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Canton Ave needs some work

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Andrew

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Mar 22 2014 at 3:54pm #

Visited Canton Ave yesterday for the first time in 2 years. There was a 4′x4′ section with cones and needed new block. I would hate to see the road fall into disrepair. It is in pretty rough condition. I think the city needs a “recobble canton plan”! Haha. If it stays like this till November. It will be a VERY interesting Dirty Dozen!


Mikhail

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Mar 22 2014 at 5:16pm #

Do we know what coble stones have been used? It looks like not that big so we can raise some money, get those coble stones and fix it.


edmonds59

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Mar 22 2014 at 5:52pm #

!!! Seriously, someone needs to start a campaign something to the effect of “Keep Canton cobbled”. Some kind of landmark status or something. It is now completely a part of our city heritage. Its been in a Rick Sebak special, for goodness sake. If it gets repaired in asphalt it would be a travesty. If the bike community can’t do this, no one can.


gg

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Mar 23 2014 at 12:21am #

They are about $1.50 a piece, so it really isn’t a ton of money. The labor isn’t all the tough to be honest. All the ground work is done, you just need to replace the cobblestone, but to be honest, most of what is there could probably be reused. I suspect that job it mostly labor. If you want me to check it out, PM me and I will have a look and suggest a game plan. I have been around this stuff for a few decades.


Steven

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Mar 23 2014 at 12:24am #

I think it’s called Belgian block, not cobblestone. Cobbles are irregularly shaped (and pretty rare now), while Belgian blocks are more or less rectangular. (On the other hand, Keep Canton Belgian Blocked doesn’t sound quite as nice.)


edmonds59

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Mar 23 2014 at 7:41am #

Right, I don’t see the actual cost or effort to repair it the right way as being very significant, BUT,
I would see it as more of an effort to make sure the city (it is City of Pittsburgh, isn’t it?) recognizes the street as something worthy of an in-kind repair and not just pulling out an area of block and tamping down asphalt. Because that would be the first move by the maintenance dept.
It would be critical to get on the City’s radar early on, because once it gets on the maintenance schedule, you’re going to end up with – whatever.


Benzo

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Mar 23 2014 at 8:32am #

The city would likely prefer to just dump a patch of hot mix on it and call it a day, which is why it is imporant to stress that they fix it with more belgian block. I’m not sure how much knowledge the DPW has on repairing this stuff, I havn’t seen a lot of this stuff repaired as much as smoothed over with asphault. See Buena Vista…

I’m sure the city would NOT be enthusiastic if volunteers wanted to fix it. Labor contracts and all probably dictate that if a road needs to be fixed, then it’s got to be done by city workers unless approval is given otherwise.


Andrew

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Mar 23 2014 at 7:18pm #

Oh I should add there is a small pile of used Belgium block on the side of Canton. So it shouldn’t be too hard to fix.

Actually I was slightly tempted to take home my very own Canton Ave belgium block but, I knew better.


Andrew

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Mar 23 2014 at 7:30pm #

Here is something cool I found on the Western PA Wheelmen page

http://wpwbikeclub.org/?p=698

They talk with a Canton Ave old timer and it says, “he has previously asked that Canton Ave be repaired (he drives it), but was told that no one in the city knows how to repair such a street anymore.”


Benzo

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Mar 24 2014 at 8:06am #

Wasn’t market square re-done with new bricking and blockwork? How can they not know how to do this?


byogman

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Mar 24 2014 at 8:23am #

Hate to be cynical, but what fits here, a lot better than the lame excuse, is that the city doesn’t care.


JaySherman5000

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Mar 24 2014 at 8:34am #

Benzo wrote:How can they not know how to do this?

You could email the city this free tutorial from This Old House. They make it look so easy!


stefb

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Mar 24 2014 at 9:48am #

As a rider, I would find it easier to ride asphalt than block. But it would be a shame for this street to be repaired the cheap way. There has to be someone who can fix it


Steven

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Mar 24 2014 at 2:21pm #

Maybe for Market Square they hired a contractor, but for repairs they expect to use their own employees.


Mikhail

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Mar 24 2014 at 2:50pm #

JaySherman5000 wrote:

Benzo wrote:How can they not know how to do this?

You could email the city this free tutorial from This Old House. They make it look so easy!

Well, endings is a completely different beast. :) When I helped my friend to redo his driveway endings weren’t a problem. Driveway was. It took another try in 6 month to keep it leveled without any visible “tracks” where car goes and yet another one in three months. :) And it was a regular paving brick (very cheap ones in compare to Belgian blocks which are natural stones).


