and disappointed, RiverlifePgh is hearing the same as I am.Apparently these engineers,(Macklin), doing the bidding knew what they were talking about when they said the funding is just too expensive and doesn’t have the funding to construct the Switchback.Let’s hope for 2017,but I wouldn’t count on it.


Ahlir
Participant
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Can I get a refund on my donation?


stefb
Participant
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Yeah. That. Because, as we mentioned before, it sounded like a done deal


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Could we get these people to build us a ramp?


chrishent
Member
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This is a bummer, but considering the current proposal, it’s not surprising that construction bids would be high.

That being said, I think there is a way to reduce costs here. The preferred location for the ramp is on the upstream sidewalk, so as to avoid having go across Smithfield St. This, to me, is a want, rather than a need, since the end goal is to connect the GAP to the Point. It is entirely plausible that the ramp could be located on the downstream sidewalk. This strikes me as an easier location to deal with, given what’s already there and I think having it on that side would be cheaper. Yes, having to go across Smithfield would essentially replicate the current setup at the end of the Jail Trail and Grant St, which is annoying. But it is not a deal breaker.


Benzo
Participant
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I just hope they make it wide enough. I really don’t want to have to dismount. If it’s as wide as hot metal or ft. duquesne, that would be ideal, less so if it’s as narrow as the bike/ped bridge from washington’s landing to the trail. It’s navigable by bike, but only barely and not when there are many concurrent users.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Like the Fort Pitt sidewalk, which does not scale at all. Another example of a sidewalk that’s too narrow is the upstream 40th St Bridge. Two opposing cyclists meeting at speed run the risk of skinning a right elbow. Whatever width either of those is, add at least three feet.


Azucarmom
Member
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Agree with Crishent. It seems like using the existing, very wide sidewalk, would be the best bet for cost reduction, with some sort light control that stops traffic in all directions to cross Smithfield and ft pitt blvd. This is part of my morning commute and the only sketchy part is hoping those trying to turn see/care that someone is trying to use the cross walks. Once I’m on Ft Pitt blvd, it’s fine other than the delivery trucks, etc that sit in the right lane and make me play dodgem. All that could be avoided by having the trail/sidewalk on that side and coordinated with the lights. Getting into the point is easy enough by cutting through that little parking lot, but even that could use the sidewalks and a lighting system to avoid being onroad. Does it mean you’d have to wait at lights sometimes? Yes, but it wouldn’t be a bad alternative if the switchback project never gets out of the planning stages.


RiverlifePgh
Participant
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For those who donated to the Switchback project via Indiegogo, Riverlife staff members are in the process of reaching out to each contributor. While we hope donors will continue to support the project, we understand if some people would like a refund.

If you don’t hear from us within the next week and would like to discuss your donation, please contact me directly at stephan@riverlifepgh.org and I’ll connect you to a member of our development department.

Thanks,
Stephan


Eric
Member
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Eric
Member
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http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2016/09/29/More-bike-lanes-set-for-Downtown-East-Street/stories/201609290092

 

Do these newly announced Fort Pitt Blvd Bike lanes from Grant street to the point now make the Switchback superfluous?  i.e., is this the death knell for the switchback?

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