Hi BikePgh community,
As many of you know, last summer Riverlife announced a community campaign to raise the final money needed to build the Mon Wharf Switchback, a Downtown bike-ped ramp that will connect the Smithfield Street Bridge down to the Mon Wharf Landing and bring the Great Allegheny Passage directly into Point State Park. The community response was incredible, with over $7,700 donated by 130 individuals in just a matter of days. We’ve been busy all fall and winter working on the Switchback, and as stewards of this project we wanted to give you a candid update on its status.
Building connections to our rivers always requires innovation, and the process for the Switchback has taken longer than we expected. Last fall, estimates for materials came back much higher than anticipated due to the fluctuating cost of steel for such a sizable structure. The site itself—directly adjacent to busy Interstate 376, on a steep riverbank under a historic bridge —has proven to be a challenging location for staging construction, requiring meticulous planning as we only have one chance to execute the project.
In order to keep the Switchback within the original budget, we’re working with a team of engineers to look at alternative materials and determine design efficiencies. This productive process will allow us to build the highest quality and most affordable Switchback possible. Bidding for construction is still on track for 2014.
To all cyclists, trail users, downtown residents and Switchback enthusiasts: thank you for your support and patience.
This is a community effort that will result in a huge community asset when complete, one that will serve millions of trail users and, we hope, last for generations. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our progress. For breaking news, check out www.riverlifepgh.org
Riverlife Communications Director
We're all very excited by what this connection would mean. The successful fundraising campaign was a temperature gadge of that.
However, our ability to contribute as individuals directly pales in comparison to the major donors or would be donors. Obviously we're all hopeful the engineers can close as much of the funding gap as possible with more efficient design.
But to the extent a gap remains, to minimize the chance that this stalls, is there an appropriate means or forum in which to express what it would mean, perhaps in personalized terms? I believe once you get enough of those sorts of stories, that that may sway one or more deep pocketed foundations, corporate entities, etc..
I'll just say for my part, the number of kid friendly destinations across the ft. duquesne pedestrian bridge (aviary, science center, children's museum) makes this an easy one for me.
Thanks for all the work on this. Sounds like a complicated project only slightly harder than herding wild cats.
I think getting it done right the first time is certainly a vald goal. thank you for the update. We'll look forward to hearing more when you're able to report it.
Stephan, kudos to you and Riverlife.
Sidebar first: I think it was Riverlife that just very recently installed the new drainage on either side of the trail down by the RiverTech incubators, on the Baldwin Borough Trail? Very nicely done.
Is the meaning of the candid update: Riverlife expects bidding in 2014, but doesn't expect a Switchback opening until at least 2015?
Thanks for the words of encouragement, everyone. Vannevar, to answer your question we were not responsible for the trail drainage improvements by RiverTech but applaud whoever was!
As for when to expect the Switchback project - we've learned the hard way that assigning timelines to big outdoor construction projects like this isn't always advisable, as there are so many factors in the process that can change the schedule. I think many of our trail- and park-building partners would agree. Please know that while we're not issuing a public timeline at this point, the Mon Wharf Switchback is a top priority at Riverlife and people are working long hours every day to get it designed, bid and build as quickly as possible. Again, we appreciate your patience and understanding.
Byogman and Srpit - thanks for your perspectives and I'm interested in collecting stories and testimonials that will speak to the demand for this project and create momentum whenever possible. Again, let me emphasize that the project is moving forward at full speed, but user testimonials always add more wind to the sails. I'll post back here when we're ready to spotlight those stories.
I can add a testimonial about how I definitely felt cheated by having to detour on streets when I set off for DC in September, so now I'm going to have to do the whole thing again.
More seriously, I certainly look forward to no longer having to give people (especially out-of-towners or people with kids in tow) sketchy directions about how to get to the Point from the trail or vice versa. I am not there *that* often but there always seems to be someone lost or confused.
Can't wait, this will be awesome. Those wayfinding signs are great as well. The more the better!
Have there been any more updates on this?
I don't know what the official word is, but I talked with someone involved with the project the other day. They're being really aggressive, and I think he said they're trying to get it out for bid in January.
this is a big missing link
also, the new signage is really excellent. I think that next spring there'll be a reduction in transient cyclists stumped on the navigation.
Being aggressive with trying to get it started&finished or with answering your questions? I hope the former.
@rg with getting it started. I guess if it goes out for bid January it could start construction in 2015.
Or, the bids all come in too high. And it's back to the drawing board. (This shouldn't necessarily happen if the design process was on track...)
Awesome! No more awkward riding around the Grant St lights when heading to Point State Park!
Does anybody know if there's a plan to install a (better) connection between the Mon Wharf and PSP? I know that you can get on the sidewalk there to access those areas but it's kind of hidden and not set up for two-lane bike traffic. A short boardwalk would be nice...
I don't know the details, but my understanding is that the connection to the Point is part of the plan as well. Don't know if it will be worked on at the same time or not.
Greetings Bike PGH community from the Project Manager of the Switchback!
I have been working on the switchback for the last six months and am thrilled to share that we have a phenomenal team who has been mindful of design integrity as well as cost realities. Our design is 95% complete and we are going through the final stages of permitting for city, state and federal approval. In fact - we just received approval from the Art Commission!
The switchback has been an extremely complicated project – with multiple hurdles cleared along the way. We plan to go out to bid by the end of this year or early next.
The Mon Wharf/Point State Park Connector at the western end of the Mon Wharf is also under design - and this is managed by DCNR (PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources). We are hoping to sync our bid and construction timelines.
I would love to meet with anyone curious about the design or the process and would even propose a bike ride down to the site. Here is a link to a longer post - and specific to our recent grant!
Please feel free to ask any questions! Thanks!
All my best,
Thanks for the update!
Do you know if the connector the DCNR is building has whatever funding it needs? Or is that unknown until the construction bids come in?
I guess that one is being built and funded by the state, not by a private organization like Riverlife?
Holy Moley, Addy Smith-Reiman. that's a wow set of Google results. Platinum rider on the National Bike Challenge. awesome.
Welcome to Pittsburgh, a few months late, and thank you for your efforts and for joining the forum!
I hope that after this project, Pittsburgh has enough other interesting challenges to keep you around for a while. (hint: connecting Jail Trail and Saline Street, etc)
Hope to see you on a Flock Ride (aka Pittsburgh Bike Party)
Hello again! Thanks for your responses!
There have been some e-mails 'off line' curious to see the designs - and I would love to invite anyone who is interested for a lunch ride and design share.
I propose Tuesday, November 4th at 11:45A. Let's meet at Golden Triangle Bike Rental - they're closed - but it's a great/well marked location (the one by PNC). We'll bike up the trail to Grant Street, cross along the flyway and then look down at the Switchback location. We will then head to Siam's - a Thai restaurant located at 410 1st Ave. to review the designs. Rain or shine!
See you then!
Sorry, can't. Double conflict already.
I do suggest that the city's new bike-ped coordinator, Kristin Saunders, be personally invited.
I'm in. excellent.
Just a reminder that I am meeting up with some of you tomorrow, Tuesday, November 4th at 11:45A at Golden Triangle Bike Rental – (the one by PNC). We’ll bike up the trail to Grant Street, cross along the flyway and then look down at the Switchback location. We will then head to Siam’s – a Thai restaurant located at 410 1st Ave. to review the designs. It looks like it will be a gorgeous day tomorrow!
I have invited Kristin Saunders and she has agreed to come! See you tomorrow!
One hour from now.
This was a really cool session and mega-thanks to Addy for arranging it. We got a briefing at Golden Triangle Bikes, went over to Smithfield St Bridge for point-look-ask-tell, then to a local eatery for discussion and document sharing.
It was very cool to hear details of backstory, how we got to today, where the next actions are - and also to hear folks from DCNR and other agencies talk about what they're doing.
I really appreciate Abby's initiative. Also, what a bike she's riding - 1938 Raleigh Gazelle, all tricked out.
So, that's Addy in the pic?
(Also, I assume that's byogman. But for a moment I could swear that the guy on the left also had a kippah...)
Yes, that's Addy herself. And BYogman.
and you're right, there is a hint of a yarmulka on the other fellow,
but it's just mussed-up hair. Although he rocks it.
Man sounds like I should have shown up just to see that bike. Special.
I heard at a Steel Valley Trail Council meeting that the Smithfield Bridge / Mon Wharf switchback project is being taken over by the City, from Riverlife. Has anyone else heard more on this?
Greetings Bike PGH message board community!
Re: Is the Smithfield Bridge / Mon Wharf switchback project is being taken over by the City, from Riverlife?
Riverlife is working with the city to put the Mon Wharf Switchback out to bid. This was recommended to us by PennDOT as the switchback crosses a number of municipally owned parcels – and the city will eventually own the structure when it’s complete.
We have engaged CDR McGuire to act as Project Management for the city and liaise with PennDOT and Riverlife. SAI Engineering submitted final designs to PennDOT about two months ago – and we are now in the final stretch - working out details related to construction, staging, scheduling, etc.
We have our first city, CDR MGuire and Riverlife meeting next week – after which – a more detailed timeline will be shared. We will keep you posted! Thanks!
