Westward trail connections, feas. study presentation
I’m not a fan of passing the buck. Senator Fontana responded well. However, I know that Fitzgerald and Ravenstahl don’t have the best working relationship.
More from Amie, which makes me feel better:
Please be assured that we will continue to stay on top of it. We have a staffer in the office who is our point person for trails, parks, etc. She has been a part of all of these meetings and also keeps the Executive up to date on what’s going on.
I assume she is talking about Darla Cravotta, whom I met at the event. I will send her an email and ask what she thinks would be the most effective means to put some pressure on PennDot and the City to not goof up the section on West Carson, the most problematic section.
23May Post Gazette:
Bike route extension proposal unvieled in McKees Rocks area
Here is my letter to PennDOT about this project
Mr. Dan Cessna
45 Thoms Run Road
Bridgeville, PA 15017
In light of the recent news that highway deaths in Pennsylvania rose last year, it is with great concern that I write you about the Route 51 designs that were introduced last week at the public meeting in the West End. Very simply, the designs will do nothing to curb the illegal speeding in an already fast moving corridor, and we fear it will do little if anything to reduce crashes. Furthermore, adding shared lane markings or “sharrows” to a 14-foot wide, high-speed cartway is not safe.
Bike Pittsburgh insists that PennDOT’s consultants go back to the drawing board and approach the designs for the street from a multimodal perspective, making sure that pedestrian and bicycle safety are paramount. If those modes are made safe, safety for motorists will doubtless follow. Increasing enforcement to slow speeds is a nonstarter given both the lack of places for police to physically set up speed traps as well as the lack of police resources. The street needs to be designed with slower speeds in mind from the start.
We fully understand that District 11 can’t have it all for $20 Million, the estimated price tag of this project. Given the constraints it cannot keep the same capacity for motorized vehicles, while also increasing the level of service for bicycles and pedestrians. It must be noted that the neighborhoods that are most impacted from this corridor have a lower rate of car ownership than the City of Pittsburgh’s average – which ranks 8th lowest out of the 60 most populous cities in the country, according to the U.S. Census. This fact alone should tell us that more must be done to accommodate other modes of transportation through this corridor.
Three specific parts of the current design need to change, namely the superfluous motorized vehicle capacity from the West End Bridge to the busway ramp, and the turning lane from the busway ramp to the end of the project boundary with the exception, perhaps, at the Corliss Tunnel. Without the turning lane, there is more flexibility to include safe facilities for residents who currently use, or may wish to use bikes through this corridor. With so few cross streets at which to turn there is no need for a continuous turning lane the length of the corridor. Third, 14-foot lanes should not be designed for any street with speed limits less than 45-mph. 14-foot lanes will only make illegal speeding easier for motorists.
If PennDOT and its consultants need any other justification for making this street more bike-friendly, look no further than West Pittsburgh’s community plan:
“Create a bicycle infrastructure connecting West Pittsburgh neighborhoods and accommodating commuter access to downtown Pittsburgh. Provide continuous, attractive pedestrian infrastructure as well, starting with West Carson Street.” – West Pittsburgh Plan, Transportation chapter
Cc: Theresa Kail-Smith, Cheryl Moon-Siranni, Todd Kravits, Kathryn Power, Patrick Hassett, Amanda Purcell, Patrick Roberts, Stephen Patchan, Jason Kambitsis, Sara Walfoort
Outstanding letter. Thanks Scott.
Has that been copied to Fitzgerald, Fontana, etc., those types as well?
I think all of this would get fixed correctly if the designers & politicians were forced to ride this stretch just once on a bicycle. It would be ideal if they rode solo, but even riding in a small group would get the point across. How can we help make that happen?
Scott, would it help if we also contacted Dan Cessna? Or is this a contact (because he’s not elected) where more voices aren’t necessarily helpful?
Please just let us know how best to advocate on this.
Copying Dan Cessna, the District Executive is never a bad idea, especially if you KNOW the road in question is a state road. (West Carson a/k/a State Route 51 clearly is.)
