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Category Archive: Transportation

  1. Bicycling: Hot Metal Bridge plans to be well connected

    Sunday, August 22, 2004

    Eliza and the South Side. Oh, the talk that was generated by that hot and heavy relationship.

    The long separated pair are scheduled to be linked again in 2006 when the Hot Metal Bridge over the Monongahela River is scheduled to re-open for bicyclists and pedestrians.

    I can just hear the stoop comments.

    “Look, she’s still has her curves — all the way from Downtown to Hazelwood.”

    “And did you see his posture coming across the river — straight as an arrow after all those years.”

    The re-connection of the pair will permit the wheeled and well-heeled — bicyclists, in-line skaters, runners, joggers and walkers — to cross the Mon and continue on trails — upstream and downstream — on both sides of the river.

    Eliza and the South Side were introduced in 1882 when the aptly-named Monongahela Connecting Railroad built a bridge a few feet downstream from its “Mon Conn” bridge.

    The new bridge was designed to carry hot metal in ladle cars or torpedo-shaped cars from the Eliza and Soho blast furnaces on the Oakland side of the river to the processing mills on the South Side. Hot metal is freshly smelted, slag-free iron stewing at about 3,000 degrees.

    Ferrying the fiery iron in its molten form across the 1,052 foot long bridge saved money for the Pittsburgh Works of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation. Otherwise, it would have had to cast the hot metal into ingots and reheat them to make steel.

    “It saved J&L a lot of money,” said Walter C. Kidney, architectural historian of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and author of “Pittsburgh’s Bridges: Architecture and Engineering.” In the book, he concluded his comments about the side-by-side spans by saying:

    “The bridges are destined to be an important traffic link between the cleared land of the J&L sites [on both sides of the river] as they develop.”

    The importance of the Hot Metal Bridge to bicyclists and pedestrians was reaffirmed Wednesday evening at an Open House meeting organized by the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

    Instead of a formal presentation, the public had an opportunity to look at a series of comfortably spaced easel-mounted drawings and plans for the bridge and an expansion of East Carson Street from 25th Street to 33rd Street and then speak to the professionals working on them.

    Bicyclists were drawn to two renderings of what the Hot Metal Bridge will look like in 2006. They were prepared by Rod Walker, the head of the 3D Modeling and Visualization Department for Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, a major planning, engineering, program and construction management organization.

    One rendering shows a curved ramp that bicyclists and pedestrians will use to descend to street level on the South Side of the bridge and connect with the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

    The other shows a new truss bridge that will be built over Second Avenue. It will connect the Oakland side of the Hot Metal Bridge and the Eliza Furnace Trail. The bridges will be lighted and their 14-foot wide bikeways will have picket-style railings.

    John Coyne, director of engineering and construction for the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, said the work is scheduled to begin next summer and take about a year. The federal government is paying for most of it, but Coyne pointed out that the Allegheny Trail Alliance contributed about $750,000 to the project.

    “I am so delighted with the design work,” said Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the alliance that represents seven rails-trails organizations. “It is sensitive to the nature of the project and is really neat.” The alliance is credited for providing the impetus for the project.

    Coyne said the connection from the Hot Metal Bridge to the Eliza Furnace Trail “was important to the biking community.” Yes, it is, especially since it will be heavily used by riders from the city’s three largest biking neighborhoods — Oakland, Squirrel Hill and the South Side.

    “This meeting was well done,” said Mary Shaw as her husband, Roy Weil, nodded his head in agreement.

    “There was good notice, the description of what they were going to do was based on reality, the [I.B.E.W. Building] was easy to find and there was plenty of parking.”

    Shaw and Weil, who have pedaled thousands of miles on bike trails, are the authors of “FreeWheeling Easy in Western Pennsylvania” and “Linking Up: Planning Your Traffic-Free Bike Trip Between Pittsburgh, Pa. and Washington, D. C.” They and other leaders in the biking community were the type of people the meeting planners wanted to attract.

    “The people we spoke to were willing to listen to what we had to say,” Weil said.