Glad to hear of the progress. Can't wait for this to be built. It's going to provide a very useful connection between the point, downtown, the southside, and the eliza furnace trail.
...along with a truly stupendous number of complaints about why our city tax money is being wasted on these bicyclists when we really just need our potholes fixed.
*wrong topic. Ignore earlier post*
So exciting! This is one of the big missing links in Pittsburgh's bike infrastructure.
Any update on Smithfield Street Bridge to Mon Wharf switchback ramp?
Ohh. A boy can hope!
Last October, Riverlife got a new Prez/CEO. Yesterday's BikePgh "Messenger" included:
"In October 2015 Vivien Li left her powerful position as the head of the Boston Harbor Association to become the CEO and president of the Riverlife in Pittsburgh. She is a fierce advocate for public riverfront space and has pledged to oversee the completion of the few missing links in Pittsburgh's river trail system."
That would include the switchback ramp.
I think it is a bit of anletdown since they solicited money from the public (I gave) and made it sound that it was imminent.
^ yep. Same here. We were under the impression that they were ready to build.
my understanding is they were, too, but then discovered something (I don't know what) that made them go literally back to the drawing board.
As I recall, the construction bids came out higher than their estimates, so they had to redo the design to make it cheaper to build.
I agree, the way they promoted their "finish the job" fundraising wasn't appropriate for the stage they were at, when the year of construction was still uncertain. But perhaps getting needed funding was contingent on getting a strong show of public support just then, and they thought they had no choice.
Last I saw, construction was slated to begin spring 2016. Has something changed?
That was my understanding too, @dfiler. If I recall correctlt, even the City was saying as much as recently as December (@ the Ft. Pitt Blvd cycle track meeting).
Given the relative complexity of the project, it is perhaps unsurprising that quotes for construction would be higher than anticipated.
It should be noted that the proposed switchback project is more or less the ideal solution to this area, as it allows you to avoid crossing over Smithfield St and does not intrude into the existing Mon Wharf space. However, if the goal is to simply connect the Mon Wharf to the GAP, there could be a compromise solution.
This solution would involve having a straight ramp from the other side of the bridge, similar to those on the south end of the Warhol bridge. This, I imagine, would be cheaper and less complex, but it would force trails users to cross over Smithfield St. and would intrude into the existing Mon Wharf area, given that it would be a somewhat long ramp.
At least initially, this seems more feasible than the proposed switchback, but maybe it isn't. I suppose the people at Riverlife would know better.
That makes it sound like the project is in jeopardy. Is there anything to indicate that?
The last reporting I saw was that the redesigned, leaner switchback structure was fully funded and construction was scheduled to start in spring 2016.
Unfortunately,I am also hearing the switchback will not start this year due to lack of funds.Let's hope maybe they will start in 2017
@dfiler I guess I wasn't clear, but I meant that the City said that the project was likely for 2016. No indication was given that it was in jeopardy.
However, I wonder if the recent announcement regarding the design and installation of a cycle track on Ft. Pitt Blvd (see here: http://localhost/mb/topic/public-meeting-downtown-bike-infrastructure-expansion-12142015/#post-324692
) was influenced by any developments (or lack thereof) on the switchback project. Again, this is just speculation on my part.
@cycleguy - where did you hear that? Last reporting I saw was that the structure was redesigned to be cheaper and it was fully funded.
I heard it from 2 other cyclists in my bicycle club,(Western Pa. Rails to Trails).One of the riders was talking to a couple engineers who will be working on the switchback.They stated that the cost will be more than the city originally projected and it won't get started until atleast 2017.I was very disappointed to also hear of this new!!
Not sure I buy it. For starters, it's not a City project, and from everything I've seen the City's involvement is minimal. It's Riverlife's project, and they're mainly dealing with the State DCNR, AFAIK...
Buf-Buffalo, I'm not sure b/c my info comes from the realm of scuttlebutt, which is perhaps as accurate as web comments. hah. I was under the impression that the city (read, Team Peduto) carved out a major chuck of cash to pay for this last year. It would be nice if Riverview provided an update. Hmm, twitter. I'll ask.
I was wrong about the City not being involved. But it apparently went out to bid last month:
Well, that means a 2017 start date, at the earliest. No way it will be built this year.
I did ask for an estimate of the start/end dates, and got back:
Given the Team Peduto affinity for transparent processes, I was hoping to find the bid document online but couldn't.
Even though Peduto is for this switchback project, Again I am hearing 2017, (and maybe even longer), because the city just doesn't have the funding.
I don't doubt that Peduto's got his mind in the right place. That's the one solid thing and if that goes, it's going to be sad.
I imagine that if too many more years pass, without a DC-Pgh cyclist getting killed using an alt-route, we'll have demonstrated that the switchback is gee-whiz optional and it'll fail to get funded in the face of other priorities. Also, pretty soon we're going to be in a Mayoral election and that can change a lot of priorities. (although I suppose, we're already in a Mayoral election season)
I mean, you can't get to MP-0 on the C&O without riding a few blocks of city streets from the trail to the marker, either.
We'll just have to see.
@cycleguy, it helps to say how you're hearing stuff. Remember, this is the Internet, and us being strangers it's hard to guess what's well informed and what's speculation. Was the info confirmed with someone who has direct involvement with the bidding and funding process? Or did the same friend just repeat what their understanding isn't meant as an argument. I'm honestly interested in what is known.
I see this as more important for city residents than GAP travelers. It provides a connection from the jail trail to the north shore without needing to ride downtown streets. With those trails being part of a larger network, even more places are now reachable without downtown riding. A trail around the perimeter of downtown allows access to most locations with minimized riding in traffic. Connecting the point to he GAP is a great publicity milestone, but nearly all of the switchback users will be locals.
Via Twitter from Riverlife:
Bid documents available here:
("log in as guest" first, then re-enter the url if necessary.)
It appears deadline for submitting bids is 04/07/2016.
Anticipated NTP*: 05/13/2016
Required Completion: 12/28/2016
* Notice To Proceed, I believe.
So, there's that....
@ dfiler....All I can tell you, from what I am hearing, NOT FROM THE INTERNET,but 2 reliable sources who were talking to the engineers(Macklin) bidding to do the work on this project,stating they will not be starting this year due to lack of city funds.Good chance they might be taking bids within the next month to see who finally gets the bid.It;s possible these engineers don't know what they're talking about either.Again,this is just what I am hearing. and am hoping this is all B.S. It would be great to see them actually start to do the work this year,but I wouldn't count on it.
Thanks, just trying to understand what info is available.
So we have an engineer that has said it isn't funded by the city of Pittsburgh.
The state's website indicates that the bidding process is underway. There are some interesting technical questions from a bidder that were asked and answered on that website in the past couple weeks.
Bidding is scheduled to end two weeks from today. Anticipated notice to proceed is 7 weeks and 1 day from today. Required completion date is a 12/28/16.
I can't claim to know if the ongoing bidding process is an indication of funding or not. My fingers are crossed that it is still on track.
Dear BikePGH community,
I wanted to provide you with an update on the Mon Wharf Switchback project.
As many of you may know, the Mon Wharf Switchback project for a connection from the Smithfield Street Bridge linking to Point State Park was put out to bid by PennDOT on behalf of the City of Pittsburgh on February 18, 2016.
Two bids were received on April 7, 2016. Much to everyone's disappointment, the bids were significantly higher than the construction estimate and the funds on hand.
Given the high bids, the City and PennDOT have declined to move forward with either bid. Riverlife, the City of Pittsburgh and various state entities are looking at further design and construction efficiencies to reduce the overall cost, and will attempt to raise additional support for the project. The goal is to rebid the project in 2016 and to have it constructed in 2017.
We will keep you informed as we continue to move forward with this project. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any additional questions. Thank you for your ongoing support.
Stephan Bontrager, Riverlife
Lame. Looks like I get to play frogger in traffic for a few more years. Disappointing.
That is too bad. Thanks for taking the time to update us Stephan. Bad news, but at least we know there is no chance of this happening anytime soon. Guess we keep cutting through the parking lot, hoping a sidewalk and crossing a pile of busy streets to get from the point to the Southside.
I'm glad,but also sad and disappointed, RiverlifePgh is hearing the same as I am.Apparently these engineers,(Macklin), doing the bidding knew what they were talking about when they said the funding is just too expensive and doesn't have the funding to construct the Switchback.Let's hope for 2017,but I wouldn't count on it.
Can I get a refund on my donation?
Yeah. That. Because, as we mentioned before, it sounded like a done deal
Could we get these people to build us a ramp?
This is a bummer, but considering the current proposal, it's not surprising that construction bids would be high.
That being said, I think there is a way to reduce costs here. The preferred location for the ramp is on the upstream sidewalk, so as to avoid having go across Smithfield St. This, to me, is a want, rather than a need, since the end goal is to connect the GAP to the Point. It is entirely plausible that the ramp could be located on the downstream sidewalk. This strikes me as an easier location to deal with, given what's already there and I think having it on that side would be cheaper. Yes, having to go across Smithfield would essentially replicate the current setup at the end of the Jail Trail and Grant St, which is annoying. But it is not a deal breaker.
