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Dec 7: Public Meeting on West Carson Street Changes

Sorry for the late notice, but we just found out about this moments ago. The meeting is next Wednesday, December 7th from 5-7 PM in the West End at the James Center 327 South Main Street

Thanks to @swalfoort for these notes from a meeting with PennDOT and their consultant on the project from a year ago:

Route 51 Viaduct/West Carson Street Presentation ? David Cooper of the firm JMT presented the plans for improvement of Route 51 (West Carson Street) between the West End Circle and Stanhope Street, which forms the border between the City of Pittsburgh and McKees Rocks.

The purpose of the project is to replace a structurally deficient viaduct. In conjunction with that project objective, the project will also look to increase the vertical clearance at a CSX railroad crossing from 15 ft to 16 ft or more by slighting depressing the roadway in that location. The project will also provide enhanced bicycle and pedestrian accommodation, as this corridor serves as a key connector between downtown Pittsburgh and the west end communities in the City of Pittsburgh and the western suburbs beyond. Much needed drainage improvements and the enhancement of missing or substandard barriers and curbs will also be accomplished with this project.

A pedestrian/bicycle checklist completed as part of this project indicates that there are both bike/ped “generators” in this corridor, and visible pedestrians. A formal pedestrian count to determine HOW MANY pedestrians will be completed in the preliminary engineering stage of project development.

Currently, the roadway features a 38 ft. cartway width in a three traffic lane configuration (2 lanes outbound, 1 lane inbound), with a key pinch point at the railroad underpass. There are sidewalks the entire length, although they are not continuous and generally in severely deteriorated condition. On the river side of the road, the sidewalk is actually cantilevered over a shelf created by the adjacent railroad, with plywood used to cover gaping holes in some locations.

***The roadway has experienced 60 serious accidents and 4 fatalities during the time evaluated by the consultants.***

In their evaluation, it was determined that the three traffic lanes would have to be retained between the West End Circle and Corliss Street, although in theory a road diet (dropping one lane of traffic) could be feasible between Corliss and Stanhope, if turn lanes were provided at Tabor and Corliss Streets. To accommodate pedestrians and bicycles, a 12 ?14’ shared use path could be created on the river side of the road, which would be cantilevered out from the roadway. The estimated cost for this sort of improvements is about $20 million. In working on other design concepts for this updated roadway, several alternative approaches to pedestrian and bicycle accommodation were evaluated.

These options included:

? A three lane traffic configuration that had lane widths of 14ft, 10 ft and 14 ft, with 5 ft sidewalks on each side

? A 6 ft. exclusive bike lane inbound, with three traffic lan es having widths of 11 ft, 10 ft and 11 ft. This design would also include 5 ft sidewalks between the West End Circle and Stanhope

Street. (Design preference was for a bike lane inbound, and a Share the Road Program outbound)

All sidewalks will be replaced, and an effort will be made to eliminate the cantilever section between the busway entrance and the West End.

In response to questions from the meeting attendees, the consultant indicated that the project will leave an incomplete connection between the pedestrian/bicycle facilities in the West End Circle, and the West Carson Street viaduct. The bike lane that comes into the West End Circle will end before the ramp

to the West End, requiring bikes to share the road for a bit before reaching the new path on West Carson Street. This will require that cyclists using this connection be “bike savvy” and confident of their

abilities to ride in traffic. There will also be no bike lane or special bike accommodation on the ramps in the vicinity of the Circle. In that sense it is an imperfect solution. No new signals are anticipated as part of this project and an effort will be made to make address visibility concerns in the vicinity of barriers

and retaining walls, such as at the entrance to the West Busway at the eastern limits of the project area.

There was some consideration at one time of extending the bike lane across the ramp, as is done on the Birmingham Bridge. PennDOT indicated that they may take a look at that option again.

Other comments that came out during general discussion:

? Special crossings will be created for pedestrians and bicyclists at key locations.

? The City and the Port Authority agree that there are few outbound transit boardings in the project area.

? At the request of meeting attendees, PennDOT will consider extending bike lane markings across the entrance to the West Busway (technically just outside the project limits) and make other efforts to make bicycles and pedestrians visible at this skewed, slightly obscured intersection.

? Lighting under the railroad underpass will be improved

? Issues of local business owners, residents parking on the sidewalk on the inbound side of West Carson Street have been incorporated into project design. Alternative park ing options are being developed. Enforcement will be an issue that is outside the parameters of this project.

? All signals will be equipped with loop detectors or other equipment that will effectively detect cyclists

? Colored bike lane painting in key areas may be considered

In response to the discussi on that followed the presentation, PennDOT invited inquiries from the attendees on the status/plans for other projects in PennDOT District 11. A few of the observations:

? The Route 51/88 project will have sidewalks when the project is complete

? PennDOT is aware of the need for bike loop detectors at traffic signals, working toward 100% utilization

? Sidewalks will be installed in the Wexford Flats area; will use cameras for signal detection, which are effective for sensing cyclists

? the implementation of shared use markings, or sharrows, where bike lanes end should make the transition into traffic easier for cyclists

? PennDOT can install sharrows in PA, but the municipality must agree to maintain them

? SPC will provide PennDOT District 11 with a list of locations where existing sewer grates, drains or scuppers are known to pose a hazard to safe cycling due to the design or orientation of

structures, or due to deferred maintenance

2011-12-01 15:28:04

And, as a point of clarification....

What Scott posted above is a report on where the project design stood a year ago. I have heard that changes have been proposed that will eliminate some of the pedestrian-bicycle elements described above. We will learn more about the "current" design at the meeting on December 7th. If information becomes available before then, we will be sure to share it widely.

2011-12-01 15:43:27

The official meeting notice from PennDOT is posted below.

This meeting will address all elements of project design, not just the ped-bike elements. The consultants and PennDOT met with the SPC ped-bike committee a year ago, so they know this is an important regional project. Yet it is reported that important elements of the project have been altered to eliminate some of the previously proposed ped-bike elements.

To make sure that PennDOT gets the message that ped-bike accommodations on this corridor are important, and need to be retained, we need to see a good turnout at this meeting!


West Carson Street Project Public Meeting Next Wednesday in the West End of the City of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA – PennDOT District 11 is announcing a public information open house meeting to discuss a proposed project to reconstruct portions of the West Carson Street Corridor (State Route 0051) between the West End Circle and Stanhope Street in the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, will be held on December 7, 2011.

What: West Carson Street Viaduct Replacement and Corridor Improvement Project Public Information Open House Meeting

Where: James Centre, 327 South Main Street, Pittsburgh PA, 15220

When: 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Who: The meeting is open to everyone.