The process for getting a roadway improvement from the “idea stage” to implementation stage can be a long one. The process for doing that is the Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, that SPC helps compile on behalf of the region. So, for forward thinking projects, input to SPC is one of the formal avenues available. The link to the SPC input form is http://www.spcregion.org/trans_tip_projform.asp
This project went through the TIP process, and was originally designed to be more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, and then was redesigned to address some PennDOT (car) safety concerns. Since this project is so far along, direct communication with PennDOT is probably warranted. But, please cc: SPC on that communication so we have it in our records as well. Contact at SPC is Matt Pavlosky, Public Involvement Coordinator, Chatham II Center, Suite 500, 112 Washington Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Information can also be faxed to (412) 391-9160. The email address for public input is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The advantage to copying SPC on the process is that we retain a record of all comments received, and then share it with our Commissioners, most of whom are local elected officials. So, it serves as a request for attention to a specific issue, concern or process, but then also becomes part of a larger, aggregated call for atention on these sorts of issues.
Marko82 wrote:I think all of this would get fixed correctly if [every PennDot employee] were/was forced to ride this stretch just once on a bicycle.
Though we would need to make sure to have plenty of fully charged AED’s on hand.
Sara was my letter that I posted above shared with the commissioners?
Scott – It will be. We will be collecting all the comments that are received by May 31st and doing a report to Commissioners on those submissions.
I’ve traveled this road on my commute for a long time, so I’ve been following the progress as best I can. I exchanged emails with the PennDOT project manager, Guy Rettura, and he said that the plan is to have one 14 foot lane in each direction with a 10 foot center turning lane for the entire section from the West End Bridge to McKees Rocks. The 14 foot lanes will be striped with a 10 foot traffic lane and a four foot bike lane.
I requested rumble strips to separate the traffic lane from the bike lane, which he said he would take into consideration. I know it’s not a separated bike lane, but a striped 4 foot lane is pretty darned awesome compared to what we have now. The loss of the extra outbound lane will reduce speeds and weaving significantly (one would hope).
Also, during the two year construction, he said that there would be a pedestrian/bike corridor for the length of the construction. Car traffic will be limited to inbound only for the entire construction period.
Guy Rettura has been very responsive to any questions I’ve sent his way. He said that bids were coming in and he was hoping to start construction in late June.
This is the link to the project plans from several years ago at the public meeting:
None of this fixes the possibly worse section between Station Square and the West End Circle, but it’s a good start in my opinion.
If anyone recalls the earlier discussion, after the December 2011 public presentation, that four feet closest to the curb on the south/eastbound/upstream side where there is a tall wall never gets sunshine, so becomes essentially unusable in the winter. Any and all water gets and stays frozen.
I am not sold on the plans so far.
I’m sorry for being so blunt but rumble strips are a bad idea. If any debris builds up in the shoulder and bicyclists have to cross the rumble strips to avoid the debris, they can easily lose control of their bikes. I’ve had to do this on Saxonburg Blvd and nearly lost my life avoiding a tree limb and needing to swerve to avoid while a car was passing me. No rumble strips.
@stu, from my understanding, PennDOT is addressing the drainage issue on that side of the street so iciness should be reduced.
Dan, the bike lanes you’re describing sound reasonable to me. A separate path on the river side (so no intersections) with a barrier between it and the cars, maybe like the “candlesticks” on the GAP section in Homestead, would be even better, but I’ll settle for good bike lanes.
However, do the plans really include bike lanes there? The page from 2011 you linked to shows sharrows in the “West Carson Street Rendering near Tabor” image. The “typical section” image includes bikes, but no specific lanes for them. And Scott’s letters and quotes in the PG article indicate the plans are using sharrows, not bike lanes. Maybe there are bike lanes only in one area?
There are no bike lanes in the final plans. There were bike lanes in the initial plans and then when PennDOT presented in public they redesigned the project to have two 14′ lanes with sharrows and a 10′ turning lane the entire length of the road even though there are only 2 or 3 places to turn along the entire stretch.
Scott and I have the same information relative to the removal of bike lanes from the final design. We will have sharrows in each direction, but no striped bike lane in either direction. There will be some sidewalk improvements, but they will occur first on one side of the road, then switch over to the other side of the road, requiring all pedestrians to cross West Carson Street somewhere. There will not be continuous sidewalks on either side of the street, in other words. I think the posted speed here is 35, average speed often higher (based on personal observation and monitoring of my own behavior). This is at the extreme upper limits of where sharrows are designed for use.
Isn’t this pretty much what we figured they would come up with? Look at the comments starting with December 8 2011 on this thread where the public meeting was discussed.
Do you think they even thought about what we said? Or was the whole meeting a dog-and-pony show for “here’s what we’re going to cram down your throat after we chuck your suggestions in the trash”? Does anyone see anything qualitatively different in the final plan from what they had on December 7, 2011?