    They singled out Patrick Hassett, assistant director of development, design and transportation for the city planning department, for his “knowledge about the projects, where they were going, what was possible [in terms of any changes] and what wasn’t.”

    Although delays are always possible, if not inevitable, Eliza and the South Side should be together again in 2006. It will be worth the wait.

    (Larry Walsh can be reached at and 412-263-1488.)

  2. PennDOT, Riverlife panel to seek plan for Route 28

    By Joe Grata,
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Wednesday, June 23, 2004

    “Alternative 13” could prove a lucky number for resolving controversy over a two-mile stretch of Route 28 between the North Side and Millvale.

    The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will organize a special task force in cooperation with the Riverlife Task Force to resolve differences and develop a consensus for how the narrow, congested and outdated four-lane road will someday be reconstructed.

    The Riverlife Task Force and other entities have objected to 12 previous designs, including the latest one PennDOT calls a “hybrid” because it was thought to have addressed issues and concerns expressed in public meetings last summer.

    The public-private collaboration will include as many as two dozen other interested parties, including the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, Washington’s Landing Homeowners Association, Mount Troy Citizens Council, Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese and the city planning department.

    Stakeholders in the long-standing project are to hold their first workshop within a month and then meet biweekly thereafter. The goal is to reach agreement on a preliminary design by the end of the year, when a public hearing will be held.

    PennDOT officials said they want to keep the up-to-$180 million project on track for a fall 2008 groundbreaking. Construction could take four years and inconvenience more than 60,000 cars and trucks a day.

    The strategy to resolve differences about the highway design, including whether to save historic St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, was disclosed yesterday during the third and last open house held by PennDOT to review its three latest proposals.

    “[Reaching consensus] will enable us to build the best and safest highway we can while being as sensitive as possible to the environment,” said Earl Neiderhiser, acting PennDOT District 11 executive. “I believe we can do it.”

    PennDOT has spent about 10 years and $10 million on engineering and other facets included in an environmental impact statement that federal agencies must approve before land acquisition and final design can start.

    Besides saving St. Nicholas Church, Troy Hill homes and Rialto Street, differences have ranged from geometrics at the 31st Street and 40th Street bridges to building six miles of retaining walls — up to 65 feet high — by digging deep into the hillside over much of the two-mile stretch.

    PennDOT’s hybrid alternative, although it is the 12th plan presented over the years, is called Alternative 6M, with the “M” designating a modification that would make Route 28 an urban boulevard for the East Ohio Street portion past St. Nicholas and a faster, safer expressway over the remaining 1.5 miles to Millvale.

    The Riverlife Task Force has been the main opponent of the high-speed section, objecting mostly to the number, length and height of retaining walls that would scar the hillside above the narrow shelf of land where Route 28 is to be reconstructed.

    The 5-year-old organization formed by civic leaders to enhance the city’s waterfronts wants lower walls and bifurcated walls to preserve a “green look” through the river corridor and landscaped plazas at bridge interchanges serving local traffic. It wants urban design features to be incorporated in the project, noting that Route 28 is a major gateway to Pittsburgh.

    Ed Patton of Vollmer Associates, the specialized highway design firm engaged by the Riverlife Task Force, said he was optimistic the task force could succeed in creating an environmentally friendly project.

    So was Todd Kravits, design location engineer for PennDOT. “We can work together,” he said.

    PennDOT officials said they want to keep the up-to-$180 million project on track for a fall 2008 groundbreaking. Construction could take four years and inconvenience more than 60,000 cars and trucks a day.

    (Joe Grata can be reached at or 412-263-1985.)

  3. Route 28 plan called intrusive by some

    By Joe Grata,
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Thursday, June 17, 2004

    A number of Pittsburgh groups, including the Riverlife Task Force, have suggested that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and its consultant go back to the drawing board with alternatives for rebuilding Route 28.

    They suggested that a new PennDOT “hybrid” plan, with six miles of retaining walls 40 to 60 feet high along a two-mile stretch between the North Side and Millvale, would gouge the hillside and fly in the face of efforts to preserve and enhance Pittsburgh’s famous river corridors.