I just hope they make it wide enough. I really don't want to have to dismount. If it's as wide as hot metal or ft. duquesne, that would be ideal, less so if it's as narrow as the bike/ped bridge from washington's landing to the trail. It's navigable by bike, but only barely and not when there are many concurrent users.
Like the Fort Pitt sidewalk, which does not scale at all. Another example of a sidewalk that's too narrow is the upstream 40th St Bridge. Two opposing cyclists meeting at speed run the risk of skinning a right elbow. Whatever width either of those is, add at least three feet.
Agree with Crishent. It seems like using the existing, very wide sidewalk, would be the best bet for cost reduction, with some sort light control that stops traffic in all directions to cross Smithfield and ft pitt blvd. This is part of my morning commute and the only sketchy part is hoping those trying to turn see/care that someone is trying to use the cross walks. Once I'm on Ft Pitt blvd, it's fine other than the delivery trucks, etc that sit in the right lane and make me play dodgem. All that could be avoided by having the trail/sidewalk on that side and coordinated with the lights. Getting into the point is easy enough by cutting through that little parking lot, but even that could use the sidewalks and a lighting system to avoid being onroad. Does it mean you'd have to wait at lights sometimes? Yes, but it wouldn't be a bad alternative if the switchback project never gets out of the planning stages.
For those who donated to the Switchback project via Indiegogo, Riverlife staff members are in the process of reaching out to each contributor. While we hope donors will continue to support the project, we understand if some people would like a refund.
If you don't hear from us within the next week and would like to discuss your donation, please contact me directly at email@example.com
and I'll connect you to a member of our development department.
Do these newly announced Fort Pitt Blvd Bike lanes from Grant street to the point now make the Switchback superfluous? i.e., is this the death knell for the switchback?
The Mon Wharf switchback is still moving forward and is expected to be re-bid for construction in October, with a construction contract awarded in December if an acceptable bid comes in at or under budget. The switchback and Fort Pitt bike lane will complement each other and enhance the overall bike/ped network Downtown. The switchback offer riders the riverfront scenic route while the Ft. Pitt lanes offer the business district street-level experience (also a detour for when the Mon Wharf floods). We're excited that both options will exist for GAP riders and all other users.
Thanks for your post -
Stephan @ Riverlife
thanks for the update
I too considered that when seeing that another route has been funded. My take is that both are needed in order to build a bike route network.
From a recreational standpoint, the switchbacks will make it viable for casual trail users to get between the river front trail system and the point. For many of these people, a route through downtown, even if physically protected, is not suitable. The city needs just a few more of these expensive connector projects and there will be a world class riverfront trail network. It will be one of Pittsburgh's defining features and selling points. This cannot be stressed enough.
From a commuting or purely transportation perspective, the fort pitt blvd to standwix to penn ave is also vital. It will drastically reduce the distance of travel, mixed in with automotive traffic, to much of downtown.
I'd go further and say that even more streets need bike lanes. A partial network is nearly useless in comparison to a complete network. Partial networks mostly just benefit bike advocates and enthusiasts. We're willing to deal with traffic. But a complete network makes biking viable for the masses.
good points. i think that most people not only don't recognize the value and uniqueness of what we have with our trial system, but don't even know it's there.
Thanks for the update Stephan.
Also very glad to see that Mon Warf Flooding has been taken into consideration with Ft. Pitt lanes.
Thanks for the update Stephan.
Also very glad to see that Mon Warf Flooding has been taken into consideration with Ft. Pitt lanes.
kind of a remarkably positive series of comments in the P-G.
Reluctant to say anything lest I disturb the Force.
Dear BikePGH community,
Riverlife is very pleased to announce that as of yesterday, February 1, the City of Pittsburgh awarded the bid for construction of the switchback! The next step now is to determine a date for the contractor's notice to proceed/groundbreaking. We look forward to announcing the groundbreaking date publicly in the near future and celebrating the start of this long-anticipated project.
Stephan Bontrager, Riverlife Communications Director
Trail update: Mon Wharf Switchback construction awarded
Riverlife is very pleased to announce that as of February 1 the City of Pittsburgh awarded the bid for construction of the Mon Wharf switchback, a bicycle and pedestrian ramp that will connect the Smithfield Street Bridge to the Mon Wharf Landing. Riverlife has served in a leadership role in planning and fundraising for the project.
Plans for spring construction mobilization are underway. The next step is to determine a date for the contractor’s notice to proceed and groundbreaking.
We look forward to announcing the groundbreaking date publicly in the near future and celebrating the start of this long-anticipated project!
I also "heard" this Spring,construction is to begin.I don't want to be a pessimist,but I also have my doubts because this project was to begin a number of years ago and every year an excuse,(most times lack of funds) reasons why construction won't start.Spring is only a few weeks away and we'll see if the construction starts.I'll be happy if work even begins sometime this year. Just curious, but does anyone have an idea when this switchback will be complete?? Even if construction begins this spring,I would assume the switchback won't be finished until 2018.
@cycleguy, the holdups before were that the estimates that came back were overbudget. This happened at least one, maybe twice, maybe more. They had to rework the project to make it less expensive.
The process worked -- they have a budget, they have a proposal, they sent it out to bid and they found a company willing to build it within the budget. So all is good, this will be built. They're waiting to break ground.
@ edroline.......Again,i will believe it when I see it.I'm not a pessimist by nature(in fact I'm an upbeat,optimist person),but I've just seen too many times in years past that they were definitely going to start construction and a monkey wrench was thrown in.Hopefully your right,but I am still going to take a wait and see attitude so I won't be too disappointed like so many times in the past.I want to be wrong and see the construction start this spring!!
Is there any news about DCNR's plan to build a wider trail from the Mon Wharf around the pier of the Fort Pitt Bridge to Point State Park? The current trail is wide enough for only one cyclist at a time.
Welp, Riverlife just sent this out in an email:
Mon Wharf Switchback site prepared for construction
A long time coming, the Mon Wharf Switchback ramp project is moving forward in a big way. Last week the eastern end of the Mon Wharf was prepared for construction to begin on the ramp. The switchback is a riverfront access project of Riverlife in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh.
Envisioned over eight years ago, the Switchback will fill an important gap in Pittsburgh’s riverfront trail system. The completed project will connect the Great Allegheny Passage to the Mon Wharf Landing via the historic Smithfield Street Bridge, taking cyclists and pedestrians seamlessly into Point State Park along a scenic riverfront route.
Check out more photos here, and we can't wait to share updates with you as this exciting project advances this spring and summer!
Genuinely excited to see this happen because I'd be using this DAILY, (both directions) to bypass the streets Downtown.
I wonder when it'll be finished...
I wonder when it’ll be finished…
When do you expect to retire, or to no longer need to use it on a daily basis?
Add six months.
Here's the link to the photos
, for the lazy.
Not to be a spoil sport, but it seems that the switchback dumps off onto a narrow sidewalk, then goes a few feet, then onto another sidewalk along whatever that road is. That's a potential bottleneck/people riding up the switch back ending up off the curb into the street, etc. etc. too bad the top couldn't be wider.
now I really need to stop whining, because we're getting an honest to goodness connection to point state park.
Any word on the point state park connector? Specifically I'm referring to http://riverlifepgh.org/riverfront-guide/point-state-park-connector/
The Riverlife info on the switchback ramp says "The Switchback will be fully illuminated for use after dark." I'm more interested in what it will be like in 5 years than what it will look like on the day of the ribbon-cutting. A disappointment with the Mon Wharf is that it hasn't aged well and hasn't been maintained: the bluestone has eroded faster than the concrete, creating a cycling hazard for those with narrow tires, and the lights got smashed out years ago and were never fixed: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/muddy-mon-wharf-trail-out-of-sight-out-of-mind-630670/
Edronline, that sidewalk is wider than a normal sidewalk. It has always seemed luxuriously wide when I've ridden it; wide enough for two way bike traffic even with wide mtb handlebars. Hopefully it feels the same for you.
As for trail surface of the mon warf? I'm ok with that too. I'd prefer not spending tons of money making a trail system catering to ultra skinny tires. With the winter climate generating potholes, brick streets and gravel trails, it's an unrealistic expectation. That's like expecting all our roads to be smooth enough for a low clearance Lamborghini or F1 race cars. Road bikes are the equivalent of an F1 car. They're great as long as you have perfectly smooth pavement. Thankfully the bike industry has provided us with better options than the old-school, traditional road bike. Slightly wider tires are waaaay better suited for the vast majority of people. That extra few percent performance isn't worth the trade-off of needing to pamper the bike with perfect conditions. Cross, gravel, touring, hybrid, mountain... all better options for city riding.
Wait. I'm obviously missng something. I thought the mon wharf was just parking right now. You can get to it? And if so, how can you get there from the point st park side? It looks like it is blocked by the park parking lot...
@edronline: yes, you could get to Mon Wharf from Smithfield Bridge following the directions shown in the video below (begin @25:37)
I don't have a video, a maritime chorus, or animated graphics like Gordon's cool video, but I do have a map. The key landmarks: from Fort Pitt Blvd & Wood St, take Mon Wharf Parking ramp down, follow Mon downstream, pass under Fort Pitt Bridge, emerge magically into Point State Park.
