West End Branch (P&WV/W&LE) rail trail
I’m north, but I travel to Crafton, Dormont and Brookline, so my personal interest is S, SW and W is as a destination, not origin. But I see the need to get to/from those areas as a major weak spot in regional bike travel.
As to riding in traffic, the more of us who do, the more that people will get used to seeing us. I may sound like a broken record here (wow, that metaphor is getting old), but take the lane, and go ahead and piss off a few people. If you’re getting horns, that means they’re seeing you. Better that than to get clipped hugging the edge when they think they can get past you.
I travel to the West End as part of my commute and I can’t tell you how much I despise coming onto Carson toward town from the West End Circle. I frequently get buzzed at the merge point of Carson and the bottom of the ramp, a few times by Pat buses. I take the steps up to the Circle and use the crosswalk in the morning but tend to forget to do so in the afternoon.
A decent connection through the West End would remove a lot of fear from my commute.
I FINALLY biked into work today for the first time since we moved to our new Uptown location (6 months ago!). It was fabulous. I have to give west Pittsburgh drivers A+ and a gold star for their performance today, 100% perfect passes, 0 bitchnmoanin’. I stopped for a drink at the foot of the Steuben Street hill in Crafton before climbing, and a middle aged white beard guy in a green Howard Hannah work van headed the other way rolled down his window and said jovially “that’s a hell of a workout you got there! Have a good day!”. Good stuff. If anyone cares to know how I have found to be ways to deal with the West End Passage, let me know, I can share details.
That’s about as straight of a shot as you get ’round here.
By the way…
The western portion of this trail would make an excellent, if circuitous, bypass around the troublesome parts of the West End Circle.
The theory behind this is that the ramps from Carson level (West Carson Street heading northwest and southeast) to Circle level (West End Circle area, West End Bridge, and roads to points southwest) are the dangerous parts.
The “keystone” of this bypass would be the old bridge which connects the Circle with the railroad tracks at Carson level. Together with the West Carson sidewalks (northwest of the WEC) to connect at Carson level, and the Circle sidewalk and crosswalk network to connect at Circle level, the bridge would connect these levels, without having to walk/bike across busy West Carson Street. (Tip: currently, the northwest ramp of West Carson up to Circle level can be used instead of the bridge, for those who need such a connection now).
(See map here to see the trail route).
For example, if someone would like to get from the Station Square Trail to South Main Street, they would take the West Carson sidewalk under the WECircle until the old railroad coming down from the bridge is nearly at sidewalk level. Then turn right and right again to go up the railroad grade and over the bridge, and under archway of the Mon Line tracks, and then onto the sidewalk of Steuben Street. Turn right on the sidewalk, and take the crosswalk and sidewalk of the bridge over Saw Mill Run to get across the Circle to South Main Street. (NOTE: the rail grade etc. may not be passable. This is a proposed route, not something I have done or which I think others should attempt before this becomes an actual trail!)
To get to the West End Bridge from the Station Square trail one would do the same as above until reaching the Steuben Street sidewalk. Then one would head left on the sidewalk, and use crosswalks to go over the bridge.
If you could make crosswalks and connections better from woodruf to bausman, you could create another great connection up the hill. Bausman has a wide shoulder on the climbing side. There is a master plan now for McKinley park here, which may affect the street layout. I commented that they should avoid removing the shoulder, and should consider having a bike lane on the climbing side of the street as it’s not a bad way to get up the hill and has the width to support a bike lane.
I proposed something similar in the Wabash Tunnel thread. The topics really are interlinked. Taking it up a notch, we were also talking about it for the botched West Carson Street project back in 2011-12. We really need to be talking about the whole corridor from Bethel Park to McKees Rocks, with the centerpiece being biking through the Wabash Tunnel.
The abandoned P&WV railroad bridge near west end circle over west carson is slated for demolition as part of the PennDOT West Carson Viaduct project.See this page at PGHbridges and a Google Maps sattelite view for more information on what seems is the relevant bridge. See the last paragraph here for more information. By the way, this was not originally included in the project scope.
I am not sure what the purpose of tearing down that bridge is; to the best of my knowledge, there are no height restrictions which it imposes, and no impending dangers which the bridge is likely to cause to west carson. When passing by today, I asked some workers who were working on the road near that bridge why the bridge is set to be torn down, for it seems there are no height restrictions? They answered that it is no longer in use so is being torn down. So it seems that it is being demolished for no other reason aside from that it is no longer carries railroad traffic.