    The hybrid grew out of recommendations made a year ago, and thought to have been embraced by PennDOT, to minimize the walls, save historic St. Nicholas Church and homes atop Troy Hill, and create a less intrusive urban boulevard that would still provide for a nonstop flow of traffic on Route 28.

    But many of 120 people who turned out for an open house at the Washington’s Landing at Herrs Island boathouse yesterday expressed disappointment with the new proposal.

    “We really thought a design would be presented to accomplish goals that I thought we agreed to,” said Ted McConnell, chairman of the Riverlife Task Force Transportation Committee.

    The task force has sent a protest to state Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler.

    “What’s bad is that they still have monstrous retaining walls,” said George White, speaking for the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. He accused PennDOT of pussyfooting about acquiring the railroad land below Route 28 at the expense of digging into the hillside next to the roadway.

    “We still haven’t recovered from scars on the landscape” when PennDOT carved Route 28 into the bottom of high hills farther up the Allegheny Valley, said Terry Wirginis, president of the Gateway Clipper Fleet that operates cruises on the three rivers.

    As a resident of Indiana Township, Wirginis said, he would have no problem commuting on a new Route 28 with a 35 mph speed limit instead of the 45 mph limit that is part of PennDOT’s proposal.

    PennDOT revealed last week that it had narrowed an original 11 alternatives for rebuilding the congested stretch of Route 28 to three options, including a new one known as “Alternative 6M.”

    That option, expected to cost an estimated $180 million, includes an urban-type of boulevard with curbs and sidewalks at the North Side/East Ohio Street end — a feature that has seemed to generate little opposition in two meetings held thus far.

    It’s the other end, starting just east of St. Nicholas Church, that has drawn the criticism. PennDOT proposes higher speeds, limited-access features with 10-foot-wide shoulders and wider ramps. While those may be safer, they also require more horizontal space, and therefore multiple retaining walls, from the 31st Street Bridge to the 40th Street Bridge.

    For example, a profile of PennDOT’s plan shows four “thru” lanes, two ramps, barriers and all shoulders would take up 136 feet of horizontal space compared with 92 feet in the Riverlife Task Force’s plan, which was prepared by an independent consulting engineer versed in urban highway design.

    The task force plan also proposes several “steps” or much lower walls where trees and shrubs would be planted, as well as landscaped plazas at the two bridges and Rialto Street, where all local traffic would intersect.

    Lisa Schroeder said the task force does not want to delay PennDOT’s timetable, which calls for starting four years of construction in fall 2008.

    “Early community consensus can help move it through the federal approval process,” she said. “We also think using our proposal around the most critical point [the 31st Street Bridge] will save time and money.”

    PennDOT design development engineer Todd Kravits said he and the state’s consultant, Michael Baker Inc., which has been paid about $10 million so far, thought the changes made in Alternative 6M would satisfy diverse public and private interests while maintaining consistency with the rest of Route 28.

    Kravits said the department would be happy to meet again with the Riverlife Task Force but said the group should be more specific and provide more information about its demands.

    A third and final open house will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday on the 31st floor of the Regional Enterprise Tower, Downtown. Formal public hearings are to be held in the fall.

  4. Riverlife Task Force proposes tunnel to untangle Route 28

    By Joe Grata,
    Post-Gazette Staff Writer
    Friday, August 22, 2003

    A city group has offered a new engineering concept to untangle the traffic mess on a stretch of Route 28 where the 31st Street Bridge and Rialto Street intersect it.

    The design would accommodate local traffic on a landscaped deck at the existing level of Route 28 and relocate mainline traffic into a four-lane tunnel beneath it and next to railroad tracks at the foot of Troy Hill.

    Thru traffic would move nonstop on Route 28 after reconstruction of its last two miles between Millvale and the East Ohio Street/Interstate 279 interchange on the North Side.

