Opportunity for Input – Pocusset Street in Schenley Park
Ahlir wrote:Post-Gazette headline:
Bicyclists plunge to their death as roadway collapses
Comments: They deserved it because they do not stop at stop signs.
So is there any chance at all that, after/during bridge reconstruction, Saline Street will be extended under the bridge, to hook up with the closed part of Pocusset Street?
I don’t remember Pocusset being mentioned at all in the discussion of Greenfield.
It would be incredible if they did, that’s for sure. Do we have an idea, even just order of magnitude, what the cost of such a thing would be?
Saline to the end of Pocusset is 140ft of elevation change; the straight line distance is ~500ft, so that’s something like 30% grade. You could cut that down if there’s room to go under the bridge, but it doesn’t seem like it would be easy to build a trail on that hillside.
Of course, there might be room for switchbacks, etc. I don’t know the terrain there at all, but it might be worth exploring.
BTW, we probably covered this before but what’s the deal with the other Saline St? Did it used to connect before the Parkway existed?
jonawebb wrote:We should come up with a name for the disused road / trail that runs up to Prospect.
@salty, I’m not sure about the street, but here’s an old photo before the highway was built.
Route of Penn-Lincoln Parkway in Saline Valley, November 13, 1947
I can’t seem to find a precedent for this, ie, taking a road that formerly carried motor vehicles, and converting it to non-motorized traffic only.
I just ran into a road-trail (as opposed to rail-trail) like this in Niagara Falls NY: two of four lanes of the Robert Moses Parkway were converted from car use to very-wide bike trail in the 2000s. See map http://goo.gl/6pxcO7 and history http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Moses_State_Parkway .
And they’re planning to eliminate even more of that road: http://www.buffalonews.com/20130220/state_will_rip_out_robert_moses_parkway_in_niagara_falls.html . It says “The road provided unparalleled views … to motorists but cut off generations of city residents from the waterfront”. Sounds like I376 in downtown Pittsburgh.
salty wrote:Saline to the end of Pocusset is 140ft of elevation change; the straight line distance is ~500ft, so that’s something like 30% grade. You could cut that down if there’s room to go under the bridge, but it doesn’t seem like it would be easy to build a trail on that hillside.
Of course, there might be room for switchbacks, etc. I don’t know the terrain there at all, but it might be worth exploring.
Maybe the trail could be built to follow the ravine around through the park and join up with Saline Street further west. Also, has anyone else ever noticed the old stone retaining wall that is in Schenley Park, maybe about 50′ below Greenfield Road and overlooking the parkway? It looks like there used to be some sort of trail built on top of this wall. Perhaps it could be reused if a new trail is built.
salty wrote:BTW, we probably covered this before but what’s the deal with the other Saline St? Did it used to connect before the Parkway existed?
Here’s another way to view the old Saline/Forward Street:
Just pan over to the Greenfield bridge area and slide the bar back to 1923 or 1939 to see the old maps or aerial photos of the area. My apologies to everyone’s bosses.
jonawebb wrote:I don’t remember Pocusset being mentioned at all in the discussion of Greenfield.
If you mean the public meeting with Public Works regarding the bridge replacement, there was a limited mention of Pocusset. It was mentioned that it is a winding, narrow road that is unsafe for pedestrians. The consensus was reached that sidewalks on the new bridge should only be built on the west side of the road, since there is nowhere to go on that side of the bridge once you enter Schenley Park. All of which was true at the time.
byogman wrote:It would be incredible if they did, that’s for sure. Do we have an idea, even just order of magnitude, what the cost of such a thing would be?
We’re talking about two different things here. One is reopening Pocusett Drive between Prospect and Pocusset Street. I’m guessing that can be done at little cost, since the road is still in decent shape. All you’d have to do is remove the guardrail at the bottom and replace the guardrail at the top with a gate or something to block auto access, and clear the road.
The other is connecting the Schenley Park-side of Greenfield Bridge to Saline Street below. This is a much more expensive project, but it is still feasible. I have a message from a county engineer: “Note the elevation difference between 948 and 810 at the end of the pavement is 138’. With 500 feet straight between them, average slope will be 28%. Stairs will be steeper with the landings. All is on city property. Running the alignment behind the building to Naylor Street would result in a longer route 700’) that is less steep (20% average).” He’s referring to the topographic map I’ve uploaded here. I think that’s an expensive project, which could have been done as part of the Greenfield Bridge demolition, but I don’t think it was included in the plans, even though it was raised at the public meetings etc.
paulheckbert wrote:two of four lanes of the Robert Moses Parkway were converted from car use to very-wide bike trail in the 2000s.
I’m really glad to hear that it’s the “former” Robert Moses Parkway, and that part of it has been opened up and converted to bicycle usage. I’m reading a biography of Robert Moses now, and what a rat bastard he was. Many of the problems we have with poor infrastructure planning and overreliance on cars can be traced directly to him.
