Mon Wharf Switchback update from Riverlife
Yes, the Commonwealth Place wormhole. That one is even harder to get started on, and it requires a much greater leap of faith to keep going! Plus the Commonwealth Place end doesn’t connect to any bicycle infrastructure, just city streets.
We did use it to get to valet parking for the 3 Rivers Art Festival once, after changing our intended route to guide some DC-Pittsburgh through-riders from the Elize Furnace trail under the Birmingham Bridge into Point State Park. Since we were already going that way, it was easier to say “come with us” than to explain.
Mary’s first photo.
Mary’s second photo.
Mary, how you get photos into a Bike-Pgh message board post is to first do what you did, post the photos somewhere on the Internet. Then click through on Fb or wherever to where the photo itself is. Right-click on the photo, and from the menu, choose “copy URL of photo” (text varies by browser). Back over to here. In the text area here, insert the photo as follows, replacing my square brackets with angle brackets:
Thanks. Silly me, I’ve been trying to use the “add media” button above the formatting tool bar. It says to upload files by dragging them into the dialog area or by selecting with their file browser. I do, it says it’s downloading, then it reports that the download failed.
Put it on the web, share the link. Got it.
Would be nice if someone painted a directional/guide line between point state park and the ramp until wayfinding signs are up. To get it done officially would be impossible .
I really like the ramp. It cuts travel time from the 1st. Ave. T station to the point in half, He is some video demonstrating that. The only problem I have is the light post and sign, as well as the bridge column that appear without any warning coming up the ramp from the wharf and into the maintenance area. Start the first video at 5:15 to see the sign and column I am referring to.
To the point via switchback ramp and Mon Wharf:
To 1st Ave. Station via city streets:
OK now have photos to go with the narrative for getting from Mon Wharf to Point State Park via the Mon Wharf Wormhole. Repeating the text so everything is in one place.
At the bottom of the ramp, continue along the river on the bike/ped esplanade. You will have to shift over into the parking lot at some point. The best place is after the boat ramp (marked by white stakes in the water) and just before the empty bridge pier. There’s a set of metal bollards and no curb not too far before you get to the bridge pier. Beyond here, there is a curb with no curb cut and there are several hazardous open trenches. Continue to the end of the parking lot. There is an unpromising walkway next to the retaining wall with (high overhead) a sign “Walkway to stadiums”. Go up this.
It is pretty narrow, but it works. There are a couple of tight spots
You come out in the maintenance area behind a big blue dumpster. Keep going straightish, you’ll see the park as you come under the bridge.
Good pictures. Maybe we should paint “Welcome to Pittsburgh’s Point State Park” on that big blue dumpster.
I checked out the ramp last night and am so happy that such major infrastructure has been built! The mon war itself is going to get much more attention now. Relatively few people have visited it before but it really is a great experience down there. The river view is amazing and there is even a line of fairly mature trees. I couldn’t see what they were last night but the leaves are a dark red at this point in the year.
One minor niggle is that the ramp itself is not a steady slope. It flattens out for a few feet as it passes over support columns. A consistent grade with no flat spots would have been better. Roads aren’t built like that and pedestrian/bike ramps shouldn’t be either. But that’s a pretty minor complaint in comparison to the connectivity this ramp provides.
When the point state park / mon warf connector is built, the entire route will be amazing. Until then it is definitely confusing. The sidewalk connection through parking lots is functional and traffic-free, but first time visitors will have to stop and figure things out. I rode on through at speed and needed to hop some drainage channels in the pavement. They’ve at least 6 inches wide and quite deep, a perfect gap between concrete sections. Typical riders could easily bury a wheel if not squared up with a good grip.
The “flat spots” are an ADA requirement for wheelchair users. Ramps are required to have a level 5 foot minimum landing at no greater than every 30 inches vertically. Imagine try to pull a wheelchair up that ramp without intermittent places to rest. They’re a feature, not a bug. :)
Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the education.
Anyone else getting an OCD reaction to the non-straight sight-lines down the handrails? lol
Thanks for the info edmonds, I had the same reaction to the flat spots that @dfiler had. These are multi-use facilities after all, and I’m actually glad that the flat spots are there now that I know why.
I think the light post with the “Motor Vehicles Only. Pedestrians Prohibited” sign should be removed. someone going past there at a fast enough speed could crash into it as the is no warning as well as being visually obstructed by the bridge column.
The flat spots could also provide a tired cyclist a place to get off and rest for a few seconds without the bike rolling down the ramp. In regards to ADA compliance, why doesn’t the staircase on Joncaire St. require a ramp to be ADA compliant?