    More importantly, the plan would eliminate thousands of feet of retaining walls up to 60 feet high that other alternatives call for and preserve the wooded hillside along the highway, says the Riverlife Task Force, a group dedicated to enhancing the river corridors of Pittsburgh.

    The group hired a national consulting firm, Vollmer Associates, known for creating environmentally friendly transportation projects, to create the alternative to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans for rebuilding the stretch of Route 28.

    Edward Patton, manager of engineering services for Vollmer’s regional office in Pittsburgh, said the design at the 31st Street Bridge establishes the pattern for the rest of the project — a boulevard concept that residents and preservationists favored at a public meeting last month.

    Separately, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation is investigating the acquisition of air rights over two unused tracks of four that Norfolk Southern Railway owns. The tracks abut Route 28, sitting below a retaining wall that helps create the shelf of land for the highway. Owning air rights would allow engineers to consider building part of Route 28 over the railroad property, toward the Allegheny riverfront.

    Both the Riverlife Task Force and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation plans for Route 28 would save historic St. Nicholas Church.

    “I’m interested in seeing what [the Riverlife Task Force] plan looks like,” PennDOT District 11 Executive Ray Hack said. “At this stage of the planning process, we’re open to ideas. This is the time for anyone with suggestions.”

    PennDOT engineers are to provide Vollmer Associates with information on geology, traffic volumes, elevations and other technical matters so the firm can continue to advance and refine its concept.

    “The Riverlife Task Force is focusing on the potential impact of PennDOT’s project on the green hillsides and the communities that will be affected,” said Ted McConnell, the task force’s legal counsel. “We’re looking for a design that’s sensitive to the setting.”

    Lisa Schroeder, director of the task force, said although Route 28 sits some distance back from the Allegheny River, the group became interested in PennDOT’s highway plans “because the hillside helps define the river corridor and is part of the city’s unique topography.”

    This isn’t the first time the 3-year-old Riverlife Task Force has become involved with PennDOT. It persuaded the state to develop and install see-through guardrails on the Fort Pitt Bridge instead of 42-inch-high solid concrete barriers, thereby preserving views of the city and three rivers.

    PennDOT’s newest options for Route 28 at the 31st Street Bridge would realign Rialto Street to create a four-way intersection, extensively altering the hillside, while Vollmer’s concept would keep Rialto in place.

    PennDOT has also proposed elevating the southbound lanes of Route 28 and cutting them into the hillside. Vollmer would place the mainline traffic in the underpass-like tunnel, only minimally disturbing the hillside.

    The speed limit would probably be 40 mph under both PennDOT’s and the Riverlife Task Force’s boulevard concepts, but Route 28’s capacity and traffic flow would be substantially improved.

    Estimated cost of the PennDOT project is $160 million to $200 million, depending on the alternative chosen, but the timetable does not call for work to begin before 2008.

    Joe Grata can be reached at or 412-263-1985.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

  5. New designs for Route 28 gains support – Proposals would spare church, industrial park

    By Joe Grata,
    Post-Gazette Staff Writer
    Thursday, July 17, 2003

    Alternative designs initiated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation only six months ago appear to be gaining support for the eventual reconstruction of a two-mile stretch of Route 28 between the North Side and Millvale.

    Both options would save St. Nicholas Church, the first Croatian Roman Catholic Church in the United States, although the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese wants to close it, and Millvale Industrial Park, although the owner wants to get rid of it.

    Historic preservation groups are rallying around the two sites along the dangerous, congested highway.

    At a PennDOT-sponsored open house at the Boathouse on Washington’s Landing yesterday, many of the 300 people who turned out to look at plans and meet with engineers appeared to favor “Alternative 6,” which proposes to rebuild Route 28 essentially where it is, rather than “Alternative 5,” which would place six lanes of traffic on a 30-foot overpass only a flying hubcap away from the stained-glass “rose window” above St. Nicholas’ main entrance.

    “No. 6 is a superb plan,” said Jack Schmitt, chairman of the Religious Structures Committee of Preservation Pittsburgh, who said new access and parking would enable the church’s dwindling congregation to grow. “It saves the church, preserves the green hillside and is cheaper” by $40 million.