There are also staircases down to the Mon wharf at the end of Wood St. and at the end of Stanwix, which are sort of on a median between the Fort Pitt Blvd. lanes but have pedestrian signals to access.
Once this switchback is complete I think it is going to be very heavily used immediately, and maybe that means maintenance on the Mon Wharf trail will be prioritized. That trail is probably being relatively ignored now because it is so hard to get to and basically goes nowhere, so it is barely used.
I'll bet there will be bike traffic jams around a chokepoint seen at 28:40 in Gordon's video.
The Point State Park connector should bypass that chokepoint, going out over the river to reach the park. They've said in the past that it would be built at the same time as the Mon Wharf Switchback, so both the east and west ends of the wharf would have good connections. I haven't heard anything recently though.
Hopefully they'll build it with materials that can stand up well to the periodic flooding it'll presumably get.
To answer edronline's question, yeah there is already a trail on the mon-warf, not just parking. It was designed to mostly just need hosing off after debris is deposited during the regular flooding.
Previously I read that the plan was to complete the point park connector at the same time as the switchback ramp. Hopefully that is still the case. The proposal/plan I saw involved a floating section of trail to get around the duquesne bridge pylons. That would be keep it near the river rather than routing up and around as depicted by the red line on Paul's map. In the picture above, you can see that there isn't much land to work with under the bridge. A floating section of trail would work well although I don't know if it made the final plan or budget.
Here's the narrow section of the 'point state park connector' trail between the wharf and the point on google street view. It would be tough to get two bikes on it going different directions to pass safely and easily without slowing down or stopping.
You can see it on the left hand side of the roadway which passes under ramps to/from the ft. pitt bridge.
It's also much steeper than it looks in the picture. That belgian block slope is around 45 degrees.
Even tougher is that one of the ramp/bridge piers is directly in the way. PennDOT probably wouldn't appreciate messing with the dirt around a bridge foundation.
A floating trail wouldn't be terribly difficult though. It would be nearly identical to floating docks used at any marina, just with railings on the side.
At 45 degree sloped and, per someone else's post, slippy, are we talking about "novice riders sliding into the Mon" currently?
The 45 degree belgian block slope isn't part of the trail. It's the impassible section between the west end of the trail and point state park. If I recall correctly, it is also blocked by chainlink fencing.
The mon warf trail/park itself is beautifully paved with large cut slabs of stones and lined with stone benches and trees. It is nearly flat with perhaps a 3 degree slope toward the river to make sure there isn't standing water.
Riverlifepgh.org has a few pictures:
According to the post gazette (I can't link to article because of pay wall) the switch back will be done late 2017 or 2018 and the connector part is undergoing final design with no estimate given for completion date.
Well, even if the connector is not done, access is still there. I'm sure it will crank up the pressure to get it done to avoid user conflicts. Heck, maybe they will still be able to have continuous access while building the new connector since it may have an alternate route. No good guesses on that though.
FWIW, the artist's rendering of the Point State Park Connector at the top of this page
seems to show a path climbing up over the top of the sloped Belgian block area, not out over the water. Direct link to the image
. A design away from the water would probably need much less maintenance than something in the water. (Marinas seem to get smashed up on a pretty regular basis.)
The pg article says that the $$$ is there for the connector. BTW
Of course, the $$$ was there for the switchback ramp too, until they finished the design, sent the construction project out to bid, and discovered the lowest bid was $$$$$$$ and the money that was there was only $$$. I think this is the third try for the switchback ramp, and at last they've got a design that matches the amount of money they have. The connector project is still on round one.
I'm just hoping that there is access this way, even if it's stupid and narrow for now.
Then I'm hoping that when they build the new point to mon wharf connector that they can keep the existing path open for traffic during construction.
it would be pretty useless to build the switchback and then not be able to go anywhere...
I've been through the pinch point at the location of the proposed connector, and I don't remember it being terribly more arduous than the Greenfield/Second Ave "cattle chute", which persists, despite much hand wringing.
Yes, right now that pinch point is not too bad, but that's due in large part to the fact that there is not much traffic through it. Once the switchback is completed, traffic through that area will increase significantly, and will likely be higher than any traffic you see in the Second Ave chute. There will definitely be a demand for the Point Connector.
Especially with a decent number of the riders riding full loaded with trailers, saddle bags, etc.
The cattle chute is flat, mostly straight, and not very long. The existing connector has a climbing section (so expect some cyclists descending fast) and various turns.
Fortunately, I think it's sufficiently hard to find the start of the current connector when going eastbound that many cyclists from out of town will wind up taking the streets instead.
Work is coming along...
Rusty Red, thanks for posting this photo of switchback construction on a sunny day! Do you mind if we add it to our Riverlife web gallery of construction photos (credited to you, of course)?
Stephan @ Riverlife
My source from The Point tells me that drawings for the Wharf-Park connections (which is PA state project) are 95% complete, but will need review by engineers, City, PennDOT, ... since it impacts them...before construction will start...my guess is next year well have all this done
On an unrelated, but similar note, my source in the City tell me the Greenfield Bridge should be finished in August.
@Stephan @ Riverlife: Sure, please do!
-RustyRed (AKA Colleen Marsala)
I was on the Smithfield Street Bridge on Tuesday and took this photo of the progress. They are moving along and have some concrete bases down for the structure. I can't get the image to appear in my post for some reason:
What's the newest status of the switchback?
It looks like work was done to build foundations for the ramp, and then all work at the site appears to have stopped, based on my hasty observations.
Current status looking from the bridge on 8/28/17
Dumb question, but what am I seeing in this photo? I think it looks like the roadway per usual and some work done on the river bank, but no switchback, right?
Looks to be the first part of the ramp being poured in concrete, which will likely be connected to the rest of the suspended ramp structure which will be supported by columns (which the foundations for appear already poured, the blocks in the ground on the right of the bridge in the image posted on 7/13 by @alleghenian).
See the title pic in the article for an idea of the final layout, you can see the ramp starting on the left side of the bridge and extending to the right side before the switch back. http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/07/27/Mon-Wharf-connector-to-aid-bikers-pedestrians/stories/201507270003
Thanks, @benzo. I missed that concrete triangle when I first looked at the picture.
Looks rampish to me when I went by 8/29:
In a related note, the design of the segment into Point State Park and final approvals is in final phases of engineering approvals, etc. "99%"
That article satys that the connector between the mon warf trail and the park will 1.8 million dollars! That's a lot of dollars per foot of trail!
A friend posted to facebook photos of completed pier foundations on the upriver side of the bridge. That is good news for progress on the switchback ramp. Foundations always seem to take forever. Once construction is above ground, it tends to go much quicker. I can't wait to ride from the jail trail to point state park when these two missing links are completed. Hopefully the park connector doesn't take long.
The dollar amount sounds bad if you think of it as a small bridge or ramp that just connects the Mon Wharf to Point State Park, but if you consider that it connects the GAP to everything near trails northeast and northwest of downtown--Northside, Strip, Lawrenceville, Millvale, and up the Allegheny as that trail gets extended, maybe an Ohio River connection from downtown to the Montour Trail--then it makes sense. I'll bet the trail bridge connecting Millvale to the Northside trail had a similar price tag.
$2.8 million in 2010.
Looks like the switchback is $3.2 million. So about the same, as you predicted.
The southern beltway is much, much more than this. :)
The supports were being put up this morning!
Is this ramp to aid in the transition from the Mon Wharf to the Jail Trail? Is it going to pass over the Parkway?
Yes, the new switchback ramp will connect from the Mon Wharf to the upstream sidewalk on the Smithfield Street bridge. Right next to that spot on the bridge sidewalk where it connects, there's already a bike/ped connector that takes you to the Jail Trail.
The existing Smithfield Street bridge sidewalk is the part that goes over the Parkway (outbound lanes only). I don't think the new ramp will be directly over any part of the Parkway when it connects to the bridge, but it'll be pretty close.
The Switchback page has an artist's rendering of what it will look like when finished:
Just got this email from the City:
PARKWAY EAST OUTBOUND OVERNIGHT LANE RESTRICTIONS BEGIN TONIGHT
PITTSBURGH, PA (November 28, 2017) - The City of Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) has announced overnight lane restrictions for one eastbound lane of I-376 East (Parkway East) in the next week.
One outbound lane of the Parkway East will be closed to all traffic from the Fort Pitt Bridge to the Grant Street exit ramp. The overnight closures will take place on the following dates:
Tuesday, Nov. 28 from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29
Thursday, Nov. 30 from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. Friday, Dec. 1
Monday, Dec. 4 from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5
The lane closures are necessary to allow for the steel delivery for the Mon Wharf pedestrian ramp.
A detour is not necessary for the overnight closures.
Questions should be directed to Chuck McClain, Project Manager of the Bridges and Structures Division, at 412-255-2034.
The first big hunk of steel has arrived:
Steel has been installed in the switchback portion of the ramp. Progress!
