Public Meeting tomorrow in Oakland on the Birmingham Bridge rehab project. Check to be sure they are handling the bike lanes well. Ask about better connections to adjacent roads and trails. Show them we care.
Here's the announcement as I received it ...
Birmingham Bridge Public Meeting
September 17th 2014 in Oakland
Pittsburgh, PA-PennDOT District 11
SAI Consulting Engineers and the Joseph B. Fay Company are hosting two public meetings to provide information on the Birmingham Bridge preservation project on Wednesday, Sept. 17th 2014.
The meeting will be held at the
Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh University Place-
3454 Forbes Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
Two separate sessions are scheduled at the following times:
• 11-11:30 a.m. – Open house
• 11:30 a.m.–noon – Project presentation
• Noon-12:30 p.m. – Open house
• 12:30-1 p.m. – Project presentation
The $23.5 million preservation project is part of Act 89, the state’s new transportation plan. Act 89, the legislation made possible by the bipartisan consensus reached by Governor Tom Corbett and the Legislature, will enable PennDOT to invest an additional $128 million in District 11 this year for 15 projects in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties.
Work on the Birmingham Bridge includes painting of the entire superstructure, steel repairs, lighting and sign replacements, bridge deck rehabilitation and guiderail improvements. Approximately 21,000 vehicles use the Birmingham Bridge on an average day.
The public meeting will identify the project details, traffic impacts, schedule, and other information. PennDOT’s project team, SAI Consulting Engineers and representatives from the Joseph B. Fay Company will be available for questions and answers. Comments on the proposed project will be accepted.
too bad it's in the middle of the damn day, yet too long to go to on lunch break.
West end of Oakland from downtown and an hour meeting. Pushing it, but I'll be there.
I'm assuming this is a big budget item and a nice place to put wish list stuff for the immediate area.
It's a frustrating area to try and google street view connections and would be connections, so this may need some editing. But here's my first round of ideas:
Dedicated lanes probably mostly the current configuration on the North end (disclaimer, been a while since I rode this bridge), but with more protection please given the traffic speeds.
A connector from Brady street to the jail trail. An uphill lane on Brady Street.
In continuation, take the "right lane ends" coming up Forbes toward the interchange with a bike lane, using the unused lane past the stupid dividing wedge until the lanes come back together as the parkway traffic joins.
South end needs some work. You're really expected to enter/exit from the sidewalk right now? That's what it shows on google maps. What I remember more specifically was the feeling getting left to make a left on Carson would have been really bad if I did it at rush (went in the middle of the day so it was pretty empty, but there's a lot of lane width and traffic speed). At minimum need some very clear, very bright indicators that bikes cross, and not to put the only lane going south to the right of the right turn lane.
A bike/ped only connection between Forbes/Fifth connecting with Brady street would be cool. Only addresses connecting from the trail to uptown, doesn't matter for the bridge especially given it has ramps from Forbes and Fifth so maybe off the table but it's ~right there~.
Direct connection from bridge to Jail Trail. There's only 20 or so feet of elevation difference. How hard can this be?
Maybe some "No bus parking" signs
I'm not sure I'd assume that a bridge that quite literally went off its rockers not that long ago
has sufficient weight-bearing capacity to hang a bunch more steel and concrete off it, but it is an interesting thought.
Seems to me that you wouldn't need to hang anything off the bridge for a ramp to the EFT, just a self-supporting ramp that attaches at the side.
I posted this in the "cars hitting buildings" thread too, but thought it would add to this discussion.
Police are looking into a deadly Tuesday morning crash along the Oakland side of the Birmingham Bridge.http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/09/16/fatal-crash-on-the-birmingham-bridge/
This would seem to me to me to be a drunk driver at 3 o'clock in the morning - but how can we make these bike lanes more protected?
Connections from bridge to useful places ...
Near the south end of the southbound bike lane: A little bit before the bike lane disappears, it would be easy to pave a route over to the playground, which would let you get to S 22nd St. You could then go west on the lower-traffic neighborhood streets and avoid the intersection at the end of the bridge.
I haven't checked recently, but it used to be a possibility to pave a dirt path under the south end of the bridge, south of the tracks, at about Wharton St. This would allow traffic coming off the bridge to go east. It would also allow traffic headed from town across the bridge to sneak under the bridge and get on the northbound bike lanes without making a left from Carson.