    No. 6 could be even cheaper if it were up to Andrew A. Lang Jr., owner of Millvale Industrial Park, home to a dozen small businesses.

    Historic groups want to save that site because one of the buildings housed a brewery in the 19th century.

    “There’s nothing historic about it,” Lang said of the building, which is now mostly a warehouse. “It’s been altered and remodeled 15 times. You’d never know a brewery ever existed there. Why does someone else have an interest in saving my place when I don’t?”

    Tom Fox, PennDOT District 11 assistant executive for design, said while he may be inclined to accommodate Lang’s wish, federal laws require PennDOT to prove there’s no prudent and feasible alternative to buying and demolishing a historic structure, even though it might cost $20 million to save the one Lang owns.

    Plans to rebuild the two miles of Route 28, known as the “death stretch” because of its accident history, have languished for years.

    The highway, an extension of East Ohio Street past the Del Monte/Heinz plant, is a narrow four lanes with no divider or shoulders. Traffic bogs down at signals at the 31st and 40th street bridges.

    PennDOT proposes spending $160 million to $200 million to reconstruct the stretch, although the timetable does not call for construction to begin before 2008.

    Until six months ago, PennDOT’s design options would have eliminated St. Nicholas Church and Millvale Industrial Park and dislocated about 80 households, including some on Eggers Street atop Troy Hill. The plans would have meant constructing up to 20 miles of retaining walls over the two-mile stretch to shoehorn a limited-access expressway between the steep hillside on one side and Norfolk Southern Railway tracks on the other.

    Fox credited George White, a retired civil engineering professor who is with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, for coming up with new ideas that have since been modified to conform to the terrain and geometry at the two bridge intersections.

    “My take on [the open house] is that the people favor Alternatives 5 and 6,” Fox said. “We’ll study the comments and recommend a final alternative for the draft environmental impact statement and hold a public hearing on it early next year.”

    Nos. 5 and 6 would provide nonstop traffic flow on Route 28, as did the earlier plans, although the speed limit with No. 6 would be 40 mph and the horizontal profile would be narrow: a 5-foot sidewalk in front of St. Nicholas, a 2 1/2-foot-wide curb, two 12-foot southbound lanes, a concrete divider, two 12-foot northbound lanes and another 2 1/2-foot-wide curb.

    Fox said accidents and breakdowns would stop traffic, as opposed to Alternative 5, which provides 10-foot-wide shoulders in each direction by elevating parts of the highway toward the river, over the railroad line.

    White said special legislation could permit PennDOT to acquire half of the 52-foot-wide railroad right of way and build No. 6 as a first-class transportation facility at the present elevation, increasing the frontage at St. Nicholas and keeping the hillside in its natural state.

    White said train traffic is so infrequent that Norfolk Southern does not need all of the four tracks passing through the site.

    One more entity is planning to weigh in on PennDOT’s plans — the Riverlife Task Force, a group promoting preservation and controlled development along the city’s river corridors.

    Attorney Ted McConnell of Kirkpartrick & Lockhart, a Downtown law firm that advises the task force, was at the open house, examining a total of 11 options that were posted on easels around the room.

    “We’re concerned about the hillside, the visual impacts and the community impacts of what PennDOT plans to do,” he said. “We’re looking at the alternatives and determining if there are some appropriate mitigation measures that we can recommend.”

    Joe Grata can be reached at or 412-263-1985.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

  6. Groups welcome Route 28 options

    By Jim Ritchie
    Thursday, July 17, 2003

    PennDOT won’t decide until early 2004 whether to rebuild Route 28 through the St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church or around the Pittsburgh-designated historic building.

    Those who want to spare the church are happy now that PennDOT is considering two new ways of improving a 2-mile stretch of Route 28 from Millvale to Pittsburgh that would spare the building, in addition to two other plans that would require tearing down or moving the church.

    “This is what we have been striving for,” said Robert Sladack, who co-chairs the Preserve Croatian Heritage Foundation that has been fighting to preserve the church, the first Croatian Catholic church in the United States. “Now, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.”

