Encouraging Almono to think big on active transport

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byogman
Member
#

I pitched to Almono via http://almono.org/contact, just now, about how potentially huge their development could be. Obviously all of the riverfront real-estate for starters, but I encouraged them to think big about their place on the bike/ped network.

If they’d dedicate some of their resources to connect from the EFT trailhead first toward their property, they’d get a lot more traffic than with weird crossing hmb switchbacking and go around the parking lot required to get to the old hazelwood trail, and if they built out from the same point, say, in a Y shaped bike/ped bridge over the RR tracks to Saline/Greenfield they’d cut the biggest gordion knot impediment to active transport in this whole city, and put themselves firmly at the center of things (if I looked at the map right, the EFT lot stands just opposite the middle of the property across 2nd avenue).

Obviously, if someone has better ideas they should share. Was trying to think big and tie it all together. I think that should be the common focus. Of course they’d find a lot of partnerships, and good PR from all this. Finally, people pay a lot for southside and strip real estate close to the trails, which I didn’t fail to mention.

But anyways, per the website, this is exactly the sort of organization that is both capable and willing to think big about this sort of stuff (I mean, look at this: http://almono.org/about-almono/the-vision… the next 127 year plan? that’s a colossal statement) and we know there are more resources behind this than are going to be behind anything for the foreseeable future. I think we should make a point to make our voices heard here.

And of course someone who is interested in the place as a location for their business or to plant roots there and sees this please do chime in, those voices are going to be heard the loudest.

I did notice that it seems to be the same contact point for questions about all the parcels:
Contact:
Brad Kelly
412-697-3203
bkelly@ridc.org


rgrasmus
Member
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I have a feeling that Friends of the Riverfront is actively pushing for good trails as the Almono development progresses. However, I’m not exactly sure how to get involved with them to find out more about the progress/plans for that area.


byogman
Member
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Friends of the Riverfront pushes for good trails along the rivers. I’m actually not sure whether the EFT is on their radar. The connecting stuff inland for sure wasn’t on their radar last time I talked to them (which was maybe a year and a half ago? Around the time I posted an open question about cost efficient bike improvements but the thread turned into “what are we going to do about the chute?”).

I think this almono project is our best opportunity to make something big and cohesive happen here. I worry it may be the only one until one or more of the current bridges die.


Swalfoort
Participant
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I’ve had a discussion with RIDC/Almono about the importance/value of a trail connection, and I know that others have as well. I would suspect FOTR has been part of the dialogue, but cannot be certain.

I provided them with bike count data for the EFT/Hot Metal Bridge, demonstrating demand. I also pointed out the “awesomeness” of a connection across the railroad tracks into Duck Hollow, figuring that if they were doing site design, they might be able to figure all that out.

I have no idea as to whether it will be helpful in the long run. But, it can’t hurt. And if they read the news, they will know that the sorts of employees they want to attract make life decisions on things like the ability to walk or bike to work. So, that can only help too.


Marko82
Participant
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During the opening ceremony for the Hazelwood trail (now closed) they had a booth set up with info on the development. One of the architects (more likely an intern) kept going on and on about how cycling was important and was incorporated into the plan. She did this by pointing out the nice ROAD that was going to hug the river that would have “accommodations” for bikes. There was no dedicated bike trail through most of the development from what I remember. Nor was there much access down to the water’s edge for kids to fish, skip rocks, etc.

Hey, is that a river over there?


edmonds59
Participant
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“During the opening ceremony for the Hazelwood trail (now closed) they had a booth set up with info on the development…”
I was going to mention that big festival they had in Hazelwood. Then not terribly long afterward, closed the trail for an indeterminate amount of time. Whattheheck.


byogman
Member
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Sarah, thanks for providing them some data.

Sounds like there’s a lot of work to do in terms of convincing these folks how much it matters.


scott
Keymaster
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BikePGH started working on this over two years ago when Rothschild Doyno was doing the initial planning. That’s how we were able to plans in place for a street with a dedicated cycle track (Signature Blvd) designed and the trail connected (via Sig Blvd, and new trail). We also emphasized in our meetings the need for traffic calming and a “people first” design to the streets.

We supported RIDC’s PLDP at Planning Commission, and have since supported their funding applications.

Here was their application to the PA Multimodal fund their line items for their proposed scope of work for it.

“The proposed PennDOT Multi-Modal Transportation Fund would be used to establish the site’s “Signature Blvd.” – an access road that will open the site up for development opportunities, realign an
existing railroad line through the Almono-Hazelwood site (Mon Con Line – owned by Almono, LP), link the proposed Signature Blvd. to Second Avenue (S.R. 885) near the Hot Metal Bridge, connect
Hazelwood Avenue extension to Second Avenue/Irvine Street (S.R. 885) in the Hazelwood neighborhood (including upgrading an existing at-grade railroad crossing), as well as continuing an existing
trail network through these improvements and directly linking these areas to the Steel Valley Heritage Trail system (and the Great Allegheny Passage) through both a cycle track (protected on-street bikeway) and off-road trail construction.”

“Estimates for the cost of construction:
Construction of Signature Blvd: $1,209,250
Trail and Cycle Track Construction: $727,500”

We have also had meetings with developers interested in developing the site and have followed up with them with our wish list so-to-say. I am pasting it below:

– The streets of the development to not just be navigable by bicycle, but attract new people to bicycling by enhancing comfort and safety
– Bike routes should be as direct and intuitive as possible
– There are a number of tools by which to do this, but many (but not all) can be found in the NACTO Urban Bicycling Design Guide and the NACTO Urban Streets Design Guide. The former has been endorsed by DPW, and the latter has been endorsed by Mayor Peduto
– We are especially fond on green lane markings, cycle tracks, traffic calming, neighborhood greenways (aka bicycle boulevards), and one-way except bicycle markings should any of your streets be one-way
– Sidewalks should connect pedestrians easily throughout the full development to make the choice to walk an easy one
– Bike parking must be ubiquitous. Also your housing units, and hotel developers should both think about how to make bike storage/parking easier for tenants and guests
– If a new trail is to be developed through the site, it should be lighted and maintained through the winter
– Multiple connections into the community and main street of Hazelwood that are biking and walking friendly
– Bike wayfinding signage to and from the development that conforms to the City’s Bicycle Route and Signage standards
– Easy connection(s) to existing trails near the site

By all means, please keep advocating for these improvements. Lots of stuff can get cut from development plans depending on funding, and we don’t want to lose this opportunity.