On the north end of the bridge, there's a possibility for bikes going northbound on the bridge to get onto the Jail Trail. Take the ramp to Forbes. Use the pedestrian crossing (less than ideal, true) to cross the end of the ramp. Widen the sidewalk along Forbes as a bike route to go west to Brady St. Widen the sidewalk that goes halfway down (and just stops!!!). Where the sidewalk ends, there's room to pave a bike track over the big rocks to the ramp that goes from the bottom of Brady St up to the Jail Trail.
Going the other way, from the jail trail to the Birmingham bridge, the same bike track from the jail trail up alongside Brady St would allow a couple of rights to get onto the southbound bike lane.
This is a little awkward, but it doesn't require any structural modifications to the bridge.
Thinking in terms of making things as unconfusing as possible on the south end, can we make the cut through at sidney street under the bridge? It would be nice since it continues further and requires less way finding... it's direct between the trail accesses in either direction (18th and hot metal) and of course goes right through the middle of southside works without tangling with Carson at all.
As for the North end, Brady street, what's the width? Is there really any traffic? I think in terms of lane up sharrow down there.
Nope, can't make it, for precisely the reasons buffalo^2 mentioned.
The meeting was poor, all show and tell, no input considered, except ~maybe~ consideration for covers over the tiger-teeth joints specifically in the bike lane.
This thing in particular was so rushed start to finish because the bridge was in such imminent danger of collapse. But still, maddening.
The advice I was given about being at the front rather than the rear end of the process (to the extent there was much of one here, get the strong sense it might have been shortcutted) was getting involved with the spc (http://www.spcregion.org/
It was indeed a show-and-tell about the essentially-final design, and I got the impression that an early-stage public meeting was not held.
Good news is that the City requires them to keep the bike trails open under both ends of the bridge.
Potentially good news is that they'll look into putting plates over the expansion joints (bad news is that they don't see an alternative to the usual "tiger teeth")..
Bad news is that they've defined the project to exclude improvement to the connections at the ends of the bridge.
Potentially bad news is that they've decided how to color the bike lanes (latex-impregnated concrete overlay, or something like that) and will not consider alternatives. Potentially good news is that they'll consider piano keys or something else other than continuous color where the exit ramps to Forbes cross the bike lanes.
OTMA will be handling their community relations. It will be possible to ask questions via their website, which should also contain various documents of interest. http://birmingham.otmapgh.org
OTMA will operate the hotline for public coordination 412-687-4505
@byogman The Schenley Drive project is now at the front of the process. There should be public meetings this fall, it's important to participate then. See the thread on "Schenley Drive through golf course ...."
Very poor meeting indeed.
One other thing for in the good column is that the parking lot under the bridge in SS will remain mostly open during the construction. So anyone parking & biking from there should be ok
I talked with the Pendot project manager after the meeting and he seemed reasonable enough to talk to. He mentioned that their hands are tied on this project since it is strictly a "preservation" project and any add-ons would not be funded. He did suggest that some of the bike/ped issues concerning the south end of the bridge could possibly be added to the Carson Street project that will start their design phase later this year. It's very important for us to get out in front of that one if we can.
Sounds like the same *process* as in the West Carson project. Zero advance notice, inaccessible meeting time/place, zero chance to provide any meaningful input, zero chance to ask questions before the design was agreed upon, and any input we make will be tossed in the trashcan without so much as a glance.
^Ding ding ding, Winner!
Via the OTMA page, there was apparently a 'Public Stakeholder's Meeting' on July 26. I, for one, have no memory of this...
Nothing shows up on these boards. Certainly not best to be plugged into only one source, but I don't really know which all would be the key ones in this area, and whether a serious attempt was made through any of them to publicize the July 26th meeting. Am I too cynical of PennDot or trusting of us to think that if it passed us ALL by collectively, there must have been no such attempt?
IIRC, the only way @swalfoort learned about the West Carson project meeting was a chance encounter with someone in a hallway only a week ahead of the project.
Anytime something like this happens, I think about that line early in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", in which the Vogons explain to Arthur Dent that the project plans to eliminate Earth for an intergalactic highway had been on file at Earth's regional office on Alpha Centauri for the last 10,000 years.
@StuInMcCandless, It's even worse than that.
In 2008 a dozen bicyclists were involved in a few meetings with PennDOT on early planning of the PA51/West Carson project. These meetings generated a list of about 10 specific considerations about the design.
A quote from the correspondence: "it is critical for PennDOT to know that 51 is on the City Bike Routing system in order to address that mode when rehabbing the street". McKees Rocks was excited about the possibility of good bike connections.
Somewhere along the line we got cut out of the communication loop. There were also personnel changes. The result was that the project failed to recognize or incorporate that early work.