    PennDOT hosted an open house Wednesday evening at the Three Rivers Rowing Association Boat House, on Washington’s Landing, putting two new concepts on display that would preserve the church. PennDOT now will select one of four proposals and intends to begin construction in 2008.

    More than 100 people turned out for the open house.

    “It’s difficult,” said Tom Fox, the assistant district engineer at PennDOT’s Allegheny County-based District 11 office. “I plan to sit down and look at what everybody said here tonight.”

    The fate of the church situated just feet from the southern end of Route 28, also called the Allegheny Valley Expressway, has been the subject of a heated dispute. Early designs put the new road through the church property, which upset church members and preservationists.

    The dispute prompted PennDOT to develop two concepts that spare the church by using elevated lanes.

    Of equal concern are the 60,000 motorists who drive Route 28 daily. The project, which is estimated to cost between $140 million and $200 million, would eliminate the traffic signal intersections at the 31st Street and 40th Street bridges that are choke points.

    By the time work begins in 2008, PennDOT intends to have finished building a direct connection between Route 28 and Interstate 279, Fox said. He wants construction on the link to begin in about three years.

    Those fighting to save the church feel they’re now on the same page as PennDOT.

    “We commend PennDOT for their creative solution to Route 28 improvements, their willingness to have open, public discussion and their sensitivity in saving our local heritage,” said a statement from Preservation Pittsburgh.

    Aside from the church, there are some residential concerns, especially for people who live in Troy Hill atop the hillside adjacent to Route 28.

    “My concern is if my house is going to be impacted by this,” Rita Steinmetz said. “My other concern is the stability of the hillside and the possible noise effects.”

    The owner of the Millvale Industrial Park, which sits along Route 28, is unhappy that the two new PennDOT options would spare his 6-acre property, which is home to 12 businesses. Andrew Lang wants PennDOT to buy his property when the stretch of Route 28 is rebuilt.

    “I want them to take the building,” Lang said.

    Jim Ritchie can be reached at or (412) 320-7933.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review © Pittsburgh Tribune Review

  7. PennDOT offers four options for Route 28

    By David M. Brown
    Tuesday, July 15, 2003

    State transportation officials on Monday unveiled two proposals for widening Route 28 that would spare the historic St. Nicholas Church on the North Side.

    Two other proposals still under consideration, however, put the 100-year-old building in the path of a wrecking ball. Pittsburgh City Council in 2001 approved a historic designation for the church, which belongs to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. The historical designation doesn’t rule out demolition of the building, but it complicates the process.

    Engineers from the state Department of Transportation yesterday outlined four remaining alternatives for the project during a briefing for public officials on a study of estimated costs and the feasibility of the proposals.

    “This at least … gives some viable alternatives for public consideration,” said Edward Pugh, an aide to state Sen. Jack Wagner, a Beechview Democrat. Pugh was among about two dozen municipal representatives and legislative aides who attended the session at the state Department of Environmental Protection offices on Washington’s Landing in Pittsburgh.

    To present the four alternatives to the public, PennDOT will hold an open house Wednesday from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Three Rivers Rowing Association boathouse, 300 Waterfront Drive, also on Washington’s Landing.

    The road project, expected to cost between $140 million and $200 million, is expected to unclog traffic along a 2-mile corridor and make Route 28 safer by separating southbound and northbound traffic and widening the existing lanes. Federal highway funds are expected to cover about 80 percent of the cost.

    An alternative still being considered that would spare St. Nicholas Church — site of the first Croatian Roman Catholic parish in the Western Hemisphere — is a modified version of a plan developed by George R. White, chairman of the transportation committee of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

    “You live again to fight another day,” White said when told PennDOT had advanced a version of his plan.

    The plan — which involves elevating the highway above railroad tracks that run adjacent to Route 28 — would be the more expensive of the alternatives, according to PennDOT’s estimates. It would cost about $200 million. The next closest alternative would cost about $160 million.

