Mon Wharf Switchback update from Riverlife

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RiverlifePgh
Participant
#

The Mon Wharf switchback is still moving forward and is expected to be re-bid for construction in October, with a construction contract awarded in December if an acceptable bid comes in at or under budget. The switchback and Fort Pitt bike lane will complement each other and enhance the overall bike/ped network Downtown. The switchback offer riders the riverfront scenic route while the Ft. Pitt lanes offer the business district street-level experience (also a detour for when the Mon Wharf floods). We’re excited that both options will exist for GAP riders and all other users.

Thanks for your post –
Stephan @ Riverlife


erok
Keymaster
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thanks for the update


dfiler
Member
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I too considered that when seeing that another route has been funded. My take is that both are needed in order to build a bike route network.

From a recreational standpoint, the switchbacks will make it viable for casual trail users to get between the river front trail system and the point. For many of these people, a route through downtown, even if physically protected, is not suitable. The city needs just a few more of these expensive connector projects and there will be a world class riverfront trail network. It will be one of Pittsburgh’s defining features and selling points. This cannot be stressed enough.

From a commuting or purely transportation perspective, the fort pitt blvd to standwix to penn ave is also vital. It will drastically reduce the distance of travel, mixed in with automotive traffic, to much of downtown.

I’d go further and say that even more streets need bike lanes. A partial network is nearly useless in comparison to a complete network. Partial networks mostly just benefit bike advocates and enthusiasts. We’re willing to deal with traffic. But a complete network makes biking viable for the masses.


erok
Keymaster
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good points. i think that most people not only don’t recognize the value and uniqueness of what we have with our trial system, but don’t even know it’s there.

 


unicyclemike
Keymaster
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Thanks for the update Stephan.

Also very glad to see that Mon Warf Flooding has been taken into consideration with Ft. Pitt lanes.

 


unicyclemike
Keymaster
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Thanks for the update Stephan.

Also very glad to see that Mon Warf Flooding has been taken into consideration with Ft. Pitt lanes.

 


jonawebb
Participant
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Vannevar
Participant
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kind of a remarkably positive series of comments in the P-G.
Reluctant to say anything lest I disturb the Force.


RiverlifePgh
Participant
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Dear BikePGH community,

Riverlife is very pleased to announce that as of yesterday, February 1, the City of Pittsburgh awarded the bid for construction of the switchback! The next step now is to determine a date for the contractor’s notice to proceed/groundbreaking. We look forward to announcing the groundbreaking date publicly in the near future and celebrating the start of this long-anticipated project.

Cheers,
Stephan Bontrager, Riverlife Communications Director
stephan@riverlifepgh.org


The Iguana
Participant
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Trail update: Mon Wharf Switchback construction awarded

Riverlife is very pleased to announce that as of February 1 the City of Pittsburgh awarded the bid for construction of the Mon Wharf switchback, a bicycle and pedestrian ramp that will connect the Smithfield Street Bridge to the Mon Wharf Landing. Riverlife has served in a leadership role in planning and fundraising for the project.

Plans for spring construction mobilization are underway. The next step is to determine a date for the contractor’s notice to proceed and groundbreaking.

We look forward to announcing the groundbreaking date publicly in the near future and celebrating the start of this long-anticipated project!


cycleguy
Member
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I also “heard” this Spring,construction is to begin.I don’t want to be a pessimist,but I also have my doubts because this project was to begin a number of years ago and every year an excuse,(most times lack of funds)  reasons why construction won’t start.Spring is only a few weeks away and we’ll see if the construction starts.I’ll be happy if work even begins sometime this year. Just curious, but does anyone have an idea when this switchback will be complete?? Even if construction begins this spring,I would assume the switchback won’t be finished until 2018.


Eric
Member
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@cycleguy, the holdups before were that the estimates that came back were overbudget.  This happened at least one, maybe twice, maybe more.  They had to rework the project to make it less expensive.

The process worked — they have a budget, they have a proposal, they sent it out to bid and they found a company willing to build it within the budget.  So all is good, this will be built.  They’re waiting to break ground.


cycleguy
Member
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@ edroline…….Again,i will believe it when I see it.I’m not a pessimist by nature(in fact I’m an upbeat,optimist person),but I’ve just seen  too many times in years past that they were definitely going to start construction and a monkey wrench was thrown in.Hopefully your right,but I am still going to take a wait and see attitude so I won’t be too disappointed like so many times in the past.I want to be wrong and see the construction start this spring!!