Don’t want to get too far off the topic, but the simple answer is that the ADA doesn’t cover city steps like in pittsburgh. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t make a ramp next to city steps, just that it isn’t required. PNC park built a ramp next to the steps by the 6th street bridge, but they weren’t forced to build that by ADA. My source was a quick google search and finding some official-ish looking websites,so I could be wrong.
In my opinion, the city staircases should be exempt from wheelchair requirements. There just isn’t space. And frankly, there is not enough money to repair the existing staircases. Building even one or two ramps would eat the entire budget for trying to maintain all several hundred staircases.
I did a search and in the summaries, it said churches and other places where Federal Civil Rights laws do not apply are the only exemptions to the ADA. It says Steps on private property are also exempt, but the city steps are not on private property. Staircases by there very nature exclude wheelchairs unless a stair lift or ramp is also provided.
1. The ADA Standards Define What Is an Architectural Barrier.
One form of discrimination that the ADA combats is the presence of architectural barriers that prevent the full and equal enjoyment of public accommodations. In some cases this is more obvious. For instance, a facility containing only stairs without a means for people in wheelchairs to maneuver through the facility (such as via ramps or elevators) precludes them from the full and equal enjoyment of the public accommodation.
- This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by zzwergel.
This is getting off topic both for this thread and for the bike pgh message board .
The switchback is now showing on Google Maps, and can be used to generate routes.
Also, I’m of a similar mind as zzwergel^ on the forest of signs that have been installed at the Grant crossing in an attempt to keep drivers from driving into oncoming traffic. If someone is so fucking stupid that they need all those signs to keep from doing stupid, they shouldn’t be operating a motor vehicle.
- This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by edmonds59.
I just rode on this for the first time this morning and there are workers rebuilding some sidewalk down by the end of the wharf toward the point, presumably fixing the drainage trenches! Hopefully they are also adding a curb cut.
Regarding the forest of signs at Grant Crossing — I agree there are too many. But there are lots of ramps coming in and PennDOT probably has standards requiring each one.
But independent of the number of signs, there’s the unfortunate placement of signposts. In particular, one of the Do Not Enter (or maybe it’s a Wrong Way) signs is held up by two posts planted directly in the line of bike/ped travel. Even if you believe that sign is needed, there are other ways to mount it. For example, hanging from the bridge overhead, or even on a single post mounted to the jersey barrier.
PennDOT can probably cite a rule requiring each of those signs. We could argue with them about that, or we could point out that they created a pedestrian safety hazard in the way they’re mounted and get them to mount them in a more reasonable way
If you look in Google Street view, it looks like in recent years some of the signs that used to be on one post have been remounted on two posts, creating additional obstacles.
There has been modest progress. In mid-2007 (yes, over 10 years ago) I sent the then-bike/ped coordinator a photo of the intersection with the note “A bicyclist or pedestrian at the crosswalk [headed toward downtown] sees four do-not-enter signs, three wrong-way signs, two one-way-against-you signs, a no left turn sign and, for good measure a no-pedestrians sign. The gray-colored crosswalk and the pedestrian signal offer helpful hints, but the overwhelming impression is ‘not this way!’ ” Discussion at the time was about how bad it was to plant the signposts in the trail. This did lead to the “shared sidewalk” sign about a year later, though that’s just one sign in the forest of “DON’T” signs. The green paint and vertical markers (which also restrict the width of the passageway) came a decade after that — last year IIRC. To get things done you have to keep asking.
It’s not the signs that are a problem but rather how the sign posts were installed in the middle of a sidewalk. PennDOT does not take sidewalk users into account when placing signs. This is true for both temporary and permanent signage. Hopefully at least a bit of the complete streets philosophy takes root at PennDOT someday.
I’ve had good luck with getting PennDOT to fix sign placement issues by complaining to https://www.dot.state.pa.us/penndot/districts/district11/d11ccc.nsf (use Internet Explorer). It could be as simple as nobody ever complaining in the right way.
I’ll second this. I’ve complained a lot to Penndot about their construction signs taking up the whole sidewalk on Freeport Road in Aspinwall and they were amazingly responsive — it may be that the penndot office is just down the street on Fox Chapel Road, but I got a response within a day and the sign was moved after that. The guy who answers them at that office basically said, “Yeah, they don’t think when they put out these signs.”