    “I don’t know what the politicians will decide, but the cost is close enough … that it merits public debate,” White said.

    Other alternatives include:

    Construction that cuts into the hillside with terraces in the Troy Hill area of the North Side, cutting a swath through properties along Route 28, including the church, the Millvale Industrial Park and Feilbach Street in Millvale.

    Construction that would cut less into the hillside but would cause railroad tracks to be moved, as well as demolition of the church and industrial park.

    Construction of an “urban artery” that would be more narrow than the other alternatives because it would have only 2-foot gutters, instead of 10-foot shoulders. This plan would avoid the church.

    All options include four 12-foot lanes, with auxiliary lanes for traffic moving to and from the 31st Street and 40th Street bridges, said Thomas C. Fox, an assistant district engineer with PennDOT. A key element of the project is to keep northbound and southbound traffic from being stopped by traffic signals which make it possible for other vehicles to use the bridges.

    Construction is not expected to start before 2008. The project is slated to be completed in 2011.

    David M. Brown can be reached at or (412) 380-5614.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review © Pittsburgh Tribune Review

  8. Busway as HOV lane refused

    By Jim Ritchie
    Friday, April 12, 2002

    The West Busway could relieve the Downtown congestion caused by the Fort Pitt Tunnel closing by allowing access to car poolers, according to a Downtown agency’s recommendations.

    “The agonies of the Fort Pitt closing are showing up as unmanageable congestion in the triangle,” said George White, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation transportation chairman and former head of the University of Pittsburgh’s Transportation Systems Research Center. He sent his recommendations Thursday to several elected city, county and state officials.

    “If you provide relief to both ? using the West Busway and Tenth Street Bypass ? you’ve got it licked.”

    Port Authority and PennDOT previously have discussed allowing HOV traffic on the busway as a way to alleviate problems during the Fort Pitt Tunnel closing, but agreed to shelve the proposal because of safety and cost concerns, said Port Authority spokesman Bob Grove.

    “It was their decision which we concurred with,” Grove said. “The idea was discussed for a couple of years about using the West Busway as an HOV. There were safety concerns. The West Busway was not designed to be used by vehicles.”

    However, White contends that the use of the busway by HOV traffic ? vehicles with two or more people ? and the reopening of the Tenth Street Bypass would clear the Downtown streets that have clogged since the outbound Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel closed early Saturday.

    White chairs the agency’s transportation committee and formerly headed the University of Pittsburgh’s Transportation Systems Research Center. He sent his recommendations yesterday to several elected city, county and state officials.

    PennDOT detours over the Liberty and West End bridges have worked well since the closure. However, getting to them has been tricky, especially from Downtown.

    PennDOT had earmarked more than $1 million for Port Authority to use for an HOV system on the busway. At some point, the agencies decided to use the money instead to provide more bus service during the tunnel project.

    “The earmarked money was shifted from HOV to putting in additional buses,” said PennDOT spokesman Dick Skrinjar. “The consensus opinion was the money would be better spent by using additional buses in the conventional system.”

    White argues use of the West Busway would work better.

    “You would double the number of cars each hour going across the Mon River,” he said. “Anybody going farther than Carnegie on I-279 has a beautiful route for bypassing the jam in the triangle.”

    The Tenth Street Bypass has been closed by the Sports & Exhibition Authority during the David L. Lawrence Convention Center project. It blocks traffic from flowing from Fort Duquesne Boulevard into the Strip District.

    Along with the traffic detoured by the Fort Pitt Boulevard closing, many drivers find they have to cross the triangle to get to the Boulevard of the Allies and the Parkway East. White said the authority’s closing of the bypass, which provides access to Smallman Street in the Strip District, is not necessary.

    “They don’t have to do that,” he said. “They use it to store stacks of materials and position cranes. It’s convenient for them to use it as a front yard to construction.”

    The authority plans to completely reopen the bypass in March 2003. Calls left with the authority seeking comment yesterday were not returned.

    Jim Ritchie can be reached at or (412) 320-7933.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. © The Tribune-Review Publishing Co

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633