(Aside: PennDOT has demolished abandoned railroad bridges which imposed height problems in the past, for example a nearby bridge (which was torn down because of insufficient height below it during the West End Circle project), and two Montour Railroad bridges — here, pdf and here. Does anyone know, however, if they previously have torn down any unused railroad bridges which did not impose height restrictions?)
This bridge, together with nearby abandoned railroad grade, would make a great way to navigate the West End Circle for bicyclists and pedestrians. Why should it be torn down if it can be of good use? Perhaps the previously unplanned demolition of this bridge can be canceled, or at least postponed, and be made into an off-road connection, perhaps eventually tying into nearby bicycle and pedestrian amenities!
This really grinds my gears. We talked about this as far back as December 2011 when they were planning the West Carson work, and April 2010 when I started the Wabash Tunnel thread.
TL;DR version, I want to connect River Ave in McKees Rocks with Transport Street in Brookline with a bike trail, and this bridge is part of it.
My only guess as to why they would want to demolish the bridge is to widen the road in the place where some bridge supports were between the old sidewalk and road. If this is the case, erhaps the can demolish only the parts of the bridge which those supports are supporting? As the Venice (PA50/980) bridge on the montour trail has shown, even part of a bridge (a span) is worth reusing. (the old span over the creek was used there, while the rest of the bridge was rebuilt; PennDOT had demolished most of it years earlier due to clearance problems).
This trail in its entirety, especially with a new bridge where the old one was, over the Saw Mill Run area, can really be an attraction in and of itself, kind of like the Highline in new york, due to all its long bridges, aside from all the connections to surrounding areas it would create.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 2016
Northbound West Carson Street Traffic Shift begins Monday in Pittsburgh
Work begins to remove railroad bridge
Pittsburgh – PennDOT is announcing work to remove a railroad bridge over West Carson Street (Route 51) in the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, will begin Monday, December 5 weather permitting.
Crews from the Lane Construction Company will begin work on Monday to remove the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad Bridge that runs over and parallel to West Carson Street near the West End Circle. To allow the work to occur, traffic from the northbound Route 837 ramp to West Carson Street will be shifted into the center lane. A stop condition will be implemented at the intersection of the ramp and West Carson Street. Traffic will be shifted back into the normal configuration north of the railroad bridge. The restriction will begin at 7 a.m. Monday morning and remain in place through Friday, December 23.
Additionally, a long-term closure of the ramp from northbound Route 837 to West Carson Street will occur in mid-December. Additional details will be provided before the closure begins.
Motorists are advised to use caution and allow extra time when traveling through the area. Visit 511pa.com or call 511 from any phone to check traffic conditions on major roadways before traveling.
To help keep motorists informed as work progresses, PennDOT has created an email distribution list for West Carson Street traffic advisories and construction updates. Enroll by sending email addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please write “Subscribe – West Carson Street” in the subject line.
MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Cowan, 412-429-5010
# # #
But this too is for the best. It is a challenge to overcome, and not an insurmountable obstacle. As part of a bigger West Carson street trail, and in a bigger view the Ohio River trail; perhaps something which will work out for bigger good in the end can come out of this :-)
And on a more positive note, it was wonderful to see that the trail was on a list of potential projects by BikePgh! Thank you everyone! :-)
And, as for the demolition of the railroad bridge, as I think I have mentioned previously, while a big disappointment, this definitely would not take away the worthiness and awesomeness of having trail segments which are (for the time being) separate trails on their own :-) On the north/river section, perhaps the West Carson sidewalk could be connected to the former rail ROW(right of way) up until where the bridge would have been (as a little park/trail/lookout or something like that), while the parts south of Carson would be the larger section of trail. (While working on it, perhaps it may be a nice idea to build a bridge over South Main street connecting the rail corridor along Saw Mill Run, to the sidewalk with the old railing by the big culvert over Saw Mill Run between Steuben and South Main, and to the little section of wide sidewalk/trail north of South Main. Continuing north, the trail could maybe cross Steuben at grade, since it it not nearly as busy, and continue to the tunnel by the Norfolk Southern rail tracks, ending in a lookout to the river and a potential continuation via new bridge.)
On another related note: There is an old rail bridge all the way at the northwest of West Carson, just before Chartiers Creek, connecting to an area where there previously was tracks. Along with an empty area immediately northeast of the adjacent active CSX tracks, there was a proposal years ago to have a greenway/trailhead here. Perhaps Riverlife would be interested in something akin to this?