I’m so glad they’re tearing down that stretch of the Robert Moses! I used to live right next to it, almost in the picture at the top of the Buffalo News story. Hopping across the little barrier and running over the parkway to the gorge trail wasn’t very hard from my house, especially since there was hardly any traffic – nothing like 376. But it’s definitely an eyesore, and a lot harder to cross for people trying to access the waterfront from Niagara University a little upstream. The exit from the university is a 5-way intersection or something crazy like that, and the signal to leave doesn’t activate without the weight of a car – so bikes and pedestrians trying to get to the trail have a really hard time getting clear across. I don’t even recall any crosswalks.
Unfortunately I don’t think they’d be getting rid of it if it were heavily used by motorists, so I don’t think we can see it as much of a precedent for Pittsburgh.
The prospect of 138 vertical feet in 500 to connect up from Saline is kind of hilarious. Not that it would ever be built, but if it were, it would become a type 2 fun magnet. Even given 700 feet from Naylor, that’s a tough climb.
Neither straight shot route is worthy of consideration if the goal is to make something for current bike commuters, and especially, would be bike commuters.
What that means is stairs with a bike rail straight up the middle is the most reasonable first cut at the problem, and big swooping switchbacks built in as/if money comes available.
So, order of magnitude cost estimates for each?
Adding a non-ADA-compatible set of steps should be straightforward, as a first cut. We have how many sets of non-ADA-compatible steps in the city already? And how many of those connect vertical changes of 140 feet?
But yes, add a bike rail.
The steps from the Armstrong Tunnel to Duquesne U can serve as an example of a minimal design. At about 210 steps from top to bottom, I’m guessing we’re looking at something like that to start. Adding a bike rail to that would make that set much more appealing.
I took this in this morning. Awesome but too short. We need these all over town!
Oh and beware of an abundance of wet leaves on the road.
It’s a really fun road to ride down. I’m often headed between Greenfield and SE Sq Hill and much prefer to take Pocusset St over going up and over Greenfield ave. (It frightens me a bit cresting the Greenfield Ave hill where I am tired and going slow, people race from behind, and there is 100% parked car coverage on the side of the road.)
Do be careful of the debris though.
Roughly speaking, what the newly non-motorized bit of Pocusset parallels is Greenfield road (avenue is across the bridge) followed by a right on Hobart. Is that what you mean?
If so, I agree, the drivers coming up Hobart toward Squirrel Hill are an impatient bunch and go too fast cresting. They go even faster rouding the bend on Beacon. I make the left from Hobart onto Beacon every day, and it’s ahem, fun.
Unfortunately, Pocusset isn’t a remotely efficient part of my route. I’d take it every day now if it were.
I mean the very top of Greenfield Ave (not Greenfield Rd) heading towards Hazelwood Ave.
Any update on the status of the trees on Pocussett Drive?
I spoke with Pat Hassett today. He says the City is willing to learn more about the possibility of making BOTH Pocusset and Pocussett ped/bike roadways.
The more “user ready” it is, the more likely they are to react quickly, I suspect.
What’s the status on the trees? Any plans for a work party any time soon?
I haven’t gotten over there yet. I did ride down it a week or so ago and they were still there. I’ll see if I can get to it this weekend.
BTW they put the candlesticks downstreet from the Pocussett Dr. entrance — so now they’ll need to put candlesticks at both ends of Pocussett Dr — no big deal but it could have been easier.
You mean up the hill from the Greenfield GE? I agree. Cars are always rushing to get to the stop sign a few hundred feet away.
Paul Heckbert and I cleared the old Pocussett Drive (between Pocusset St and Prospect) today. There was quite a bit of chainsawing — one of the trees was much bigger than I remembered.
We also had a bit of legal excitement. A lady came up the trail, claiming to be from the city, saying we couldn’t do this, and she was going to call the cops. Well, we said go ahead, she took our picture, and we continued. We finished up, and then as we were leaving the cops showed up. I talked with them. The main concern was whether someone had lied by claiming to have a permit the day before. Anyway, everything was eventually resolved, handshakes all around. It turns out the lady was from Corey O’Connors office and will probably be a help to us in getting Pocussett Drive opened to bike traffic. The officer also wanted to talk with Bike Pgh people about bike safety — seems he might be a help, too. We exchanged business cards, so I have their contacts.
Three police vehicles were there at the end.
Whew, nice to know the path is clear, but sorry for the excitement.
Sounds like it was a win-win-win experience for all, however.
Thank you! Will check it out soon. Did you smile for the photo? BTW, when are the official barriers going away? Still saw as of I think last Thursday. Crazy.
Here are pictures of Pocusset Drive:
during (Jon with saw)
during (Paul with saw)
I guess I missed something. Why would you need a permit to do anything? Would I have needed a permit to sweep glass off the Glenwood Bridge last summer?
Modification of public property by anyone other than public works is frowned upon. Hell, you can’t even modify your own house without consulting the city.