The purpose of the meeting is to present project plans, details and schedule information. Plans will be on display and input and feedback from attendees will be accepted. The proposed project, tentatively scheduled for construction in April 2013, will include viaduct structure replacement, roadway reconstruction, roadway drainage, traffic signal and sidewalk improvements.

The meeting location is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, if you or an individual with whom you are familiar does not speak English as their primary language and who has a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English desires to participate in this meeting or if you require special assistance to attend and/or participate in this meeting or need additional information please contact the Project Manager, Guy Rettura at (412) 429-3787. Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. If you feel that you have been denied the benefits of, or participation in a PennDOT program or activity, you may contact the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Equal Opportunity, DBE/Title VI Division, at 717 787-5891 or 800-468-4201.

Area residents who wish to learn more about the project or the public meeting can call Guy Rettura, P.E., P.L.S., Project Manager at (412) 429-3787 or by email at .

2011-12-01 16:24:30

I would like to see the city end of this tie into being able to use the abandoned railroad line from the WEC to the Wabash Tunnel, as described in the last paragraphs of this comment on this thread, and the first paragraph of the next comment (both by me, Summer 2010).

I was just thinking about this this morning. Right now, we can't use Wabash because Port Authority has a paperwork problem. We can't use the abandoned rail line because it just isn't usable. But if they're talking about the western end of this now, then now is the time to get that piece in place.

Just imagine: A level, traffic-free path from McKees Rocks and The Bottoms into the city!

2011-12-01 18:02:43

I should be able to get to this.

"A formal pedestrian count to determine HOW MANY pedestrians will be completed in the preliminary engineering stage of project development." Hopefully someone is/was bright enough NOT to do this during the Dec/Jan/Feb time of the year?

"In their evaluation, it was determined that the three traffic lanes would have to be retained between the West End Circle and Corliss Street,..." I find this conclusion extremely questionable.

"Sidewalks will be installed in the Wexford Flats area;..." ? Oopsie, someone not watching their cutting and pasting.

Anybody know if the the McKees Rocks CDC and ORTC people are being involved with this? Pretty significant to both.

2011-12-02 16:15:49

@edmonds - great to know you might be able to be there. I've sent the meeting materials to both McKees Rocks CDC (Taris) and to Vince and Nathan at ORTC.

The meeting notes that Scott posted were GENERALLY relavant to a presentation about the West Carson Street project. The overall discussion also included a brief recap of ped-bike relevant projects in PennDOT District 11 overall, hence the Wexford Flats reference. While not directly relevant to the question at hand, there are people on this board from all areas of the region (as you know.....) so, including that text might have been intentional, just as an FYI. But, my first thoughts were the same as yours.

Edited to add: While I have reached out to McKees Rocks and ORTC, please extend your own invitations to whomever you think relevant. We'd like to see good participation at this meeting, as I think it's a very important commuting corridor.

2011-12-02 16:50:43

Sidewalks *are* being installed in the Wexford Flats project, JSYK. A perfect business district in which NOT to ride a bicycle UNLESS on a sidewalk. But that's a different argument.

I too will try to make it to the meeting.

2011-12-02 18:31:14

In addition to all points mentioned above, what really needs discussed is the usage of the lanes by cars. Between the Rox and the West End Bridge, it's one lane coming in, and two going out. Sure, this may be for evacuation purposes or something similar and cannot be changed, but that stretch of the road is unnecessarily JAMMED in the morning with loads of people turning into Corliss Street or going up onto the West End Bridge. Not to mention the stoplights are NOT timed properly at Corliss St. and the Busway, because this causes quite a bit of backups in the morning.

As someone who heads home everyday via this route, as long as the road gets repaired and not patched with metal again, we only need one lane for leaving.

2011-12-06 14:10:21

Agreed. I have VERY rarely observed any significant slowdowns outbound. Why I seriously question the consultants conclusion that a lane outbound cannot be eliminated.

2011-12-06 14:14:28

Plenty of width available at the moment for one lane inbound and outbound, with space for bikes. Buses need the left turn lane at the busway.

Buses at the busway/Carson junction often have to wait an unduly amount of time. As a regular rider every day since the busway opened (Sept 10, 2000), it's always struck me how tipped the tables are in favor of car traffic. I remember sending a whole bunch of tweets in 2010, stopwatch in hand, timing the wait each morning at that light.

Outbound morning, a bus first in line at the light might wait 60 to 90 seconds to make the turn. Inbound, there's a sensor to trip the light, but half the time buses just make a right on red. If the trip sensor could be put back up the busway a few hundred yards so the light could guarantee a green for inbound buses, that would help level the playing field. Changing the inbound sensor and/or timer to limit the wait to 30 seconds, or even 15, would help the busway a *lot*.

2011-12-06 15:30:31

found this image on google street view. it looks like it should be in the Complete Streets Manual as a "before" shot with the cyclist, the person waiting for the bus who clearly had to put her life in danger to do so, and the wiiiiiiide wiiiide road.

2011-12-06 15:38:31

that dude is so close to the curb he looks like he's riding on it.

2011-12-06 15:40:07

@erok here's a link to the fatalities

My work browser will not let me access that site. Could someone summarize?

I asssume it is higher than a road of that length and level of traffic would warrant.

I think it's obvious to us here, that there needs to be a strong bicyclist and pedestrian presence at this meeting.

I think it's great that Edmunds59 is going! Dude, I will buy you a beer when I get the chance!

Who else is going?

2011-12-06 16:27:42

does anyone else think it is folly to use the actual number of bikers and pedestrians using the area to determine whether or not pedestrian and bike facilities should be put in?

2011-12-06 16:54:05

@HV - what do you propose as an alternative measure? It seems to me the numbers of cyclists and pedestrians is pretty relevant information for the state to use in determining where to spend the money.

2011-12-06 16:56:50

It seems to me the numbers of cyclists and pedestrians is pretty relevant information for the state to use in determining where to spend the money.

In cases like West Carson where the pedestrian infrastructure is poor-verging-on-dreadful, your number of such users would be very low, implying (from a budget allocation perspective) that there is no need to improve things for so few people.

I don't know what a better metric would likely would have to be based on projected usage, not current, in any case.

2011-12-06 17:06:46

@reddan - I see... so it's a sort of chicken/egg question, or even "if you build it, they will come" argument. I get it.

2011-12-06 17:10:13


For most intersections, current ped/bike use is the best measure. For West Carson. it's important that if those stats come up in the meeting that someone points out that ped/bike use might be much higher if the route wasn't a mortal hazard.

There aren't many other ways to get south-west on a bicycle. That is a critical factor here.

First time I rode to the West End on a bike it was for a February Saturday night blues show. I was so shaken by the trip, that I walked into a police station to ask about a better way back. (Those of you that know me, know how much I would avoid a police station on Saturday nights.)