It's starting to look like a switchback ramp.
I sent the following letter to Vivien Li (Riverlife), Kristin Saunders (Pittsburgh Planning bike/ped), and Karina Ricks (Pittsburgh Planning mobility/infrastructure). Thoughts?
I’m a cyclist, and for years I’ve found it frustrating at the west end of the Mon Wharf path that there is no curb cut to help cyclists connect to the Point. See picture. The tracks in the sand show that cyclists travel here. For most cyclists, along with those with baby strollers, bicycle trailers (for bike-touring the GAP), or wheelchairs, the absence of a curb cut here is an annoyance, and has been since the Mon Wharf path was built.
It looks like the Smithfield Bridge switchback might be open within a few months, which will boost bike and pedestrian traffic to the wharf significantly, so we’ll have large numbers of cyclists hitting this curb soon.
Could a curb cut please be added here, ASAP?
Work continues...noticed last evening...There was another section added up to the Smithfield Street Bridge...
@paulheckbert I agree, that area at the end of the wharf trail is a disaster and as soon as they open up this switchback ramp there are going to be a ton of people using it to get to Point State Park. Hopefully they will at least do a short-term fix before the switchback opens, because there is always mud/sand all over the place from the latest wharf flood, and the road surface down there is really bad. Sometimes there is an unavoidable mud pit at the bottom of the ramp that goes up to the park from the wharf.
When is the ramp going to open?
"When is the ramp going to open?"
I imagine not long after it's finished being built. Try checking back at RiverLife's site for updates.
At any rate, here's today's progress:
ramp construction is coming along!
ride it when no one is looking!
Any update on how construction is affected by recent flooding?
The switchback ramp doubles as a boat launch, when conditions are right:
according to those footprints, someone has been using it
I’m not sure what species of critter made those tracks but I don’t think it was Homo sapiens.
The Mon is still less than a foot below flood level so the warf parking is closed today. Though cleanup can begin at least. As usual, there's up to a half foot of mud in some spots.
My assumption is that warf needs to be accessible for construction to proceed. A bridge lane might be closed for concrete trucks on pour days. But it seems likely that the warf is needed for material and equipment staging.
With that in mind, i hope the warf doesn't flood again so that the ramp can get finished asap.
In addition to the wharf being safe from flooding, they mentioned that they need some number of days (10-ish??) with temperatures warmer than something (40-50ish?) in order for the concrete to cure properly.
Ahhh, that makes sense. So pouring could have to wait a month or more it would seem. There are still freezing nights for a while.
But hopefully the formwork and rebar can begin soon. Yeah, i'm a bit impatient. ;)
Rumor heard third hand so take it w a huge grain of salt.
FOTR ran out of money for the rest of the switch back project so that is why there has been zero construction.
Again, it is a wild rumor. No verification. The weather and flooding could certainly explain the stop in progress. But I wanted to at least throw this out there and see if anyone has the real 411.
Hi everyone, Switchback update here from Riverlife, the organization leading the project in conjunction with the City. I wanted to confirm what has been mentioned by others in this thread previously: Construction of the ramp was seasonally shut down over the winter, as is typical for outdoor riverfront projects like this. The contractor requires several weeks of consistent mild weather (40-50 degrees) for the ramp's concrete to be poured and cure in place. As we all know, that type of forecast can be very unpredictable in Pittsburgh at this time of year! Thank you for your patience as we wait for the weather to comply so that progress can continue at the site.
Stephan @ Riverlife
Perhaps your source confused Riverlife, who is actually managing the project, with Friends of the Riverfront, who are unfortunately working through some internal issues?
Riverlife wouldn't have been allowed to go to construction without funds in hand to cover the bid cost, and we haven't heard anything about massive overruns that would be required to put them in a position of stopping work. Nor have they engaged in any additional fundraising to cover the hypothetical overrun.
This is comforting. Thanks.
Thanks to Stephan @RiverlifePGH for sharing about the plan. Totally understandable the weather needs to cooperate so the concrete cures properly. FWIW, I drove by the ramp on Monday April 2 and saw a construction worker installing rebar. So it seems they are preparing to pour concrete as soon as the weather allows. Let's hope it's sooner than later.
It looks like workers were placing reinforcing bar today.
They started pouring concrete on the ramp several days ago. See photos.
A few days ago I re-shared the photo of the nasty bike-hostile curb at the west end of the Mon Wharf on Riverlife's facebook page (see http://localhost/message-board/topic/mon-wharf-switchback-update-from-riverlife/page/4/#post-348855
), and I got a reply from Stephan Bontrager of Riverlife: "We’ve been aware of this problem and have advocated for a solution with the stakeholders/property owners."
Good grief. It doesn't require a full-up reconstructed curb cut with new cement and all the trimmings, especially since the eventual better connector to Point Park will require modifications anyhow. Twenty bucks' worth of Sakrete or other ready-to-use cold patch applied at some point along the curb could covert the curb to a ramp. Think about how where the Southside trail enters the Marina where 18th St crosses the tracks -- someone laid down some asphalt to even out the bump.
I'll bet that no one would notice if it just happened some day.
Under the blanket is curing concrete, I believe. Hmmm, slip 'n' slide?
Nice! It looks like all the concrete pouring is done. Did you see any spots left unfinished?
Next they’ll need to strip the forms, seal the concrete and install railings. Is lighting planned? That could add some time to the schedule as well.
I might be just a little eager to go ride this ramp. ;)
Not to be an asshat since we're getting a nice, needed ramp, but how wide is it? Looks a little narrowish especially if bike has panniers and there are people going the other direction.
Note that the switchback is very early on the mainline route from Pittsburgh (where the ceremonial endpoint is the plaque at the Point) to DC. That means that a lot of people with scant experience riding a fully-loaded touring bike will be making climbing turns with full panniers and/or trailers.
I think the ramp is great. Of all the things to complain about in terms of bike and pedestrian infrastructure around the city, the width of this ramp is pretty trivial. That it exists at all is an amazing accomplishment.
For one thing, inexperienced riders with fully loaded touring bikes will probably make up less than 0.01% of the people using this ramp. I'm ok with it maybe being difficult for them and that they might have to put a foot down.
Saw on Riverlife's facebook page today that the concrete deck is fully installed, and they are going to let it cure for two weeks before doing the next step, which is putting up the railings.
I walked past this the other day and it looks at least as wide as the Mon Wharf trail and the sidewalk along Fort Pitt Blvd that connects over to Grant Street. I don't see any point in making it much wider than the trails. The u-turn would be tough with a trailer, but so would the turns up onto the Smithfield Street Bridge. Plus with only one turn, it will be easier than the switchbacks on the Hot Metal Bridge or the Fort Duquesne Bridge.
West end of Mon Wharf still has problems: bad curb, dried mud, six-inch-wide channels across the path.
I assume Paul also sent these to 311, possible with the MyBurgh app.
Who lives in this Council District?
This is the sort of thing your Councilcritter can help with. Call, write, or stop by the office. Mention the benefits to the district of bicycle traffic in general and bicycle tourists in particular. Describe the situation and the safety issues. Ask for two things:
1) An interim solution to the lack of a curb cut, for example by sending an asphalt truck down to fill in a little ramp from the curb to the parking lot (like the one at 18th St). This could even be done while they're patching potholes on the Wharf. This will, of course, be replaced with a better solution when they build the better connection to Point Park, but an asphalt fill will hold us in the interim.
2) Add the trail to the parts of the Wharf that get cleaned up after a flood. We know they get down there to clear off the parking area, they should clean off the trail as well.
No amount of discussion here does nearly as much to solve the problem as repeat reminders to whoever in the City will listen.
While we're complaining, let's not forget our favorite concrete pillar
OK, I filed a 311 at http://pittsburghpa.gov/innovation-performance/311.html
, id 245798:
request type: Handicap Ramp, Request for Installation
The west end of the Mon Wharf path has 3 problems, 2 long-term and 1 short term: (1) No curb cut as shown in first picture. Tracks in the mud show where past cyclists have traveled. This is bad for wheelchairs, strollers, inline skaters, and cyclists. This problem has existed since the Mon Wharf path was built in 2009. (2) Drainage channels about 6 inches wide that used to have covers of some type several years ago are now open channels that someone could get injured by (twist an ankle or even break a leg). See second picture. (3) Short term: there's dried mud all over the path. These problems are important because this path is part of the Great Allegheny Passage trail, which brings thousands of tourists to Pittsburgh every year, and because this route will get MUCH more traffic than it has in the past after the Mon Wharf switchback ramp opens in a few weeks(?).
This WESA radio article about the Mon Wharf switchback ramp announces "Almost Ready To Roll: Missing Link In GAP Trail Downtown Nearing Completion".
Huh? What about DCNR's missing link?
it says that they're expecting an "August or september" inauguration. I guess that means that in reality it isn't "almost" ready to open...
Railings are being installed as of this morning!
Dumb question,but is that the final decking they are walking on? It looks like it. If so, maybe they'll open it once all the railing are up? Wonder what else they need to do?
A “soft open” would be quite helpful.
After the handrails are installed, they'll still have to put up lighting and other finishing features. The target opening date in August will be here in no time.