Also, concerning the extension of the trolley trail into the west end proper, it can potentially link into this trail.
On the Seldom Seen Greenway (south) end of this trail, where the abandoned railway meets the active one, if the trail will be allowed to continue and extend over the second track of the active rail until the Liberty Tunnel, this trail can connect to the Saw Mill Run watershed trail between Liberty Bridge and 51/88 intersection.
I’m hopeful that, at the very least, PennDOT will now clean up the sidewalk on West Carson from the Pacific Pride gas station going towards the Corliss Tunnel. I thought that that was part of the entire West Carson St. project in the first place. It currently gets pretty war zone-y in parts, but the new stuff is quite nice and bikeable.
Personally, I still consider biking West Carson to be suicidal and will stick to the sidewalk until corrected.
Tuesday, January 14 is the first Crafton Heights Westwood Ridgemont community meeting since funding was awarded for work on the Crafton Boulevard Trolley Trail. This is a big win for our the West Pittsburgh Bike/Ped Committee and the community and they’d love to see a good turnout! 6:30 PM Westwood Elementary Library. https://www.facebook.com/events/934679110262820/
Just wanted to call attention to a tangent (literally), a 1994 proposal for a bikeway across the West End. This porposal is to be found in an Environmental Impact Statement for the West Busway…
https://books.google.com/books?id=bx43AQAAMAAJ&pg=SA2-PA7 (section “Bikeway Enhancement”)
The proposed bikeway starts in Downtown Pittsburgh, and follows the Station Square Trail until its end. It then would connect to the West End Circle. It then connects to the corner of Wabash Street and McCartney Street, either via local roads or through the proposed P&WV/W&LE rail trail. It then follows McCartney Street and then the proposed and existing sections of the West End Trolley Trail, and then follows Crafton Boulevard for a bit until it passes over the West Busway. Then it turns south and follows the trail/track (also former trolley right-of-way) until Idlewood Station. It then parallels the West Busway alignment until Carnegie Station.
Since 1994, the Panhandle Trail has been developed, starting at Walkers Mill. Also, the train tracks on the Panhandle Route right-of-way past Carnegie Station are said to have fallen out of use. Therefore, perhaps the right-of-way those tracks are on can form a rail-with-trail or rail-to-trail connecting the proposed bikeway to the Panhandle Trail. This would form an almost completely off-road route between Downtown Pittsburgh and the Panhandle Trail, and from there to West Virginia or the Montour Trail.
The portion from West End Circle to Carnegie Station is not always flat; perhaps one day a trail following West Carson Street and Chartiers Creek can provide a flatter alternative.
Feel free to comment :-)
Thank you for digging that up! In 1994 I was still relatively new to advocacy, and was more interested in the transit project than the bikeway, but I knew about it. Much of the West Busway was built in 1997, but disputes over the WCarson connector, and ultimate cancellation of a new Wabash Bridge, also sidelined the trail. It would take three years to open the new Busway but the bikeway was lost to all that dissension.
I *think* it is ok to share this…
I did not attend, but a local attendee put this information from the meeting on a google drive which was shared on the bike pad facebook group.
I just cut-and-pasted the link, so I hope this works, otherwise, I’m not good at attachments, so…
Recently I discovered that there used to be a road know as Independence Street, which went from the bottom of McCartney Street (at the four-way intersection of Wabash, McCartney, and Greentree Road), over Saw Mill Run, and gradually going uphill to the West End Branch, and crossing it at a grade crossing (see map here, adjacent map tiles here).
This bridge (and also the Plank Street bridge a bit downstream on Saw Mill Run) seems to have been removed during a Saw Mill Run flood control project. The project is described here and here (interestingly, those links also propose a “green area” with a little trail and benches on the east side of Saw Mill Run, across from Wabash Playground; this does not seem to have been implemented).
Adding a bicycle/pedestrian bridge where the Independence Street Bridge used to be, and making the old road into a trail, and using the western end of the West End Branch alignment, would create an almost completely off-road route from the West End Bridge to Crafton via the West End Trolley Trail (see here). By opening the Wabash Tunnel to bikes and peds, and connecting it to the West End Branch trail and to the Seldom Seen Greenway, it would be possible to go from Downtown Pittsburgh to West End, Crafton, Brookline, Beechview and more places in a safe manner.
All this is now in the map I posted previously (https://umap.openstreetmap.fr/en/map/west-end-branch_50698).
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