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Is there any news about DCNR’s plan to build a wider trail from the Mon Wharf around the pier of the Fort Pitt Bridge to Point State Park? The current trail is wide enough for only one cyclist at a time.


erok
Keymaster
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Welp, Riverlife just sent this out in an email:

Mon Wharf Switchback site prepared for construction
A long time coming, the Mon Wharf Switchback ramp project is moving forward in a big way. Last week the eastern end of the Mon Wharf was prepared for construction to begin on the ramp.  The switchback is a riverfront access project of Riverlife in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh.

Envisioned over eight years ago, the Switchback will fill an important gap in Pittsburgh’s riverfront trail system. The completed project will connect the Great Allegheny Passage to the Mon Wharf Landing via the historic Smithfield Street Bridge, taking cyclists and pedestrians seamlessly into Point State Park along a scenic riverfront route.

Check out more photos here, and we can’t wait to share updates with you as this exciting project advances this spring and summer!


edmonds59
Participant
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Nice.


RustyRed
Member
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Genuinely excited to see this happen because I’d be using this DAILY, (both directions) to bypass the streets Downtown.

I wonder when it’ll be finished…


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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I wonder when it’ll be finished…

When do you expect to retire, or to no longer need to use it on a daily basis?

Add six months.


Altay
Member
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Here’s the link to the photos, for the lazy.


Eric
Member
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Not to be a spoil sport, but it seems that the switchback dumps off onto a narrow sidewalk, then goes a few feet, then onto another sidewalk along whatever that road is. That’s a potential bottleneck/people riding up the switch back ending up off the curb into the street, etc. etc. too bad the top couldn’t be wider.

now I really need to stop whining, because we’re getting an honest to goodness connection to point state park.


Kieran
Member
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Any word on the point state park connector? Specifically I’m referring to http://riverlifepgh.org/riverfront-guide/point-state-park-connector/


paulheckbert
Moderator
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The Riverlife info on the switchback ramp says “The Switchback will be fully illuminated for use after dark.” I’m more interested in what it will be like in 5 years than what it will look like on the day of the ribbon-cutting. A disappointment with the Mon Wharf is that it hasn’t aged well and hasn’t been maintained: the bluestone has eroded faster than the concrete, creating a cycling hazard for those with narrow tires, and the lights got smashed out years ago and were never fixed: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/muddy-mon-wharf-trail-out-of-sight-out-of-mind-630670/


dfiler
Member
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Edronline, that sidewalk is wider than a normal sidewalk. It has always seemed luxuriously wide when I’ve ridden it; wide enough for two way bike traffic even with wide mtb handlebars. Hopefully it feels the same for you.

As for trail surface of the mon warf? I’m ok with that too. I’d prefer not spending tons of money making a trail system catering to ultra skinny tires. With the winter climate generating potholes, brick streets and gravel trails, it’s an unrealistic expectation. That’s like expecting all our roads to be smooth enough for a low clearance Lamborghini or F1 race cars. Road bikes are the equivalent of an F1 car. They’re great as long as you have perfectly smooth pavement. Thankfully the bike industry has provided us with better options than the old-school, traditional road bike. Slightly wider tires are waaaay better suited for the vast majority of people. That extra few percent performance isn’t worth the trade-off of needing to pamper the bike with perfect conditions. Cross, gravel, touring, hybrid, mountain… all better options for city riding.

 


Eric
Member
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Wait. I’m obviously missng something. I thought the mon wharf was just parking right now. You can get to it?   And if so, how can you get there from the point st park side?  It looks like it is blocked by the park parking lot…


Gordon
Participant
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@edronline: yes, you could get to Mon Wharf from Smithfield Bridge following the directions shown in the video below (begin @25:37)


paulheckbert
Moderator
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I don’t have a video, a maritime chorus, or animated graphics like Gordon’s cool video, but I do have a map. The key landmarks: from Fort Pitt Blvd & Wood St, take Mon Wharf Parking ramp down, follow Mon downstream, pass under Fort Pitt Bridge, emerge magically into Point State Park.

mon_wharf_route

 


alleghenian
Member
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There are also staircases down to the Mon wharf at the end of Wood St. and at the end of Stanwix, which are sort of on a median between the Fort Pitt Blvd. lanes but have pedestrian signals to access.