There wasn't one - Except the route was better inbound.

2011-12-06 17:10:32

does anyone else think it is folly to use the actual number of bikers and pedestrians using the area to determine whether or not pedestrian and bike facilities should be put in?

I certainly do. it's like trying to see where to put a bridge based on how many people are swimming across. If you build it, they will come. it's pretty much proven to work for any mode, car, bike, ped, bus

2011-12-06 17:26:14

Right now it's kind of like gauging potential usage for the GAP trail between McKeesport and Ohiopyle based on counting the number of cyclists found on that rail line during a month in 1980.

A much better metric for potential usage would be to use a count of cyclists and pedestrians on a comparable route, such as from downtown to Homestead, or downtown to Millvale. I think that route would see that kind of leap with proper infrastructure.

I also plan to ask what consideration the consultants gave to thru-cyclists on the GAP to the Ohio River Trail, as this will be THE major connection.

I should have a couple of cocktails before the meeting, loosen things up! Hee-hee.

2011-12-06 17:49:37

The main reason I am going is that I *have* used that corridor on multiple non-motorized occasions. There likely are not that many people who have both walked and biked West Carson between WEC and Stanhope when there was a clear alternative.

One of these times was to hike from the West End Bridge to Sheraden after a 14" snowstorm at night, early 2003. Running, actually. Couldn't use the sidewalk, so ran in the driving lane, hurdling onto the sidewalk when a car (frequently) came.

Yeah, PennDOT engineers, try that some dark cold snowy night.

2011-12-06 17:59:28

@erok: it's like trying to see where to put a bridge based on how many people are swimming across

Awesome example. I shall likely plagiarize at some point.

2011-12-06 18:16:04

plagiarize away, i stole it meself. Arrrrrrrrrrr

2011-12-06 18:37:26

I really want to go to this but am trying to figure out how to get there since I'm on crutches again. Just saw a quick blurb in the PG and am sharing it widely to try to drum up attendance.

2011-12-06 21:34:24

OK so it looks like I can catch a bus fairly easily, but having never attended a meeting like this, I have some questions for you experienced folks.

1) I'm going to be about 30 minutes late due to work. Is that OK?

2) Should I prepare some comments about the importance of bike/ped infrastructure?

3) If not, what should I do once I'm there?

Also it would be cool to meet everyone in person, so I'll make it easy: I'll be wearing the bright green coat and rocking the crutches.

I'm terribly excited to see the western neighborhoods getting some attention for infrastructure improvements. I really love my side of town, but it could really use some attention.

2011-12-06 22:49:22

I have a couple of comments to share here.

We do most of the bike counts that are done in the region (although with considerable help from volunteers solicited here and elsewhere, thank you). We do them primarily because the first question we tend to hear is "how many cyclists (or pedestrians) are there, anyway?" Through our count program we have been able to illustrate that the number is higher than many decision makers expect -- even if we don't know how many there are. I raised that very issue at a recent meeting with PennDOT in the room, in the hopes of finding a standard or metric that would be acceptable to local decision makers. I'll keep you all posted on that.

Erok's example about counting swimmers to justify bridges is a good one. However, we can and do do better, through the sort of analagous routes projections described by Edmonds. And we do that as well. We also use data from a wide variety of sources to justify demand for ped-bike accomodation.

That said, the most powerful weapon is PennDOT's own ped-bike checklist. They are required to fill one out for any major project. One of the reasons we wanted them to do a presentation to the SPC ped-bike committee late last year was to be certain that they had completed the survey form and that it had demonstrated that the roadway was used by pedestrians and bicyclists. They got that message loud and clear. And, to PennDOT's great credit, they brought some heavy hitters to the meeting. These top level folks heard the message for themselves. We need ped-bike accommodation on West Carson Street.

It's unfortunate, but not entirely unprecedented, that we find ourselves in a position to have to REMIND PennDOT that this is an important corridor for pedestrians and cyclists. That is what we will have a chance to do tomorrow.

It's an open house style meeting. You can arrive any time during the 2 hour meeting window. There will be displays, and you can ask questions about the project as it currently stands. You can make comments. At most meetings you have the opportunity to provide written comments. You do not have to be there for the entire 2 hours.

What is most helpful in meetings like this is not the "idealistic" comment of your dreams of a city where every street includes a separated cycle track, etc. What is most helpful is your comments on how you might have been discouraged from using West Carson because of its condition; or how you might use it once it is made bike friendly. Tell them where you want to get to, but really can't (safely) now. Tell them your personal stories. If you don't have a story as relates directly to West Carson Street, share your story about some of the similar routes that Edmonds has mentioned...what you thought of the new cycle tracks on Route 837, and how you think they will be received by the cycling community (in terms of new users), or your experiences on using the Millvale trail to commute in to town(or any trail or commuter route) and how you've seen cycling activity increase in recent years. If you can tie it to a recent construction effort, so much the better. (PennDOT will be much more interested in cycling for transportation than cyling for recreation)

Among the things I intend to share is how on Monday, as I was coming down McClure Street to Beaver Avenue, another cyclist caught up with me (Hi, Rob!), and we rode into town together. At one point, I looked up, and saw two more cyclists just a couple blocks ahead of us. Four cyclists on Beaver Avenue, within a two block stretch as pretty remarkable to me, and I ride that route a lot. To folks like PennDOT, who don't notice cyclists in the same way I do, and who are not there during commuting hours, it might be eye opening. And this was on the corridor immediately across the Ohio River from their project area on West Carson Street.

Let's be their eyes and for this meeting, and at other upcoming opportunities along other important corridors. Maybe they'll show their appreciation by retaining ped-bike design elements along key commuting corridors.

I'll be there tomorrow. I hope to see many others as well. (sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now...)

2011-12-07 00:39:55

That was a highly informative soapbox.

2011-12-07 03:22:16

Agreed - that soapbox answered all of my questions for how this will work, and how I can help when I'm there.

2011-12-07 13:10:55

I have the bike with me today. I plan to bring it to the meeting. I'm hoping that having a helmet in my hand as I talk with them, while it's snowing outside, will give me some "cred", even if I do use a bus for the greater part of the trip.

2011-12-07 17:00:44

thank you sara, that's very useful insight

2011-12-07 17:17:32

I did a partial ride in and will be riding to the meeting as well. Fugly day.

2011-12-07 17:22:53

Definitely fugly.....

2011-12-07 18:37:33

Fugly, but not quite perfugly. Yet.

2011-12-07 19:03:20

Anyone planning on busing there: The 31 gets you right to the place, but the 26, 27, and 29 get you a block away, up on Steuben.

Using transitguru's System Map (PDF) really helps here.