JaySherman5000

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Mar 24 2014 at 3:06pm #

@Mikhail: what about this tutorial? It says it’s for a walkway, but it seems like it could be scaled up to support car-sized traffic.


Ahlir

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Mar 24 2014 at 3:21pm #

Has anyone (preferably a local) contact the relevant councilperson? Seems like that would be the way to establish what’s going on.


jonawebb

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Mar 24 2014 at 3:44pm #

It sounds like @gg knows what to do.
Probably the easiest way to fix the problem is to get in touch with the neighbors, tell them you want to fix the street, then do it. I’m assuming this could be done in a relatively short amount of time, and also that it can be competently fixed. And that the neighbors will go along with nice biker guys volunteering to fix their street.
If there’s a significant cost involved I bet it could be funded through Indiegogo or something like that, very quickly.
If it’s a bigger project you would probably want to get permission from the neighborhood council or association or whatever. That will lead to discussions about liability, etc. Not necessarily the most productive way to go. But I think that if you approach it the right way and get the neighbors behind you they would find a way to make it happen. Assuming somebody knows how to fix it.


buffalo buffalo

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Mar 25 2014 at 12:11pm #

This is in Natalia Rudiak’s district. You can contact her office on (412) 255-2131 or http://pittsburghpa.gov/district4/contact/, reach her on facebook or twitter, or just call, text, twitter, or webform 311 and ask what’s up.


Mikhail

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Mar 25 2014 at 5:14pm #

JaySherman5000 wrote:@Mikhail: what about this tutorial? It says it’s for a walkway, but it seems like it could be scaled up to support car-sized traffic.

We did exactly the same. Scaling did not work that well especially on slopes. My impression was that:
1. we should dig dipper than freezing line;
2. sand is washed out easily during rains so some kind of cement is a must;
3. paving stones could be squeezed out really easy at the lowest point of slope.


Andrew

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Mar 25 2014 at 8:08pm #

edmonds59 wrote:!!! Seriously, someone needs to start a campaign something to the effect of “Keep Canton cobbled”. Some kind of landmark status or something. It is now completely a part of our city heritage. Its been in a Rick Sebak special, for goodness sake. If it gets repaired in asphalt it would be a travesty. If the bike community can’t do this, no one can.

If anyone wants to do a renegade work day I would be up for it.

I do think there should be a historic sign or something at the bottom of Canton Ave saying it’s the steepest street in America.

Edit: I sent Natalia Rudiak a facebook message and stressed that they DO NOT patch that section of road with asphalt. It would be terrible for such a historic street.


Mikhail

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Mar 26 2014 at 10:20pm #

Andrew wrote:If anyone wants to do a renegade work day I would be up for it.

If we know what we are going to do and have all materials then we can spend a weekend day or I can take a day off.


JaySherman5000

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Mar 27 2014 at 7:25am #

@Mikhail: if we need expertise on working with cobbles, there is a group in France that maintains the pathways used for the Paris-Roubaix. Maybe we could consult them for paving knowledge?

I’ll start the googler…

UPDATE: does anyone here speak (or type) French?

http://www.lesamisdeparisroubaix.com/contacts.html


edmonds59

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Mar 27 2014 at 7:57am #

They’re probably going to be a little busy the next couple of weeks.
Other than that, I’m all for bringing more Frenchyness to the ‘burgh.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Mar 28 2014 at 11:20am #

Um, it occurs to me that those blocks didn’t just jump out of the pave on Canton. Someone removed them, and someone shoveled in some dirt, and someone set up those cones.

Someone like, oh I dunno, the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works, or their subcontractor.

They probably had a reason for doing all of that. And they may not be done. And they may even intend to put the blocks back.

Keep the DIY to your own yard and leave the City streets to the City.


byogman

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Mar 28 2014 at 11:37am #

They probably had a reason for doing all of that. And they may not be done. And they may even intend to put the blocks back.

I’d understand that comment, except that the city said that nobody knows how to fix it.

I think that excuse is utter balderdash mind you, but it also means that I don’t expect them to fix it in a timely manner (and closing the street entirely might’ve crossed their minds for all I know). It would also mean that any repair they might’ve in mind woudn’t have been using that block or respecting the character of the street.

I think this is a mighty fine thing for the bike community to stand up for and apply pressure on. We love our hills! Up to and including to the point of doing the the fix.

Now, if it’s embarassing for the city that a group of citizens would pool a little capital and knowhow to do it themselves, and then the city winds up pre-empting the effort by fixing the road, the right way, so much the better.