So much should have been an on-street protected bike lane. Now we have an expensive band-aid that directs cyclists to a route that closes during flooding, takes travelers away from downtown businesses, and forfeits street space to an auto-centric mentality. Sad.
Re on-street lane: whatever did happen to the Ft Blvd - Stanwix lanes? There was a big public meeting with design, one grumpy adjacent business ... then ... nothing.
They got shelved due to public backlash. There was an article about it maybe a year ago?
What's a soft open?
Last year's article on the Fort Pitt bike lane plans being scrapped: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2017/05/01/Fort-Pitt-Boulevard-bike-lane-plan-dropped-Pittsburgh/stories/201705010131
I currently use Ft Pitt as my connector from the Jail Trail to PSP on my inbound commute and will continue to do so when the Mon Wharf is flooded or the switchback goes untreated in the winter.
Rusty, I know, I followed that whole thing. “What we’re doing is taking a step back...". She nailed that.
I don't look at this as an either/or situation in regard to the mon warf switchback and bike lanes downtown. Thus I look don't at the completion of this ramp with any bitterness. The way I look at it is the more infrastructure built the more pressure is put on the remaining missing links. The mon warf switchback and connector are a massive missing link for the riverfront trail system.
Sometimes I think us advocates can get so close to the topic that we forget to step back and enjoy progress, even if slower than desired. In this thread we should be celebrating a watershed moment for biking in Pittsburgh rather than fixating on a different, failed bike lane project.
When both the ramp and connector to PSP are complete, it will help motivate additional bike infrastructure. We will have great river front trails encircling downtown but cyclists have no way to get into downtown. A more complete system means more riders putting pressure to gain access throughout the golden triangle.
So close. Looking forward to this quite a bit!
Damn, it looks so nice.
Two weeks ago, I rode to the bottom part of the switchback. I can't attach the picture, but there was a large chunk of the wharf that was missing, right before the entrance to the ramp. I wonder if that has been refilled...
Some people can't wait.
I have a feeling that it's not going to be an August opening at this point. I'm hoping soon.
The Mon Wharf Switchback is getting there. I tried to post pics that Riverlfife took yesterday, but this site kept telling me there was an error. Tried 3 times. Here is the link to the page- http://riverlifepgh.org/riverfront-guide/mon-wharf-switchback/
I didn't realize it before, but it looks like from the photo captions, they are adding a kayak launch near the bottom of the new switchback ramps! Great to see more water access as well!
Does anyone know why the mon wharf switchback has been taking so long to complete? What is the expected opening before the snow falls?
These projects take a long time. It looks deceptively simply to build a ramp. It's a lot of work. I'm sure it'll be done before snow falls
Did anyone get a photo of the project during the high water yesterday? At 27 feet, a good bit of the lower structure and of course the entire wharf would be underwater.
I hope the project isn’t going to be delayed by the storm.
I've been wondering that as well.
I'm sure it'll set it back the few days if the rain/flooding stopped work on it. But it was engineered to withstand occasional floods, I'm sure, so I don't think this is a major setback.
I rode by to check out the ramp again today. The water has receded and there doesn't appear to be any damage. There is a couple inches of mud covering the surface of the lowest portion but that's not concerning. It's routine to spray off the riverfront sidewalks after flooding. It looks like the site was prepped beforehand, with material, gear and a portajohn moved to higher ground part way up the lower ramp.
Hopefully the saturated ground won't delay finishing of the warf where the ramp lands. It's hard to confirm when covered by a layer of mud but i don't think the warf paving stones stretched that far up river. There is probably some paving left to do. Handrails are still yet to be installed.
Well, doesn't look like it's opening in September. I rode by last night and it seemed relatively complete with the exception of handrails being installed. Hopefully, the flooding will hold off and they can finish this up soon!
Is the mon wharf switchback open yet?
Soooo, looking ahead to when this opens, who's going to clear the snow off the ramp?
Or you could contact the council person's office for downtown about that and maybe get them to plan for it.
Vegas bookies project opening in 2020, based on state getting the Connector built.
They cut the railing on the bridge end of the ramp! There was a guy installing lugs for bollards or a gate or something in the opening. Looks like all the railings on the ramp are done. Won't be long now!
I saw them too, asked if they had the inside scoop on when it'll be open, but they said they didn't know.
Hoopla open or soft open?
Not sure, the worker I asked didn't seem very interested in chatting. I'll definitely be riding by after work to see what progress they made today.
I emailed. The response:
Eric, thanks for your email. We're all very eager to get this project open as soon as possible, but we do not have an estimated completion date yet. We are still waiting for a component to be manufactured and installed. As soon as we have a date, we will post it on our website and social media. Thanks for your patience.
There's a lot talk/speculation about the Mon Wharf Ramp .. when it will open, etc... which appears imminent... indeed, it has appeared imminent for a long time :-) ...
In any event, in case you weren't aware of it, the trail along the Wharf is a mess. I'm not just talking about mud and the need for a good sweeping when the Ramp is open, but structural issues; like worn out grouting, large gaps where there were, I think, small drainage grates or expansion joints, ... and the need for a curb cutout on the State Park end, etc.
If these aren't addressed, I figure the opening will be plagued with discomfort and criticism...
[And then there is the question of the status of the State Park entry. What? When? Will that entrance be closed during construction? These questions will surely come up once the Ramp is opened. (There was even a rumor? that the ramp wouldn't open until the State Park end was complete...and that's why the Ramp is taking so long...it is purposefully being dragged out..)...]
Grant Street Crossing
The Grant and Eliza Trail crossing button is located very inconveniently...I've crossed there often and recently was the first time I noticed it. It's bad enough for pedestrians...but as one needs to traverse cobblestones, it is quite treacherous for cyclists...
And I won't startup about the trail markings and signs/poles across Grant from there...where the trail is shown to coincide with the traffic signs...oh there I go... :-| ....
... Am I making any sense? If so, can this be corrected and who do we contact?
[Don't get me wrong, I greatly appreciate all the work being done along the trails.]
Thanks for listening
Thanks for your email.
The Mon Wharf Switchback is nearly complete and we want to get it open as soon as possible. The rumor that we're waiting to open it until the Point State Park Connector is built is a real head scratcher. Our objective is to get the switchback open for pedestrians/cyclists as soon as we can - it wouldn't make sense to build it and then have it sit there, unused, for a lengthy period while the other end's connection is built. We want people to be able to access the Mon Wharf via the ramp as soon as it is safe to do so, even if the improved connection into Point State Park on the other end isn't complete (with signage marking trail detours and ADA routes planned during construction on that end). As for the PSP connection, that project is being managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The park rangers should have the most up-to-date information about their timeline for that project.
As Riverlife has reported before, the Switchback is almost complete but we are waiting on a small but critical component to be fabricated and installed. This component attaches the ramp to the Smithfield Street Bridge. The fabricator and contractor have varied in estimating the fabrication and installation timeline, which is why we have not had any specific dates to share thus far. We are cautiously optimistic that it could be any day now.
We are aware of the numerous issues with the Mon Wharf Landing trail and are hoping they will be addressed in between the flood cycles. We have had maintenance conversations with the two main site stakeholders DPW and the Parking Authority, and the Parking Authority has pledged to replace the drainage covers that floated away leaving the ruts across the trail. The Parking Authority has also come up with a solution for the curb/drainage channel on the Point State Park end, which they assured me will be implemented soon.
Regarding Grant Street Crossing, the crossing signal is located where it is to tie into the existing electrical pole/infrastructure. We had a minimal budget for this project and I'm sure you can imagine how costly it would have been to dig up/extend the electrical to get it two feet closer to the entrance to the crosswalk. The placement is not ideal, but we had to work with the site conditions. As for the green markers, when you refer to "corrections" what do you mean? PennDOT would not allow us to move their red "Do Not Enter" signs or other highway signage, so we had to design a solution that marked the trail and worked around the existing auto signage. From many trail user accounts, the green signs and poles have made the entrance to the bike/ped flyway much more visible. You can see before and after photos here: http://riverlifepgh.org/
With all these improvements, we have to have patience. We are a small nonprofit working on other people's property, with slim budgets and minimal site control. I appreciate the patience of the trail community and their excitement and enthusiasm for the improvements. Here at Riverlife we cannot WAIT to get the switchback open after having raised funding, permitted, designed and constructed it over almost a decade. It has been a challenging project but well worth it, and I'm hoping we can celebrate this new public connection together very soon.
Can we use baling wire and duct tape to make a temporary installation of the "small but critical part"?
Of course. All problems can be temporarily fixed with duct tape.
Some years ago I took a Greyhound bus to Latrobe. We pulled out of the Greyhound terminal in downtown Pittsburgh 30 minutes late, with the driver griping loudly that the bus hadn't been prepped by maintenance so he had to clean it himself.
A loud banging from the back started once we got on the highway. The driver pulled over, got out, and after a while reported that the engine cover on the back of the bus wasn't latching, but he had applied duct tape to secure it temporarily.