StuInMcCandless wrote:“here’s what we’re going to cram down your throat after we chuck your suggestions in the trash”
Damn, I hate Penndot so much. And I say that as a driver, motorcyclist, cyclist, and pedestrian. I also despise those teabaggers, but damn if Penndot doesn’t confirm every blasted thing those guys claim about “government”.
Wow. Does anyone know why the lane striping idea was removed? This is part of the email I got from Guy Rettura shortly after the Dec 2011 public discussion:
“The proposed roadway cross section are shown on the attached website below. As you can see, the typical cross sections show two 14 foot traffic lanes and a 10 foot center turning lane. The 14 foot lanes will be striped to have 10 traffic lanes and a 4 foot bike lanes.
Have a good day and a happy New Year.”
@scott – I was not intending a full scale rumble strip, but rather the periodic negative indentations that give an audible sense that you are veering off the lane. They have these on the center lane of W. Carson now. I hate them there, as they do seem to make drivers fear even more crossing the center line to pass. Not sure if those are still a hazard, but as it sounds like there’s no planned line in either case, I’m guessing that’s not on the table.
All this being said, I’m still going to be a fairly happy camper if the plan goes through as stated — though I’m even happier to see that so many people are fighting to do this right.
The sidewalk crossover doesn’t seem to be a big deal to me. At some point you’re going to need to cross the road in any case if you’re on foot. You have three miles or so of sidewalk with a single light to cross in the middle – not too bad. For the past 10 years or so, the walkway has had rotting sheets of plywood semi-covering large holes to the railroad grade.
I guess I’ve become so inured to the dismal conditions of this road and sidewalk that I’m missing some of the potential that exists there.
I guess I’ve become so inured to the dismal conditions of this road and sidewalk that I’m missing some of the potential that exists there.
Yup, it sounds that way to me.
You’ve been living with the feeling that you’re all alone out there because that’s the way it is now, but seeing as how cycling is growing and the success following completion of the last section of the GAP, I guarantee you would be anything but alone if the connection out there were friendly. My first ride out that way would probably be Sampo (Kosher foods wholesaler). Only 4.5 miles from where I work, but avoiding Carson and going North shore trail->McKees Rocks bridge, it’s 7.7. Now, multiply by two and think of a corporate acceptable lunch break. The 4.5 mile scenario works if I shop quickly, but the 7.7 mile scenario just doesn’t.
I’m sure there are plenty of other good things out there too… all places, even humble ones, sometimes especially the humble ones, hide cool surprises. I don’t know McKees Rocks, but look forward to the possibility (if this is done halfway decently) of really putting it on my map.
If pedestrians were truly getting a single new intersection to cross, perhaps it wouldn’t be a big deal. But they’re not. By moving the sidewalk to the southern side, pedestrians will now have to cross at all the intersections between the busway and McKees Rocks. Before, they had to cross zero.
This problem is exacerbated by the lack of bike lanes. Some cyclists, seeing the high-speed traffic (perhaps after being led there by the county’s deceptive “bike route” signage from the Montour or Ohio River trails), will decide it’s safer to ride the sidewalk. Instead of the current sidewalk with zero intersections, they’ll get an “improved” sidewalk with twelve.
Also, a fine but important point for anyone dealing with this at the PennDot level: I could foresee Penndot making the statement that they are just following the recommendations of their consulting traffic engineers. When I attended the December 2011 public presentation of the Penndot construction plan for the corridor, I spoke to the engineer in charge, explained the inadequacies of the design for cyclists and pedestrians, and she made it abundantly clear that they had data to support the alternate original (better) design, but the pressure came from within Penndot to form the design to their more “traditional” (i.e. decades outmoded and bullshit) roadway design.
So since someone above seems to have a contact within the Penndot sanctum, please tell them on my behalf that they are a bunch of assholes. Thanks.
edmonds59 wrote:I spoke to the engineer in charge, explained the inadequacies of the design for cyclists and pedestrians, and she made it abundantly clear that they had data to support the alternate original
How does this happen?
Is there good documentation for this? I would hope the distinction between “sucks” and “pretty good” would be considered inmportant.
This seems like a legitimate issue for bike riders to engage in civil disobedience over.
If it weren’t so damn dangerous, it might be THE thing to do on the Critical Mass ride for 5/31. The real problem would be, if we do do that, and somebody does get killed on the ride, that it would be used as ammunition *against* doing the right thing instead of helping.
*insert litany of anti-cyclist rants here*
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