I don’t think it’s BETTER for us to do a renegade fix, but I think it’s a fine thing for us to be prepared to do it. I’d even donate a tiny little bit toward it.


reddan

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Mar 28 2014 at 11:45am #

Apropos Chesterton quote


edmonds59

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Mar 28 2014 at 12:04pm #

Yeah, no vigilante road repairs. My point is just that effort would be best spent in making the city aware that there are people who actually have a concern about the manner in which it is repaired. Otherwise your going to end up with shovel of asphalt.


StuInMcCandless

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Mar 28 2014 at 1:39pm #

I see nothing wrong with having the city backfill the dig with asphalt, so long as the city both makes it clear that that is not the permanent fix, and that they are OK with us doing it if the preferred method has not been applied before the beginning of November.


byogman

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Mar 28 2014 at 3:08pm #

I disagree strongly.

Temporary fixes tend to become permanent ones, especially for things the city is disinclined to spend money on. Once the road is “fixed”, even if it was done slapdash and poorly, us restoring it to it’s prior fully cobbled state would simply be considered vandalism. It has to be done right the first time.


jonawebb

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Mar 28 2014 at 3:54pm #

I agree with @byogman. If a good fix is going to be made to Canton, using Polish block, it’s not going to be done by the city crews. And if they make a temporary fix it’s going to lead to Canton being paved over eventually.
The only way Canton’s surface is going to be preserved is if some cyclists step forward and either make the fix voluntarily, or if they coordinate with the neighborhood association or Councilperson Rudiak to get it fixed right.


Steven

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Mar 28 2014 at 4:14pm #

the city said that nobody knows how to fix it.

A guy with a blog quoted a message from a guy named Jason saying that he spoke to an old-timer named Joe who said he spoke to somebody at some point in the past and was told by somebody that no one in the city knows how to repair such a street anymore. Not quite the same thing.

And even if, at some unknown point in the past, nobody in Public Works knew how, they may have learned how since.

Great quote! I agree that vigilante roadwork should be a last resort, after going through appropriate channels fails. Has anybody actually contacted Natalia Rudiak? Or used 311 to ask?


dfiler

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Apr 1 2014 at 2:42pm #

Some the streets in my neighborhood are brick and have occasionally had bricks removed for work and then put back. I might not get done, but it does happen.


mjyc

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Apr 1 2014 at 3:06pm #

If people would like to question the City directly, there are City Council meetings that are open to the public to express concerns Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am. I would suggest getting in touch with Councilwoman Rudiak, though. She has been integral in revitalizing much of her district, and I have heard from a couple different sources she is very much into community outreach and involvement.

Also, I’ve seen a couple Belgium Block roads in the city be properly fixed by Public Works Crews. Both streets i’m thinking of have pretty steep grades to them. I wonder if asphalt crews have difficulty with getting equipment up and down streets with a grade so steep?


dfiler

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Apr 1 2014 at 3:13pm #

Interesting, one of the block streets fixed properly near me, also happened to be on a very steep grade. My theory was that they left it that way for traction in the winter. But the difficulty of rolling asphalt flat might be the real reason.

The brick roads in regent square are also routinely torn up and patched. Most recently the gas company did this when putting a new main in. Although those weren’t city crews and residents were notified in advance that proper repairs were to be made. But at least it shows that the skills exist in this area.


StuInMcCandless

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Apr 2 2014 at 2:25am #

Osgood St in Fineview is another fairly steep street paved in block which was patched with asphalt, as well as concrete, in various places.


edmonds59

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Apr 2 2014 at 5:13am #

Asphalt roller on Canton = Youtube video waiting to happen.


StuInMcCandless

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Apr 2 2014 at 6:32pm #

Well, they did use one on Rialto a few years back. They had to tether every piece of equipment to something that wasn’t going to move, I forget the details.


helen s

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Apr 3 2014 at 9:18am #

dfiler- I can attest from personal experience and have since heard from other sources that block streets are much more slick in icy (freezing rain) conditions than asphalt. I thought the same as you until I realized I was sliding backwards and sideways on a not too steep street near my house.


dfiler

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Apr 3 2014 at 9:33am #

Anything covered with ice is as slippery as ice. ;)

But blocks do drain better and the uneven surface often pokes through ice, providing traction.

I hope that canton doesn’t become a patchwork of mismatched patches. It will likely take a motivated local, that keeps hounding people in power, to make sure the removed blocks are reset properly.

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