Ten minutes later, the banging resumed. The driver pulled over again and applied more tape. This continued every ten minutes until I got off in Latrobe, with the bus by that point 70 minutes behind schedule. The driver said he'd be able to switch to a different bus once he reached Philadelphia. I wonder now if he had enough duct tape to make it.
My Grumman canoe has seen a lot of whitewater, and there are leaks around some of the rivets in the hull. Every year or two we put fresh duct tape on these spots and we're good to go for a while.
I went by the switchback this morning and noticed that the LED lights were on. So at least that's working...
- What do you think is taking so long???
I heard a rumor it’s going to be this afternoon. So excited
I went on a rampage!
Has ANYONE called the Mon Wharf "inviting" before?
From the PG story on this:
"That trip will be even easier in the future when the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources finishes a planned $1.8 million upgrde to the connection with the park. That project, which will improve a narrow, secluded path between the park on the wharf, could begin construction in 2019."
This sounds real, but I haven't heard anything else on it. Have you?
People have been asking how to get from Point State Park to the Smithfield Bridge switchback ramp and vice versa. Here's how, via the Mon Wharf Wormhole
From the bottom of the Smithfield switchback ramp, continue along the river on the bike/ped esplanade. You will have to shift over into the parking lot at some point. The best place is after the boat ramp (marked by white stakes in the water) and before the empty bridge pier. There's a set of metal bollards and no curb not too far before you get to the bridge pier. Beyond here, there is a curb with no curb cut and there are several hazardous open trenches (Parking Authority is said to be working on this). Continue to the end of the parking lot. There is an unpromising walkway next to the retaining wall with (high overhead) a sign "Walkway to stadiums". Go up this. It is pretty narrow, but it works. You come out in the maintenance area behind a big blue dumpster. Continue into the park
Starting from the Point, go upstream along the Mon River on the bike/ped esplanade near water level, or from the main part of the park head past the museum toward the Mon. As you approach the Ft Pitt Bridge, enter the maintenance area. Continue under the Ft Pitt Bridge. You will probably see parkway traffic going past ahead of you. Spot the big blue dumpster to the right of the traffic and head for it. At the back of the big blue dumpster, between the dumpster and a "no left turn" sign, is a narrow walkway. The walkway is separated from the highway traffic by a jersey barrier. You're safe from traffic on the river side of the jersey barrier. Go down the walkway to Mon Wharf Parking. Switch over to the bike/ped esplanade along the river when you find a place without a curb (this will get you past the open trenches) and continue to the switchback. I annotated photos to help explain this, but I have not been able to upload photos here for a long time (involving mulitple browsers and reboots) -- the photos are on my Facebook feed.
Not to be confused with the *other* wormhole next door, running from the park maintenance area, underneath the tangle of highway ramps and piers, to the parking lot at Fort Pitt & BotA... ;^}
Yes, the Commonwealth Place wormhole. That one is even harder to get started on, and it requires a much greater leap of faith to keep going! Plus the Commonwealth Place end doesn't connect to any bicycle infrastructure, just city streets.
We did use it to get to valet parking for the 3 Rivers Art Festival once, after changing our intended route to guide some DC-Pittsburgh through-riders from the Elize Furnace trail under the Birmingham Bridge into Point State Park. Since we were already going that way, it was easier to say "come with us" than to explain.
Mary's first photo.
Mary's second photo.
Mary, how you get photos into a Bike-Pgh message board post is to first do what you did, post the photos somewhere on the Internet. Then click through on Fb or wherever to where the photo itself is. Right-click on the photo, and from the menu, choose "copy URL of photo" (text varies by browser). Back over to here. In the text area here, insert the photo as follows, replacing my square brackets with angle brackets:
Thanks. Silly me, I've been trying to use the "add media" button above the formatting tool bar. It says to upload files by dragging them into the dialog area or by selecting with their file browser. I do, it says it's downloading, then it reports that the download failed.
Put it on the web, share the link. Got it.
Would be nice if someone painted a directional/guide line between point state park and the ramp until wayfinding signs are up. To get it done officially would be impossible .
I really like the ramp. It cuts travel time from the 1st. Ave. T station to the point in half, He is some video demonstrating that. The only problem I have is the light post and sign, as well as the bridge column that appear without any warning coming up the ramp from the wharf and into the maintenance area. Start the first video at 5:15 to see the sign and column I am referring to.
To the point via switchback ramp and Mon Wharf:
To 1st Ave. Station via city streets:
OK now have photos to go with the narrative for getting from Mon Wharf to Point State Park via the Mon Wharf Wormhole. Repeating the text so everything is in one place.
At the bottom of the ramp, continue along the river on the bike/ped esplanade. You will have to shift over into the parking lot at some point. The best place is after the boat ramp (marked by white stakes in the water) and just before the empty bridge pier. There's a set of metal bollards and no curb not too far before you get to the bridge pier. Beyond here, there is a curb with no curb cut and there are several hazardous open trenches. Continue to the end of the parking lot. There is an unpromising walkway next to the retaining wall with (high overhead) a sign "Walkway to stadiums". Go up this.
It is pretty narrow, but it works. There are a couple of tight spots
You come out in the maintenance area behind a big blue dumpster. Keep going straightish, you'll see the park as you come under the bridge.
Good pictures. Maybe we should paint "Welcome to Pittsburgh's Point State Park" on that big blue dumpster.
I checked out the ramp last night and am so happy that such major infrastructure has been built! The mon war itself is going to get much more attention now. Relatively few people have visited it before but it really is a great experience down there. The river view is amazing and there is even a line of fairly mature trees. I couldn't see what they were last night but the leaves are a dark red at this point in the year.
One minor niggle is that the ramp itself is not a steady slope. It flattens out for a few feet as it passes over support columns. A consistent grade with no flat spots would have been better. Roads aren't built like that and pedestrian/bike ramps shouldn't be either. But that's a pretty minor complaint in comparison to the connectivity this ramp provides.
When the point state park / mon warf connector is built, the entire route will be amazing. Until then it is definitely confusing. The sidewalk connection through parking lots is functional and traffic-free, but first time visitors will have to stop and figure things out. I rode on through at speed and needed to hop some drainage channels in the pavement. They've at least 6 inches wide and quite deep, a perfect gap between concrete sections. Typical riders could easily bury a wheel if not squared up with a good grip.
The "flat spots" are an ADA requirement for wheelchair users. Ramps are required to have a level 5 foot minimum landing at no greater than every 30 inches vertically. Imagine try to pull a wheelchair up that ramp without intermittent places to rest. They're a feature, not a bug. :)
Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the education.
Anyone else getting an OCD reaction to the non-straight sight-lines down the handrails? lol
Thanks for the info edmonds, I had the same reaction to the flat spots that @dfiler had. These are multi-use facilities after all, and I'm actually glad that the flat spots are there now that I know why.
I think the light post with the "Motor Vehicles Only. Pedestrians Prohibited" sign should be removed. someone going past there at a fast enough speed could crash into it as the is no warning as well as being visually obstructed by the bridge column.
The flat spots could also provide a tired cyclist a place to get off and rest for a few seconds without the bike rolling down the ramp. In regards to ADA compliance, why doesn't the staircase on Joncaire St. require a ramp to be ADA compliant?
Don't want to get too far off the topic, but the simple answer is that the ADA doesn't cover city steps like in pittsburgh. That doesn't mean that they couldn't make a ramp next to city steps, just that it isn't required. PNC park built a ramp next to the steps by the 6th street bridge, but they weren't forced to build that by ADA. My source was a quick google search and finding some official-ish looking websites,so I could be wrong.
In my opinion, the city staircases should be exempt from wheelchair requirements. There just isn’t space. And frankly, there is not enough money to repair the existing staircases. Building even one or two ramps would eat the entire budget for trying to maintain all several hundred staircases.
I did a search and in the summaries, it said churches and other places where Federal Civil Rights laws do not apply are the only exemptions to the ADA. It says Steps on private property are also exempt, but the city steps are not on private property. Staircases by there very nature exclude wheelchairs unless a stair lift or ramp is also provided.
Quoted from https://www.wileyrein.com/newsroom-articles-2111.html
1. The ADA Standards Define What Is an Architectural Barrier.
One form of discrimination that the ADA combats is the presence of architectural barriers that prevent the full and equal enjoyment of public accommodations. In some cases this is more obvious. For instance, a facility containing only stairs without a means for people in wheelchairs to maneuver through the facility (such as via ramps or elevators) precludes them from the full and equal enjoyment of the public accommodation.
This is getting off topic both for this thread and for the bike pgh message board .
The switchback is now showing on Google Maps, and can be used to generate routes.
Also, I'm of a similar mind as zzwergel^ on the forest of signs that have been installed at the Grant crossing in an attempt to keep drivers from driving into oncoming traffic. If someone is so fucking stupid that they need all those signs to keep from doing stupid, they shouldn't be operating a motor vehicle.
I just rode on this for the first time this morning and there are workers rebuilding some sidewalk down by the end of the wharf toward the point, presumably fixing the drainage trenches! Hopefully they are also adding a curb cut.
Regarding the forest of signs at Grant Crossing -- I agree there are too many. But there are lots of ramps coming in and PennDOT probably has standards requiring each one.