However, it is much easier to move a temporary sign over 2 feet than a permanent sign. That may be a whole other ballgame
In the past, we’ve also emailed PennDOT about temporary signs blocking sidewalks (and received and amazingly quick response)… it never occurred to me to complain about the permanent ones. I just emailed the project director of District 11-0 who’s been quick to take action. *crossing fingers*
(off topic) while we are at it, let’s say something about the temporary signs at the bottom of the sidewalk for the Boulevard of the Allies’ ramp towards the Liberty bridge. This section is new, and not quite finished yet (some railing is missing) but there are weight restriction signs at the bottom. If this weight restriction is permanent, put a freaking permanent sign!
What about the “Motor Vehicles Only” sign that comes without warning when on the “Walkway to Stadiums”? I think the sign and light post should be moved to the other side of the highway ramp.
Small but significant improvements at the other end of the Mon Wharf:
Big thanks to @PGHParking for working with us to replace the drainage trench covers and create a temporary access ramp…
Drainages are now covered and there is a curb ramp for access. Progress!
I finally got to ride this and it was very nice.
Does anybody know, is there a plan to put any signage in the wormhole?
Or will Pgh just tell visitors, go to the blue dumpster, but don’t go out on the highway?
At the very least, a treatment like the Allegheny Cemetery, just having a single unobtrusive line to follow, would do wonders.
At the very least, they could hang a “Great Allegheny Passage ” sign with a right-pointing arrow under the “No Left Turn” sign at the entry to the wormhole by the big blue dumpster.
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by MaryShaw. Reason: correct typing error
Even the Park Rangers complain about the conditions… I passed one on the sidewalk on my morning commute in the wormhole area and he yelled out (because you’ll need to yell above the noise of the Parkways in order to be heard): “Maybe they’ll fix this sometime soon?!”
I have some updates on the western end. Apparently DCNR has the money to complete it. I’m doing a walk thru soon on how it will happen. I do know, that if and when it happens, they will be closing the connection during construction, unfortunately. Will update when i know more info, but they are hoping for 2019.
Also of note: City will not be salting or maintaining the new switchback this winter. They claim that the concrete needs a full year to cure before salt can be applied to it. For the sake of it lasting for at least another generation to enjoy, i think that’s a small trade off.
However, it’s not clear yet how they will be telling the public this information, whether they will be closing it down when it ices up, etc.
Re closing the wormhole during construction of proper connection …
It may be that the logistics of construction require closure of the current route, but City regs require a reasonable detour. This might, for example, use the Commonwealth Place wormhole or even serve as a forcing function for the next phase of the downtown bike lanes.
Citing authority for the requirement: Pittsburgh DPW policies of June 2017 say “…for long term closures … a site specific MPT plan must be … submitted for approval … must … show site specific detail, and provide accommodations for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.” (http://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/dpw/Right_of_Way_Procedures_Policy_Manual_2017-06-01_(1).pdf , p.13, section 6.7)
We should forcefully insist on a reasonable detour
Re salting the switchback: The ban on salting for the first year is likely true. When we put in a new driveway, we were told not to salt — but we could use sand. So not salting in exchange for long life is a reasonable tradeoff, but salt isn’t the only way to manage snow.
A few years ago Friends locked snow shovels to the ends of the Hot Metal Bridge. Anyone willing to shovel could get the combination. We could do that on the switchback as well.
Citing authority for the requirement: Pittsburgh DPW policies of June 2017 say “…for long term closures … a site specific MPT plan must be … submitted for approval … must … show site specific detail, and provide accommodations for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.”
When the Science Center closed the NST for significant duration to complete their expansion the detour simply consisted of the nearest street, North Shore Drive, and the city was not willing to upgrade the route in any way for cyclists.
This is really only meant to be a general example, however, since the city’s Stanwix-to-3rd connection between the switchback and the Point will be in place by the time DCNR will likely get started.
The Casino demolition disaster of 2008 was one of the triggers for requiring MPTs for bicycle routes as well as auto routes. Science Center trail work was 2014, I think, and the city has gotten progressively better about providing detours. The policy I cited is dated June 2017.
At this point the City knows how to do detours and has a policy requiring them. But it’s on us to keep reminding them.
If the new bike/bus and bike lanes are fully in place before the construction starts, a detour could be posted using those. However, remember that trail users include families who really don’t want to ride in traffic with their kids, so the connection would need to be complete. For example, IIRC the route westbound from Wood to Stanwix will still be sharrows, not a protected lane. I’m also waiting to see how the intersection of Stanwix and Third will work for eastbound traffic into the contraflow lane.
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