Not to say it’s all bureaucratic nonsense… The idea is, what if there’s a buried electrical or sewer line that you sever when you drop a tree on it? Also, if you’re “re-opening” a public access road that was closed at some point in time, what was the reason it was closed to begin with and could re-opening it cause potential harm to the users or the surrounding people/area?
It’s all about covering your ass when something goes awry.
Well done gentlemen. It looks like you had a lot of fun with that saw; give me a ring if you happen to need a hand sharpening it.
According to this Post-Gazette story, there was a plan in 2005 to build a Pittsburgh Public Works maintenance shed on Prospect Drive, and reopen Pocusset Drive (which they called Nursery Rd) to maintenance vehicles. Obviously, the plan wasn’t implemented.
Thank you both. That was a good and extraordinarily generous deed.
I wrote an email to the lady that Jon mentioned (see 12/31, above). She works in Corey O’Connor’s office (Pittsburgh City Council district 5) and after confronting us for chainsawing fallen trees, the argument calmed down some and she expressed an interest in working within city government to help cyclists. Hence this letter:
Could you and the city please help with maintenance to Pocusett Drive, which is I believe the name for the abandoned road between Pocusset St and Prospect Dr that is closed to cars? Jon Webb and I did what we could to clear that road for cyclists and pedestrians, as you saw on Tuesday, but there’s still room for improvement. In particular, if you could arrange for Public Works to clear away the remaining branches, that would be great! In its current condition, there are several fallen trees still partially blocking the paved road. It would be nice to have those fully cleared away so that through cyclists, parents with strollers, kids biking in Schenley Park, etc, can more easily and more safely use Pocusset Drive as a wide, paved path.
Also, you mentioned that the city has plans to move and rebuild the barricade across the bottom of Pocusset Drive, to allow garbage trucks to turn around more easily on Pocusset St, while keeping cars off the Drive. A request here: the current barricade is not good for people on bicycles, or people with strollers, since it forces them to swerve around a sharp metal guard rail to the edge of the asphalt where it meets the sloping ground. If the barricade could be redone with vertical plastic bollards, as Pocusset St was redone, that would be a big improvement. Or maybe a metal barricade with a 3 foot gap in the middle of the road.
Attached are a couple pictures and an explanation of why Pocusset Drive is useful as a bicycle connector.
Good luck as the Peduto administration starts up!
I don’t live in Pittsburgh (I’m from Edgewood) but I use Schenley Park and I like to do what I can to help the parks.
bottom of Pocusset Dr, where it tees into Pocusset St, showing barricade around which cyclists must swerve
east end of Pocusset St bike trail, showing plastic bollards. Pocusset Dr is just to the right.
Why Pocusset Drive is a helpful link, for cyclists:
1) The Eliza Furnace Trail (Jail Trail) is a vital link in Pittsburgh’s bicycle network. For anyone that lives in central Squirrel Hill and commutes to work downtown or in the Southside, finding a safe route down the hill to Four Mile Run (Big Jim’s) to get on the trail is a important. 5th Ave to Neville/Boundary St has too much traffic. Similarly for Bates. Another alternative is the Panther Hollow Trail in Schenley Park, but that’s unpaved, so some cyclists don’t like it. That leaves Greenfield Ave as the best route. So a good bike route from (say) Forbes & Murray to Greenfield Rd & Greenfield Ave is important.
2) One option there is Bartlett to the busy intersection with Panther Hollow Rd, then continuing straight on Greenfield Rd across 376. But Greenfield Rd gets a lot of medium-speed traffic, so it’s somewhat unsafe for cyclists.
3) Now that the end of Pocusset St is closed to cars, this opens what is probably the best option: Hobart to Prospect Dr to Pocusset Dr to Pocusset St to Greenfield Rd. An advantage of this over option 2 is that on the return trip, climbing up to Squirrel Hill from the Eliza Furnace Trail, much of the climbing would be done on Pocusset St and Dr, which are both closed to cars! So once cyclists get off Greenfield Ave & Rd onto Pocusset St, they can relax and stop worrying that an inattentive driver will run them off the road while texting.
4) Note that biking Wightman to Phillips to Pocusset St is less desirable, because Phillps is cobblestone, which is not pleasant for cyclists.
As Pocusset Drive gets used more, there’s the probable side benefit that increased cyclist traffic will help discourage use of Prospect Drive as a gay pickup spot, thereby making this part of Schenley Park more family-friendly.
Hey, guess what! I was walking my bike through Pocusset St (it is really impassible without a fat bike) and I saw they put up the candlesticks on Pocussett Drive! The guardrail is gone! Thanks to Lynette Lederman in Corey O’Connor’s office (lynette.lederman at pittsburghpa.gov) for getting this done.
Now, if they could plow Pocusset St…
I used Google Mapmaker to add the “Pocusset Drive Trail” to Google Maps, a few weeks ago, and my change was approved. Just go to Google Maps and turn on “bicycling” to see this:
Also note, Pocusset Street (not Drive) was written up here: http://pittsburghparks.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/that-first-ride/
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