Getting back is just the reverse. The 31 stops on S. Main at Sanctus, with trips at 5:17, 5:32, 5:47; then hourly thereafter: 6:48, 7:48, 8:48, 9:48; due into town top of the hour on those last few, 12-13 minutes otherwise.

Up on Steuben, inbound trips at 5:32, 6:22, 7:24, 8:24, 9:24 on the 26 Chartiers; 5:22, 5:54, 6:54, 7:54, 8:54, 9:54 on the 27 Fairywood; and a single inbound trip about 6:35 on the 29 Robinson.

2011-12-07 19:18:27

Sounds like they're dead set on having that middle turn lane. If they could do away with that, and use a turnaround at Stanhope, then we could avoid the sharrow idea.

Sharrows on a posted-35-and-everyone-goes-50-plus street sounds like a really bad idea.

After the meeting, I pondered the notion of ONLY replacing the crumbling viaduct (where West Carson crosses Chartiers Creek, near the West End Circle) and leaving everything else untouched. I don't think there's either the money or the political will to do the right thing.

2011-12-08 03:13:22

To summarize, the project design is terrible. It is a thoughtless, rote regurgitation of outdated traffic design thinking with the least possible effort given to reducing traffic speeds, increasing vehicular safety, and increasing pedestrian and bicycle friendliness. The consultants seem to be completely uninterested in any progressive traffic solutions in this enormously important corridor. Based on what I saw I wouldn't hire these consultants to design my driveway. Not to mention the fact that the public review process seems to have been incredibly shortchanged. The brakes need to be thrown on this thing immediately.

I messed up the least/greatest statement on #4 but I think they'll get the idea.

Carson 1

Carson 2

2011-12-08 11:52:16

The lack of thought toward slowing traffic is mind-boggling when you look at the number of fatalities on this stretch of road.

As I mentioned to everyone I met at the meeting, you cannot rely on enforcement in an area where there isn't even a shoulder for a car to be pulled over, or for a cop to sit and clock.

The stretch between the Corliss Tunnel and West End Circle is designed like a tunnel: Big wall, traffic lanes, small wall. It's impossible to get clocked for speeding there - and drivers know it and push the pedal down accordingly.

Even with the new design, I would never put my bike on this stretch of road. I'd rather go around on the hills.

2011-12-08 13:39:30

@pinky: love your point about lack of shoulders/law enforcement.

I would only edit one thing from your post however: it's more like a chute from Corliss to WEC. You pop in one end and shoot out the other.

2011-12-08 13:44:05

The funny thing is that until I went to the meeting yesterday, I didn't know that stretch is marked as 35 mph. Based on what I see on the bus speedometers on my commute, I assumed it was at least 45.

2011-12-08 13:57:21

I got to the meeting later than I had expected, but was pleasantly surprised to see such a large number of cyclists on the sign in sheet.

I thought the display boards at the meeting were the worst I've ever seen at this sort of meeting. Really, they told you nothing. You had to ASK for a description of the project.

I'll see if I can round up something more complete in the way of a project description. In the meantime, you can still provide written comments on this project until December 31st. The official line of communiciation is through the consultant JMT, in Coraopolis. The Project Manager is David Cooper. Comments may also be submitted to Guy Rettura, P.E., at PennDOT District 11 in Bridgeville.

2011-12-08 14:21:25

Putting 35 mph signs on West Carson, before or after rebuild, is about as pointless as putting 25 mph signs on Bigelow between the Bloomfield Bridge and Frank Curto Park. Maybe more pointless, because on Bigelow there's space for a cop to sit and patrol speeders. As pinky points out, cops cannot even patrol West Carson.

West Carson is a flume ride.

2011-12-08 14:36:04

There. #1 is W.Carson from W.E.C. to the Coliss tunnell, #2 is the foot of the western W.E.C. ramp at W. Carson. That took me about 15 minutes. If I had another 15 I could redesign the rest. Where should I send these?

A "center left turn lane" from W.E.C. to the Corliss tunnel is complete nonsense. What are you going to turn into, the cliff or the railroad tracks?

2011-12-08 14:36:55

Sara, do you think calls to Nick Kotik's office would be of any use? If nothing else, I think there are serious concerns about the execution of the public review process.

2011-12-08 14:46:00

@edmonds - only if you actually want to influence the design.....

so yes, bring him in.

Love your drawings, Except wait..... there are no pedestrians along the river side in the vicinity of the Corliss tunnel. All pedestrians (and sidewalks) will be relocated from the river side to the hill side just past the West Busway entrance. Mandatory pedestrian crossing (barely marked) just as cars enter the chute.)

I didn't think to include this in my comments last night, but I think that may also mean no outbound bus stops between the West Busway and McKees Rocks. Unless they just have passenger refuges in key locations, there will be no sidewalk outbound to accomodate them.

2011-12-08 15:12:42

I took pics of my comments, but they're almost unreadable. I ran out of time; they were packing up the easels as I was still writing, so I never really finished. Will try to transcribe them later.

2011-12-08 15:24:23

"...bus stops...Unless they just have passenger refuges in key locations,..."

JMT actually did think to include those, I have to give them that.

2011-12-08 17:00:45

The shelter and stop at the Duquesne Incline isn't horrid, though it does pinch the sidewalk uncomfortably. After last night's meeting, I was biking inbound on the outbound sidewalk (headed for the Ft Pitt Bridge walkway), and took special care there in case anyone was waiting just outside the shelter.

Not ideal, but workable.

2011-12-08 17:15:04

I have a much bigger problem with the stairs (and people using them there) than the bus shelter.

I don't know if it is accurate or not, but it seems as though people waiting for the bus know there is a decent amount of traffic that goes by on that sidewalk on the daily (or however often) occurrence they are waiting.

On the other hand, I have had peds have NO idea what is going on there as they go from stairs down to the parking lot, despite endless bell ringing and/or shouting (politely). On one or two occasions I have had to contra-flow on the road (terrifying)

2011-12-08 17:45:32

Thanks everyone who turned out to speak up, and a huge thanks to Sara for alerting us to this meeting.

I'm going to be writing PennDOT District-11 a letter and a letter to the editor of the PG in response to their article in today's paper that call the bicycle designs an "improvement." I encourage others to do the same.

2011-12-08 18:21:34

Done for the PG. Here's mine:

West Carson Street Reconstruction Prizes Speed for Safety

In Thursday’s edition, writer Jon Schmitz writes that the reconstruction of West Carson Street will include “improvements for bicyclists” and that the “configuration is designed to reduce crashes.” Unfortunately, from the point of view of this bicyclist, pedestrian, bus commuter, and driver, the new configuration prizes speed over safety.