Once this switchback is complete I think it is going to be very heavily used immediately, and maybe that means maintenance on the Mon Wharf trail will be prioritized. That trail is probably being relatively ignored now because it is so hard to get to and basically goes nowhere, so it is barely used.

I’ll bet there will be bike traffic jams around a chokepoint seen at 28:40 in Gordon’s video.


Steven
Participant
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The Point State Park connector should bypass that chokepoint, going out over the river to reach the park. They’ve said in the past that it would be built at the same time as the Mon Wharf Switchback, so both the east and west ends of the wharf would have good connections. I haven’t heard anything recently though.

Hopefully they’ll build it with materials that can stand up well to the periodic flooding it’ll presumably get.


dfiler
Member
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To answer edronline’s question, yeah there is already a trail on the mon-warf, not just parking. It was designed to mostly just need hosing off after debris is deposited during the regular flooding.

Previously I read that the plan was to complete the point park connector at the same time as the switchback ramp. Hopefully that is still the case. The proposal/plan I saw involved a floating section of trail to get around the duquesne bridge pylons. That would be keep it near the river rather than routing up and around as depicted by the red line on Paul’s map. In the picture above, you can see that there isn’t much land to work with under the bridge. A floating section of trail would work well although I don’t know if it made the final plan or budget.


Benzo
Participant
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Here’s the narrow section of the ‘point state park connector’ trail between the wharf and the point on google street view. It would be tough to get two bikes on it going different directions to pass safely and easily without slowing down or stopping.

You can see it on the left hand side of the roadway which passes under ramps to/from the ft. pitt bridge.

https://www.google.com/maps/@40.4392708,-80.0084621,3a,75y,276.5h,78.63t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1slTS1M268LLoH-oBRcPUXuw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  Benzo.
  • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  Benzo.

dfiler
Member
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It’s also much steeper than it looks in the picture. That belgian block slope is around 45 degrees.

Even tougher is that one of the ramp/bridge piers is directly in the way. PennDOT probably wouldn’t appreciate messing with the dirt around a bridge foundation.

A floating trail wouldn’t be terribly difficult though. It would be nearly identical to floating docks used at any marina, just with railings on the side.


Eric
Member
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At 45 degree sloped and, per someone else’s post, slippy, are we talking about “novice riders sliding into the Mon” currently?


dfiler
Member
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The 45 degree belgian block slope isn’t part of the trail. It’s the impassible section between the west end of the trail and point state park. If I recall correctly, it is also blocked by chainlink fencing.

The mon warf trail/park itself is beautifully paved with large cut slabs of stones and lined with stone benches and trees. It is nearly flat with perhaps a 3 degree slope toward the river to make sure there isn’t standing water.

Riverlifepgh.org has a few pictures:

Monongahela Wharf Landing

 


Eric
Member
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According to the post gazette (I can’t link to article because of pay wall) the switch back will be done late 2017 or 2018 and the connector part is undergoing final design with no estimate given for completion date.


Benzo
Participant
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Well, even if the connector is not done, access is still there. I’m sure it will crank up the pressure to get it done to avoid user conflicts. Heck, maybe they will still be able to have continuous access while building the new connector since it may have an alternate route. No good guesses on that though.


Steven
Participant
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FWIW, the artist’s rendering of the Point State Park Connector at the top of this page seems to show a path climbing up over the top of the sloped Belgian block area, not out over the water. Direct link to the image. A design away from the water would probably need much less maintenance than something in the water. (Marinas seem to get smashed up on a pretty regular basis.)


Eric
Member
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The pg article says that the $$$ is there for the connector. BTW


Steven
Participant
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Of course, the $$$ was there for the switchback ramp too, until they finished the design, sent the construction project out to bid, and discovered the lowest bid was $$$$$$$ and the money that was there was only $$$. I think this is the third try for the switchback ramp, and at last they’ve got a design that matches the amount of money they have. The connector project is still on round one.


Eric
Member
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^^^ buzzkill


Benzo
Participant
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I’m just hoping that there is access this way, even if it’s stupid and narrow for now.

Then I’m hoping that when they build the new point to mon wharf connector that they can keep the existing path open for traffic during construction.

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