Seems appropriate to redundify my comment from the Wheelset of Fortune thread; re: the S. end of the Birmingham bridge – the right turn lane NEVER should have been the sweeping, exit-ramp-style turn. Neither westbound Carson Street onto the bridge. Should be a complete “T” type intersection. Reflects the persistence of highway-type thinking for city applications among m*****f****** traffic engineers.
If anyone knows any young people of an engineering bent, and interested in biking, suggest that they go into civil/traffic engineering. The whole profession needs to be ground down and re-booted.
@edmonds, this issue was brought up by a gentleman from a South Side organization who walks this intersection daily. He was asking if it was possible to put up a flashing watch for pedestrian sign. The Penndot/consultant response of ‘Sorry not part of the project’ rang hollow like for every other bike/ped issue brought up. And then with a tin-ear they kept saying that this project was to make the bridge “safer”.
It’s a $28M project yet they can’t put a few thousand dollars into a few signs? Maybe the far right has a point about dysfunctional government.
About the crosswalks on the ramp from Bridge to Carson -- in addition to "the project stops at the end of the bridge, that isn't our problem", he said "those ramps are 'yield' conditions" as if there were nothing else to be done. I thought about asking why they couldn't put up a "yield to pedestrians in crosswalk" sign, but the meeting had already run 10 minutes overtime and it didn't seem likely that asking would make any difference.
I would really like to gettaholda those auditors from the U.S. DOT who we talked to back in May 2013. IIRC, the whole point of them being here was to take a good hard look at the way PennDOT took information from the public. And we gave them an earful.
And here again, is a glaring example of what's wrong. Like Mary says, if they're going to spend $28M on bridge work, in an effort to make things safer, you'd think they could work in some money to actually [wait for it...] make things safer.
Otherwise, what will happen is that, unless another someone gets creamed trying to cross the street here, any requests to improve ped conditions at the end of the bridge will fall on deaf ears because "we just worked on that".
I don't think the $28M is to make things safer, it's just to preserve and maintain the bridge. The only non-maintenance item in the announcement at the top of this thread is "guiderail improvements", but that could be merely something like replacing worn-out guiderails with better models instead of the exact same models.
It's a shame that, while they're spending all this money to keep the bridge in good physical shape, they couldn't spend some to make it better for non-car users.
On the other hand, I don't think they can reasonably refuse future pedestrian or bike improvements by claiming it's too late because they just repaired some of the steel.
I am curious to see how much the project changes when taking into account the fatal wreck the other night.
@stu, I mentioned that accident while talking to the project manager. My point was to bring up the VERY high speeds on the bridge & the prevalence of DUI drivers leaving the Southside & Oakland bars. To make my point more relevant, I commented how drivers could be expected to continue this practice during construction when there will be lane closures and such thus making the bridge even more dangerous than usual. I asked if there were any plans to pay for increased speed enforcement during the project - but he did not know one way or the other. I assume there will be the usual secondary-detail cops helping with directing traffic (like at ball games), but I've witnessed these cops watch a driver go the wrong way in West End Circle without so much as raising a hand and waving at the driver.
We submitted the above idea to PennDOT, a central bike/walkway as a low cost way to not only accommodate cyclists, but to deal with the large number of peds who use the bridge and come from Oakland/Uptown and the Hill via 5th and Kirkpatrick. Currently people just use the shoulders and need to cross the interchanges. some jump the jersey barrier to the sidewalk eventually. Obv we'd still want the bike lanes on the sides for people going to/from Forbes. About 11% of the reported crashes on the bridge were ped related.
This also makes the bridge suddenly handicap accessible. It's not right now, because there is a staircase on the south end, which you wouldn't even know about until you got there.
I used to live at the oakland side of this bridge for 9 years, and I've seen people in wheelchairs crossing. I can't believe that they were able to get federal funds and not make this ADA compliant. This is one reason why i'm guessing that they were so insistent that this was simply a "rehabilitation" project.
The important thing is the above makes use of existing space, and requires no construction or hanging stuff off the sides
Any ideas where those fed funds came from? Perhaps a certain agency
could be convinced to lean on PennDOT...
As a result of this meeting, PennDOT has found design plans for putting plates over the tooth dam ("tiger teeth") expansion joints in bike lanes. See page 4 of
They are considering this design for the Birmingham project and other bridges.
So it's worth showing up at public meetings, even late-stage meetings. There may also be action between PennDOT and the City on improved bike/ped access at the Carson St end of the bridge.
@erok Is there a link to more info on that proposed plan?