Though West Carson Street is posted at a 35 m.p.h. speed limit, traffic flow regularly reaches 50 to 55 m.p.h., despite the current poor conditions of the pavement. The project design provides zero additions to slow and calm traffic, which is a major safety issue in this narrow corridor. Additionally, we cannot depend on police enforcement of speed since the configuration doesn’t allow for a shoulder for a car to pull over.

Sharing the road with traffic traveling 20 m.p.h. over the speed limit is not an improvement for bicyclists or drivers. We must do more to reduce traffic fatalities and make the western Pittsburgh neighborhoods accessible to all forms of transportation.

2011-12-08 18:53:10


2011-12-08 19:16:27

Great letter pinky, I'm going to have to up my game.

2011-12-08 19:18:26

Nice letter.

2011-12-08 19:32:11

if only we could convince people that increased speed doesn't actually increase traffic flow. i wonder how many people will read that (wonderful) letter and dismiss it because clearly this is someone who doesn't care about traffic jams.

2011-12-08 19:34:03

To PG;

"RE: West Carson Street to receive a $20 million makeover; I attended the public presentation of this project in the West End Wednesday night. I live in Robinson Township and work downtown, so I am extremely familiar with the route under discussion. I found the design presented by PennDot's consultants, JMT, to be completely inadequate. The design includes absolutely the least possible measures to slow traffic through this literally deadly corridor. There is no reasonable justification for maintaining two lanes of outbound traffic toward McKees Rocks, it is exactly that which encourages drivers to treat this route as a high speed thru-way, and not the 35 mph local street that it is. Pedestrian and bicycle "improvements" through this incredibly important corridor are cursory at best, and beyond inadequate.

To allow this project to proceed without major revisions to the design would be an enormous failure of opportunity, and a shameful misuse of 20 million dollars."

2011-12-08 19:35:47

Here's mine:

On 12/7, I attended a PennDOT meeting to discuss plans for rebuilding West Carson Street from the West End Circle to McKees Rocks. That some work must be done is not negotiable. West Carson itself will fall into Chartiers Creek if the aged, crumbling bridge it crosses near the West End Circle is not replaced, and soon. The problem is where to stop. This stretch of road has seen no real work since the 1950s, so everything is broken, breaking, inadequate or unsafe.

The plans call for a simple rebuild, with on-street sharrows for bicycles. That simply does not work on that kind of road. Bicycling McKnight Road is safer; I’ve done it. The proposal is scary and inherently unsafe. We deserve better.

Since there is not money, vision, nor the political will to do the right thing, I suggest we just replace the failing bridge. It would be better to leave a bad situation bad than to rebuild and label it “good” for another 50 years. Redo the rest when we can think straight.

2011-12-08 20:03:41

I finally get a minute to stick my head above water, and was excited to read the PG article... then sad to read this thread.

Why can't we just be as smart as we are? Why can't the state just do the right thing? It's not a secret to have smart designs. It's not proprietary to have good infrastructure. It's not even illegal (mostly). So why do we keep having to fight this same fight?

2011-12-09 02:48:51

SSDD, Ej. Just have to keep on swinging.

There is an ingrained institution here, Penndot, surrounded by a constellation of supporting institutions of "Traffic Engineering Consultants" that are not often prone to changing the mother institution due to ties of propriety and cash money. So it is a constant grinding process to move this behemoth a fraction.

Oh, if only Mia Birk would descend into this morass and save us, on her glowing white bike and diaphanous Showers Pass (Tm) raingear! I suppose we just have to do it .

2011-12-09 12:12:38

I haven’t been able to follow this closely, but putting a sidewalk up against the hillside sounds like a loser to me. Any water seeping from the hill will tend to collect and make ice & it will be in constant shadow so it won’t melt unless it is constantly salted which will cause the concrete to deteriorate. With road maintenance being squat in our area it will also tend to be covered with gravel and broken glass and become impassable. Hmm, sounds like the current situation with the sidewalk on the river side. Nevermind.

2011-12-09 13:59:15

Makes you want to rethink the whole way we do this kind of work, doesn't it? Right here in this thread we have not just cyclists, but transit users, pedestrians, regular car commuters, often multiple modes in just one user. Even I hadn't thought about the north-facing wall. (Thanks, Marko!) But you're right, *any* sort of path within four feet of that wall is dead space -- the usual glass and gravel and road kill, but also ice anytime it's sub-freezing.

Diaphanously clad bike ad ladies notwithstanding, we can design a better road -- nay, corridor -- for free, right here on this message board! And pretty much have!

Maybe if we charged $100K for our services, they'd take us seriously. We're getting nowhere giving it away for free.

2011-12-09 14:45:04

Water coming off the cliff is a serious issue that could and should be addressed as a part of this project. It could be resolved with a simple drainage design, but I don't know that the highly paid consultants have adressed that in their work.

Marko, wanna split the design fee, of $0?

2011-12-09 16:17:31

Hey, jmt has a job opening for a project manager ...

2011-12-09 16:43:01

edmonds, send them drawings in, see if you get the job

2011-12-09 17:09:55

Mm, Arlington, sounds nice, but if I ever leave the 'burgh it's going to require a lot more palm trees and salt water than the Potomac has to offer.

2011-12-09 19:10:43

Hey Edmounds, I'll split the consulting fees with you as long as OTB has a beer special going on. This shouldnt be that hard, didnt Romans build multipurpose roads? Ya know, Ox carts AND donkey carts - not to mention those guys in skirts (sorry Reddan).

2011-12-10 02:21:21

Swalfoort - would you have time or feel comfortable outlining what you know of the history of this project on here? You mentioned that there was a previous SPC bike/ped meeting, what expectations were there, where this this is in process, abbreviated announcement of meeting times, that sort of thing. Or just PM me. I would like to make some phone calls.

2011-12-12 13:30:17

@Edmonds, I'll try to pull something together this morning.

2011-12-12 14:28:40

The PG just called. They're going to run my letter. I made a couple of tweaks to what I said above, but it's pretty much the same.

2011-12-12 17:19:10

I agree with the assessment that the sidewalk will be debris-ridden in mere months. Will there be no sort of retaining wall at all along the hillside then?

Maybe alternatively if part of this plan there should be an agreement at the very least to clear this sidewalk at least on a MONTHLY basis by the city, PennDOT or whoever.

2011-12-12 18:47:49

The only sticking point I have with Stu's letter is that it opens up the possibility in the Mind of the General Public that the project should be scaled back to a minimal scope. This project needs to be done and done right. Otherwise, excellent!

Swalfoort, our company holiday party is this afternoon and there is the possiblility that I will have the undivided attention of a direct aide to one of our Congressmen. Any recommendations as to approach, other than things I have previously stated? And, briefly, what was the recommendation of the SPC Bike/Ped review? Thanks!