But independent of the number of signs, there's the unfortunate placement of signposts. In particular, one of the Do Not Enter (or maybe it's a Wrong Way) signs is held up by two posts planted directly in the line of bike/ped travel. Even if you believe that sign is needed, there are other ways to mount it. For example, hanging from the bridge overhead, or even on a single post mounted to the jersey barrier.
PennDOT can probably cite a rule requiring each of those signs. We could argue with them about that, or we could point out that they created a pedestrian safety hazard in the way they're mounted and get them to mount them in a more reasonable way
If you look in Google Street view, it looks like in recent years some of the signs that used to be on one post have been remounted on two posts, creating additional obstacles.
There has been modest progress. In mid-2007 (yes, over 10 years ago) I sent the then-bike/ped coordinator a photo of the intersection with the note "A bicyclist or pedestrian at the crosswalk [headed toward downtown] sees four do-not-enter signs, three wrong-way signs, two one-way-against-you signs, a no left turn sign and, for good measure a no-pedestrians sign. The gray-colored crosswalk and the pedestrian signal offer helpful hints, but the overwhelming impression is 'not this way!' " Discussion at the time was about how bad it was to plant the signposts in the trail. This did lead to the "shared sidewalk" sign about a year later, though that's just one sign in the forest of "DON'T" signs. The green paint and vertical markers (which also restrict the width of the passageway) came a decade after that -- last year IIRC. To get things done you have to keep asking.
It's not the signs that are a problem but rather how the sign posts were installed in the middle of a sidewalk. PennDOT does not take sidewalk users into account when placing signs. This is true for both temporary and permanent signage. Hopefully at least a bit of the complete streets philosophy takes root at PennDOT someday.
I've had good luck with getting PennDOT to fix sign placement issues by complaining to https://www.dot.state.pa.us/penndot/districts/district11/d11ccc.nsf
(use Internet Explorer). It could be as simple as nobody ever complaining in the right way.
I'll second this. I've complained a lot to Penndot about their construction signs taking up the whole sidewalk on Freeport Road in Aspinwall and they were amazingly responsive -- it may be that the penndot office is just down the street on Fox Chapel Road, but I got a response within a day and the sign was moved after that. The guy who answers them at that office basically said, "Yeah, they don't think when they put out these signs."
However, it is much easier to move a temporary sign over 2 feet than a permanent sign. That may be a whole other ballgame
In the past, we've also emailed PennDOT about temporary signs blocking sidewalks (and received and amazingly quick response)... it never occurred to me to complain about the permanent ones. I just emailed the project director of District 11-0 who's been quick to take action. *crossing fingers*
Very promising. [Also crosses fingers.]
(off topic) while we are at it, let's say something about the temporary signs at the bottom of the sidewalk for the Boulevard of the Allies' ramp towards the Liberty bridge. This section is new, and not quite finished yet (some railing is missing) but there are weight restriction signs at the bottom. If this weight restriction is permanent, put a freaking permanent sign!
What about the "Motor Vehicles Only" sign that comes without warning when on the "Walkway to Stadiums"? I think the sign and light post should be moved to the other side of the highway ramp.
Small but significant improvements at the other end of the Mon Wharf:
Drainages are now covered and there is a curb ramp for access. Progress!
I finally got to ride this and it was very nice.
Does anybody know, is there a plan to put any signage in the wormhole?
Or will Pgh just tell visitors, go to the blue dumpster, but don't go out on the highway?
At the very least, a treatment like the Allegheny Cemetery, just having a single unobtrusive line to follow, would do wonders.
At the very least, they could hang a "Great Allegheny Passage " sign with a right-pointing arrow under the "No Left Turn" sign at the entry to the wormhole by the big blue dumpster.
Even the Park Rangers complain about the conditions... I passed one on the sidewalk on my morning commute in the wormhole area and he yelled out (because you'll need to yell above the noise of the Parkways in order to be heard): "Maybe they'll fix this sometime soon?!"
I have some updates on the western end. Apparently DCNR has the money to complete it. I'm doing a walk thru soon on how it will happen. I do know, that if and when it happens, they will be closing the connection during construction, unfortunately. Will update when i know more info, but they are hoping for 2019.
Also of note: City will not be salting or maintaining the new switchback this winter. They claim that the concrete needs a full year to cure before salt can be applied to it. For the sake of it lasting for at least another generation to enjoy, i think that's a small trade off.
However, it's not clear yet how they will be telling the public this information, whether they will be closing it down when it ices up, etc.
Re closing the wormhole during construction of proper connection ...
It may be that the logistics of construction require closure of the current route, but City regs require a reasonable detour. This might, for example, use the Commonwealth Place wormhole or even serve as a forcing function for the next phase of the downtown bike lanes.
Citing authority for the requirement: Pittsburgh DPW policies of June 2017 say "...for long term closures ... a site specific MPT plan must be ... submitted for approval ... must ... show site specific detail, and provide accommodations for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists." (http://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/dpw/Right_of_Way_Procedures_Policy_Manual_2017-06-01_(1).pdf
, p.13, section 6.7)
We should forcefully insist on a reasonable detour
Re salting the switchback: The ban on salting for the first year is likely true. When we put in a new driveway, we were told not to salt -- but we could use sand. So not salting in exchange for long life is a reasonable tradeoff, but salt isn't the only way to manage snow.
A few years ago Friends locked snow shovels to the ends of the Hot Metal Bridge. Anyone willing to shovel could get the combination. We could do that on the switchback as well.
Citing authority for the requirement: Pittsburgh DPW policies of June 2017 say “…for long term closures … a site specific MPT plan must be … submitted for approval … must … show site specific detail, and provide accommodations for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.”
When the Science Center closed the NST for significant duration to complete their expansion the detour simply consisted of the nearest street, North Shore Drive, and the city was not willing to upgrade the route in any way for cyclists.
This is really only meant to be a general example, however, since the city's Stanwix-to-3rd connection between the switchback and the Point will be in place by the time DCNR will likely get started.
The Casino demolition disaster of 2008 was one of the triggers for requiring MPTs for bicycle routes as well as auto routes. Science Center trail work was 2014, I think, and the city has gotten progressively better about providing detours. The policy I cited is dated June 2017.
At this point the City knows how to do detours and has a policy requiring them. But it's on us to keep reminding them.
If the new bike/bus and bike lanes are fully in place before the construction starts, a detour could be posted using those. However, remember that trail users include families who really don't want to ride in traffic with their kids, so the connection would need to be complete. For example, IIRC the route westbound from Wood to Stanwix will still be sharrows, not a protected lane. I'm also waiting to see how the intersection of Stanwix and Third will work for eastbound traffic into the contraflow lane.
City regs require a reasonable detour.
They are banking on using the Smithfield-Forbes-stanwix connection as the detour
additionally, this will be the official detour when the Mon Wharf is closed for flooding
I'm sure it looked fine on the plan. :/
just talked to state parks folks. they plan to remove one of the dumpsters to free up some space. also, they plan to add a temporary "trail lane" thru the parking lot until the official build-out is complete.
Science Center trail work was 2014, I think, and the city has gotten progressively better about providing detours. The policy I cited is dated June 2017.
The Science Center expansion was completed this year and the trail closure happened late-winter, early-spring.
Erok, this is big news that the Wormhole (as we know it in 2018) will be shut down (and may even not exist) as the Mon Wharf Connector project is under construction. It's as if the Grand Opening was a bit misleading. No shade on you or BikePgh, but I'm not sure of Riverlife's veracity.
I think it means that a usable Mon Wharf route won't be available to transient cyclists until maybe 2020.
That is true. They say they will try to minimize closure, but the section that they are working on is extremely tight and they need to get equipment out there. The amount of work that they are planning to do is pretty mind boggling as, with the ramp up, they need to shave it down, and then extend it into the parking area in order for it to be ADA compliant. Additionally, they will be removing a bunch of the belgian block on the river side to lower and flatten it for the trail. I really don't know what else to say about that other than i wish they worked on this before the switchback was built and when everyone was pushing for this decades ago.
FWIW, nobody is claiming that the GAP connection to the Point is complete, even ATA, until the final western section is complete. The celebration was the opening of the switchback, not the celebration of the connection to the Point.
Wasn't there some plan at some point to build something that either floats on the river or juts out over the river as the connector, or am I misremembering? I guess cutting into the parking lot is cheaper and easier to do, which I'm all for. I've never seen the mon wharf completely full of cars during the business day.
yes, i remember that proposal as well. all in all, only 4 spaces are lost to the ramp. the other spaces in that area will be used for park activities only, like vendors who need to load/unload, etc. so the project is also helping park operations as well.
A few years ago Friends locked snow shovels to the ends of the Hot Metal Bridge. Anyone willing to shovel could get the combination. We could do that on the switchback as well.
This is probably the best solution. I've used to have a shovel and a scraper which I used to clean snow on HMB before those shovels where avatilable. Then I've used those. But I had my "tools" readily available since I am working near HMB (1000 echnolgy Dr.). Switchback is far from my work. But I can spend some time if shovels are available.
Aren’t there still missing handrails on that ramp?