2011-12-15 14:45:50

@edmonds, "Any recommendations as to approach.." Yeah, don't choke the guy. Just say’n.

2011-12-15 14:58:41

@Edmonds, crap. I forgot. I started a long post in response to your last post, but lost it in cyberspace. I'll redo it in Word and cut and paste it here in the next couple of minutes.

2011-12-15 15:08:39

Edmonds - it's too long to post here. Can you send me you email address via PM? Thanks!

Nevermind! I was able to google it and get the information I needed. Check your work email.

2011-12-15 16:30:44

What, I have a work email? Sweet.


2011-12-15 16:58:49

sara - you can make it a google doc and then post the link. if you don't have a google account, just send me the doc and i can do it

2011-12-15 17:00:46

Here's what I *don't* want to have happen. Please follow along to the sequence; it's not an itemized list.

1. The bridge is failing, so we have to do something.

2. The whole road is in rotten shape, so we should fix it, too, since we have to partially close it to do the bridge work.

3. There's $70M of work that *could* be done along there but we only have $20M to work with. (Picking a number out of the sky, way beyond $20M, anyway.)

4. We know we have to do this-this-and-this to make it truly usable, but that's going to have to wait for another $50M to come along.

5. So we do the $20M work.

6. We can no longer consider anything in this whole corridor for any real improvement for DECADES because "we just worked on that."

Yes, I am indeed saying, cut the scope back to minimal. Leave it broken.

If you think you can get through to a congressman or anyone at PennDOT that the project plans are worse than doing nothing, please do, and more power to you.

Let's instead devise a vision of what that corridor should be. How CAN my 12-year-old kid bike from McKees Rocks to some event at Station Square or thereabouts? Unless and until we can talk intelligently about that, then do nothing beyond fixing the broken bridge.

2011-12-15 17:25:41

After the 12/7 meeting, I biked all the way from the meeting site in the West End to Federal and Henderson on the North Side in only about 15 minutes. It's amazing how quickly and easily you can get around by bike. But West Carson is scary, and that includes the part they just redid a couple years ago, from Ft Pitt Br to WEC.

2011-12-15 17:29:09

Well I didn't get the face time I had hoped for, a little disappointing but I will continue to work on this. Good party though. Today is going to be challenging. No loud noises plz.

2011-12-16 12:56:07

Oh well, things like that often don't work out the way we hope. But, I appreciate that you'll continue the dialogue when/where you can.

No loud noises? Must have been a GOOD party! I almost wish I had the ability to send a virtual cymbal crash, or something! Ohh, that's mean. Maybe a virtual aspirin, would be better? With lots of water?

2011-12-16 14:39:18

So I rode home today on West Carson right through the area that was discussed here (and I must say, completely uneventful). A circumstance has taken place that completely disposes the alleged analysis that was done by the Penndot "consultant".

A section of the roadway under discussion has actually started to collapse, so someone's department of public works installed a section of concrete Jersey barriers along about a 300 yard section, narrowing W. Carson to one lane inbound and one lane outbound. The consultants contend that a bike or multi-use lane could not be created through here because 2 outbound lanes are necesary to maintain traffic flow.

These pics are taken at about 6:00 pm, today, Wednesday, March 21, 2012.

1. Right before the narrowing, outbound:

2. A little closer to the barriers, see the traffic congestion? No? Neither did I. I actually had to wait a minute just to get some cars in the picture:

3. From the other side looking back toward town, shows a little better the setup:

The space you can see behind the jersey barriers could effectively be a ped/bike lane the whole way from the West End Circle to McKees Rocks. So how do we get this stupid design rejected and a decent plan put in place?????

2012-03-22 01:00:43

why not have the residences and businesses along west carson petition the city and penndot to install on street parking?

every business loves more parking than they'll ever need, and the installation of the parking will include a protected bike/pedestrian lane to the corliss tunnel. an at-grade lane and/or extended sidewalk on the business/residence side of the street would heighten the probability that it will be maintained during inclement weather.

from the tunnel to the west end circle, maybe a user actuated crossing signal to a widened sidewalk along the northbound side.

diverting the conversation away from strictly bike/ped infrastructure and towards parking and traffic calming will allow pennDOT an opportunity to work with the city in a manner we ultimately believe should apply elsewhere and throughout the city.

2012-03-22 01:32:13

@edmonds59 -- This is pretty much off the top of my head and may require further thought, but it's out here for consideration.

PennDOT is all about safety and bureaucrats being bureaucrats. I'm sure that have a bazillion things to justify their decision, from AADT to who knows what.

I'd consider studying the materials and information they used to formulate the plan with the idea of critically debunking it. I'm guessing that info should be available to the public since they use it in their public hearings they do for work lie this. Then I would also develop the alternative plan and support it with what materials you can develop to back it.

Hopefully they aren't too far into their planning process to be wedded to whatever idea they hve at the moment.

@swalfoort, can you give some practical advice to Bill and anyone else interested here?

2012-03-22 01:33:22

@sloaps -- an interesting idea. The one problem I see with it if I understand the street layout correctly is safety issues no matter which side you park on. If you put the parking on the river side, then you have pedestrian traffic trying to cross 2-3 lanes of traffic. If you put it on the land side next to the buildings, then you have cars trying to cross 2-3 lanes of traffic to park facing the traffic flow. I don't think PennDOT would consider that "safe". But if there is some way to address those issues, it might be possible to come up with something like you propose.

2012-03-22 01:40:46

Now that I think back I realize I mistated the consultants proposal - their design is actually for 1 lane in, 1 lane out, with a center turning lane. However, that is exactly the design that Penndot used on Steubenville Pike through Robinson, right up the hill from my house, and it has absolutely not improved safety. In fact, cars simply use the center turn lane as an illegal high speed passing lane to get past cars turning right. It's awful.

2012-03-22 01:47:16

@edmonds59 -- I think you may have just found one of your arguments against their proposal.

1. PennDOT may not even be aware that is how the Steubenville Pike plan turned out and might be amenable to changing this plan if they were made aware of it.

2. Again, I'd want to see the studies/info they worked with to see if it addresses the kind of design issue you described.

2012-03-22 02:45:54


Agreed. I've heard stories from my parents and others that back in the day Route 22 from Murrysville to like Ebensburg was the exact same two lanes plus center turning lane. It was notorious as a "death stretch" for folks using the middle lane as a high-speed passing lane and that occasionally resulted in horrendous high-speed head-to-head collisions in this way.

There is no way that a design like that is anything but archaic and unsafe, and that's just for DRIVERS!

2012-03-23 21:39:27
Story in PG today (gee, if only someone had thought of bike infra sooner) McKees Rocks Chartiers Avenue revitalization nears construction phase... The plan envisions better connections of the residential areas in McKees Rocks with the business district by adding new steps, walkways, and perhaps even a dedicated bike lane on West Carson Street. “Bike infrastructure is critical to put us on the map,” Mr. Vrcek said.
2014-12-12 13:41:19
While it is hard to read this in 2014, I have to give kudos to McKees Rocks CDC for really coming to the table in a big way. They have some really interesting development occurring right now, and more just around the corner. Fortunately, they are active partners with the ORTC, the County, Bike Pittsburgh and others and are clear in their expectations that pedestrian and bicycle improvements are part of these revitalization designs. We'll see changes, and improvements in the walking and cycling experience in McKees Rocks. West Carson Street inbound from McKees Rocks will remain a nightmare, but there's nothing to be done there while construction is underway (ironically.)
2014-12-12 15:12:41
Re-reading this two months later, it occurs to me that not one but two of our own may have inside info on that proposal. I suspect that they've been sworn to radio silence. I won't out them here, but it gives me joy to see the name of that design firm involved in the Rocks project. That aside, the reason why I'm reviving this thread is that I thought of a very large idea that I've mentioned in other threads, which ties together some other large ideas that have been proposed. To wit: * We've already discussed extending the Ohio River Trail from the Coraopolis end of the Montour Trail downstream. That's a live project; no need to expound upon it here. * We've also discussed at length, above in this thread as well as others, a means of getting from downtown to McKees Rocks along a not-yet-agreed-to routing, be it alongside West Carson or something else. * I have previously proposed a trail from the south end of the Wabash Tunnel, to connect West Liberty Avenue and West Carson just downstream of the West End Circle. To that, I further propose an on-street bike route from West Carson at River Avenue, through the Bottoms along Shingiss Street, continuing past the McKees Rocks Bridge along Nichol Ave, to Ohio Street, then crossing the abandoned footbridge across the tracks to Island Ave, where it would pick up existing routing over to Neville Island. The only real work would be in refurbishing the old footbridge. That it would bypass the main Rox business district could be a pro or a con. I see it as a pro, as it keeps bike traffic to low-use neighborhood streets But if the whole thing was constructed: * Ohio River Trail extension * Trail to McKees Rocks * Upper trail through McKees Rocks main business district * Lower trail through McKees Rocks Bottoms * Some sort of facility along West Carson * Some sort of connection to upstream of 1600 WCarson, to GAP * Path along old railroad right-of-way to south portal of Wabash, and to West Liberty Ave * Bike access through Wabash ...then you have connected an entire quadrant of the county, with direct access to the city on two paths.
2015-02-09 21:11:03
Is that all? "Some sort of facility along West Carson." With current PennDot mentality that's kind of equivalent to saying "all you need to get to Mars is, you know, some kind of rocket".
2015-02-10 06:46:18
I was being intentionally vague, just getting a list made. My wording. My point was that I think there is value in having a bike path of some sort through the Bottoms and over that dead bridge. If that bridge can be rebuilt on the same foundations, it would provide a handy way to get cyclists through the Rox without having to deal with the congestion of the town center, the trucks on most of Island Avenue, and the screwy corner by the bridge.
2015-02-10 18:23:25
West Carson will be done well - As soon as bike transportation becomes a real priority.  Maybe in 2025 or so.  When they last modified the W carson/  W.E. Bridge intersection,  PennDot gave us the finger.
2017-11-16 19:06:11
What about the Esplen bus stops?
2017-11-16 19:41:18
Ohhhh, this thread. I re-read the first page and I want to cry. This thread is the history of how PennDOT screwed over the cycling community, and the taxpayers, in such a big way. To be clear, the “Dec 7” is from six years ago. What was the final tally on cost? I recall $42 million being mentioned. If accurate, then more than double the original budget estimate of $20 million. And what did we end up with? An unusable road for cycling. I would love to do a bike traffic count for all day on West Carson, to see if anyone bikes this corridor, ever. Even if on the sidewalk. I would also like to see a summary of traffic crashes since opening day in 2015. I would further like to see a sampling of traffic speeds along various stretches. I’m not out there every week or every day like I was six, seven years ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still a 45-50 mph cattle chute. And lastly, I don’t see anything changing on this road in a generation.
2017-11-17 00:40:45
@stu, the road reopened last year. It was supposed to be open in 2015, but the project fell behind schedule, bigly. I'm on this road when I go to work, taking the 21 bus. Some observations:
  • I do see cyclists and pedestrians on the sidewalk. Not counting the Dennis Flanagan memorial ride, I think I've only seen one cyclist on the road, going inbound after the West Busway entrance. Riding inbound is a little easier, since it's slightly downhill.
  • Drivers habitually exceed the 35 mph speed limit, especially in the section between the West Busway and the West End Circle. PennDOT put up digital speed checks a few months ago in several spots. Some drivers (including my regular bus driver) slow down to the speed limit whenever they see these. Others don't. By the way, these signs, which run on solar power and batteries, have run out of batteries already.
  • The outbound merge lane after the West End Circle is too long, and drivers sometimes treat as a passing lane.
Long story short, this road is not safe for cycling.
2017-11-17 10:00:14
@Stu, @Chrishent, Once the legislation for radar speed enforcement gets passed, I think city police (On bicycle) should frequent this stretch of road and write tickets to anyone traveling over the speed limit. Also, reducing the speed limit to 25 or 30 MPH would also be a good idea since fast travel is completely unnecessary because of the traffic lights. If someone wants fast travel, stick to the Parkway and Rt. 65 where it is unlikely to find cyclists and pedestrians as well as no traffic lights.
2017-11-18 10:54:58
Speed cameras are not happening before 2020. Speed enforcement on West Carson any other way will not happen, ever. A redesign? We can have a friendly bet as to whether that or a subway extension will happen sooner. I wouldn’t guess any sooner than 2030. Back in this thread is my letter to Mr. Cessna at PennDOT when the final design was chosen. That was 2013, and IIRC I was guessing 20 years from then, so 2033. Place your bets accordingly.
2017-11-19 05:29:09
PennDot should install speed cameras so the State Police can write tickets and have them mailed to the vehicle owners house. Does anyone know where to exit the outbound bus for access to Esplen and Corliss St. since there are no bus stops on that side of the road? Inbound Only
  • W. Carson St. at Tabor St.
  • W. Carson St. at Saginaw St.
  • W. Carson St. at Earl St.
  • W. Carson St. at Glenmawr Ave.
  • W. Carson St. at Corliss Tunnel NS
Outbound Only
  • W. Carson St. at West End Bridge Steps
  • W. Carson St. opp. Busway Ramp FS
Inbound and outbound
  • Stranhope St. at W. Carson St NS/Stranhope St. at W. Carson St. FS
  • W. Carson St. opp Gateway View Plaza/W. Carson St at Gateway View Plaza
  • W. Carson St. at Fort Pitt Bridge/W. Carson St opp Duquesne Incline
2017-11-19 10:20:58
You could get off at the next outbound stop after your destination, then take an inbound bus. Four routes travel that way, so at some times of day the wait might not be too bad. Or walk, if your destination is close enough and there's a sidewalk to it. The walk from 95% of Esplen over to Stanhope is less than the walk from, say, a random spot in neighboring Sheridan to the nearest bus stop. A random spot in Esplen is probably a quarter mile on foot from Stanhope, ignoring that Powell Street section.
2017-11-19 12:46:04
How much use do these bus stops get? Is Rt. 51 safer for biking once it leaves W. Carson St. into McKees Rocks?
2017-11-19 14:43:13
Once you get to Stanhope St, it’s back to the usual. Though at the north end of the Rox, using Neville Island is much preferable to staying on 51. For that matter, you can avoid much of the commercial district of the Rox by staying straight at Stanhope and turning across the tracks to River Ave. But as to West Carson, I have no recent data on bike usage, either direction, any time of day or day of the week. Nor do I have any recent, reliable data on traffic speeds. I would rather this thread focus on that.
2017-11-20 19:12:00
@Stu, Today, I did see one eastbound cyclist near Gateway View Plaza. I also noticed that the sidewalk switches sides at the Busway entrance which is also at the top of a hill. I suppose I could cross the West End Bridge sidewalk and get on the sidewalk of W. Carson St to climb the hill. Upon reaching the Busway, hit the beg button so traffic will stop, wait for the walk signal, and get in the lane to descend the hill into Esplen. Does the sidewalk on the WEB or W. Carson St. have glass on it?
2017-11-20 21:02:33
It's common to see bikes on W. Carson near Gateway View Plaza. It's far less common to see them on the outer side of the West End Circle. PennDOT's plan was to have bikes use the driving lane of West Carson all the way to McKees Rocks, and that's what got built, and signed. They totally expect you to use it in its current form. Don't. Nine days after it opened, a man got killed on a bike trying to cross from one sidewalk to the other, at the very spot you mentioned.
2017-11-22 05:30:52
I thought they were planning to put sharrows in as a half-assed accomodation. They didn't even do that. I'm glad they didn't though, as it would probably be worse to entice lesser abled cyclists to this corridor.
2017-11-22 11:49:46
I do not see sharrows on StreetView which was shot in October 2016, after the road was re-opened. I do see one "Share the road" sign, just before the busway turn, outbound. At this point, StreetView preserves the remnant blood spot and the police's paint markings from where the cyclist got killed.
2017-11-22 19:42:35
There is another Share the road sign here: If these signs were dismantled and at least five Bikes may use full lane signs in each direction erected along with sharrows and green paint near the intersections, would that help at all?
2017-11-22 23:24:36
No. Emphatically, no. Signs don’t mean a thing. Maybe I’m too jaded, but I look at West Carson as a lost cause. It took almost 60 years to re-do the road at all after pulling out the Point Bridge, other than pave over the trolley tracks. I fear that the total absence of cyclists along there, PennDOT sees as a success, not a failure.
2017-11-23 20:35:41
@Stu, They successfully got away with murder and should have to pay for it! What is the feasible alternative other than buses, boats, hill climbing, or river crossing?
2017-11-24 12:21:56
This is not the only thread on the message board about West Carson. There was another right after the man was killed. You might find some ideas in that which are still worth pursuing.
2017-11-24 13:28:20
There is zero guarantee that a radar bill will pass this year.  They've been introduced every year for decades and every Jan 1 at 12:01 am they die. Same will probably happen this year
2017-11-24 15:56:07
I've been regularly seeing a tall guy on a gray Surly commuting into town thru the 'Rocks and down W. Carson around 8 am. You on here? If so, kudos.
2017-12-06 12:18:38
(Cross-posting here from another topic, for continuing discussion) I rode to work today for the first time in ages. The route involved using West Carson St between downtown and Mckees Rocks, and then following PA51 through the Rocks/Stowe until crossing over into Neville Island. Some notes:
  • I took the sidewalk pretty much all the way to Mckees Rocks. There's a few bad spots near/under the West End bridge, where the sidewalk is crumbling, and there are no ADA curb ramps. There is also a lot of overgrowth in some spots, first near the West End bridge, and then past Glen Mawr St. It almost forces you to dismount. I debated going on the road once I got past the West Busway ramp, since that section has that ridiculously long turning lane, but decided otherwise. Sigh...
  • Once in the Rocks, I went on the road the rest of the way. Island Ave was fine, except for one muddy spot on the right where I should have taken the lane.
  • The Neville Island bike lane was OK for the most part, but it needs to be swept. Allegheny County was running a sweeper last year on it last year, but I haven't seen it or any evidence that it has been there recently.
I reported the overgrowth on West Carson to PennDOT. We'll see if anything comes out of that. I'll report the crappy sidewalks near the West End bridge to 311, though this might be a PennDOT issue, too. I'll also request sweeping to Allgheny County for Neville Island. Fingers crossed...
2018-06-12 08:24:41
I think this is the famous conundrum -- Penndot - sidewalks are maintained by the city City - sidewalks are maintained by Penndot And nothing ever gets done about this. There have been yearly summer complaints about overgrowth in that section. This would be a perfect issue for the peds-bike coordinator to take up, along with maintenance of other split county/state-city sidewalks -- bridges, Butler street right off the HPB, etc. However, I've emailed her many, many times over the years and have never gotten a response. If she's not an advocate for this, I'm not sure anyone can get anything done with this other than cutting it ourselves. (and cleaning up the sidewalks ourselves)  
2018-06-13 07:00:05
Update: I heard back from PennDOT. Their inspector called me back and said he had gone out to check the area, but said that unless it's a roadway issue, then the city is responsible for maintaining it (i.e. the sidewalk on West Carson St.). He recommended putting in a 311 request, which I did. To be continued...
2018-06-20 15:33:25
With all due respect, rather than the bicycle coordinator, who has her hands full dealing with planning, I'd suggest contacting the council representative for that area. I think you'll have better luck. At least, you should get a response. They have people who are paid to respond to citizen complaints. Even better if you are a local resident or employed in the district. That is District 2, Theresa Kail-Smith. Jill Nolan Harris, Constituent Services Liason 412-255-8963
2018-06-20 15:41:12
Happy to report that someone went ahead and trimmed the overgrowth between the West Busway and Earl St.  This was done before I put in a 311 request, so maybe someone else complained, or DPW checks on this on a semi-regular basis. I'll continue to keep an eye on it.
2018-06-21 09:04:17