Ahlir
Participant
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@Scott, that’s excellent. Let’s see what happens.

Will there be a mechanism for ongoing feedback as the project progresses? As opposed to an input into into the initial planning process.


byogman
Member
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I like these recommendations, and along the river is one (very important) thing.

Connecting from these river trails to more parts of Pittsburgh in a really friendly way is however, sadly, not our forte here. And the latest project and its little spur along saline puts highlighter on that.

In an ideal world the task would fall to the city of Pittsburgh that would git-r-done. And we have a friend in the Mayor’s office now, thank goodness. But we also know the state of the city’s budget.

I don’t know whether it’s more realistic to think that the city’s budget will improve first or whether it’s more realistic to think that one or more of these bridges whose arrangement is so vexing today will be deemed too structurally deficient, even for PA. I think the most reasonable assumption is that whichever comes first, it’ll be way too far off.

And so here we have this giant partnership with huge vision and huge resources to bring to bear doing a river adjacent development that’s bigger than anything going by orders of magnitude and which also happens to stand directly astride our stupidest and heaviest trafficked bike/ped gordion knot.

How could we not push for them to cut it? There’s no trickery here. Because of the size of the development the fact that it stands directly astride the benefits to them would be absolutely colossal… scaled out over a billion dollar development the couple million listed by Scott is certainly nice and all, but really piddly. They can do a lot more and it still be very proportionate and reasonable.

And it works with the advertised ethos of the project perfectly… they’re trying to promote their development as green and forward looking, and centrally located, and all that jazz.

So while bike-pgh was there making sensible recommendations years ago, I think it makes all the sense in the world for us to keep pushing now as an organization, as individuals, and encourage them to think beyond the initial recommendations to something larger, reflecting not just about the river and their place relative to that, but their place relative to Oakland and the city as a whole.

Certainly, it makes more sense than dreaming up what to do with the chute as a hijack of a thread I started (maybe a couples years back was it?) asking about cost effective minor improvements.

So let’s think big here, and then let’s talk to THEM.

Here:
http://almono.org/contact.


byogman
Member
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I thought it was in this thread, but I guess not. In saying the couple million is really piddly and we should think bigger, it’s because it’s on the scale of … no joke… a BILLION dollar total investment.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Ywanna think big? Let’s see how un-goofy I can make this sound.

The price of gasoline on Memorial Day 2001 was 129.9/gallon. In 1971 it was about 29.9/gallon. So in 30 years we more than quadrupled it, and in less than 15 more we tripled that. Anyone want to venture guesses where we’ll be in 10 years? 15? 30?

My point is that fuel costs, as we understand them today, will become unmanageable within a generation. Anyone planning a billion-dollar project might think about how anyone might access that project in a generation. To my line of thinking, this bodes well for the Almono Hazelwood project, since it is along a level path up and downstream on the river, and to and from downtown, and an easy grade up to Oakland, which won’t be 100% dependent on fuel-based transportation.

To that end, however, @byogman‘s ideas matter. How do we get a large number of bicycles to and from Oakland, to and from downtown, and to and from SqHill and points east, through that knot right there, in a scalable manner? How would you put 100x more bicycles through there than are there now?

My vote is to put a huge bicycle roundabout 50 feet in the air over that whole corner, accessible from six directions: Junction Hollow, Greenfield, downtown, Hazelwood, and two legs going into Almono, one pointing upstream, the other downstream.

This thing.


jonawebb
Participant
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EFT as a compromise in itself. It’s an area of land that wasn’t being used for anything else, an old rail line I think, so we got it. It doesn’t have good connections to anyplace people actually live. You have to go up a steep hill to get anywhere. And it has serious space limitations because of the rail line that’s still there. It makes sense to try to improve it in the short run, because it’s there, but really we need a good connection between Oakland and Downtown that doesn’t require you to go down into a valley. And the most likely way we’ll get that is with BRT, with a parallel protected bike lane. That’s a much better way to move forward than going all crazy with the EFT.
As far as the Hazelwood connection goes, though, it does make sense, and I think there’s enough space on the river side of the railroad bridge that you could run a bike lane to the EFT if there was a bridge over Second Avenue. Which is I think what byogman is proposing.


edmonds59
Participant
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“Anyone planning a billion-dollar project might think about how anyone might access that project in a generation…”
Developers want to see their return in a matter of Quarters, let alone years. A generation? Not on the radar.


byogman
Member
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If we do the bike lane part right, BRT is going to be the way people will go between downtown and Oakland specifically.

I’m not proposing they do this to capture that slice of the bike traffic… it wouldn’t work long term. However, a ton of people going other ways go through there now and would continue to… and an easy stop-over into their site would be a boon to retail.

And of course they’ll be creating a huge amount of traffic to/from their site with all the development they do and if they care about that traffic mix and what it does to their land, development options, and quality of life, having the biggest bike friendly hub in town RIGHT THERE matters enormously.

And it matters NOW even.

Yes, a bridge over second avenue is part of what I’m proposing and I’d like to see more people chime in support of. But it’s just a start of what needs to happen and would benefit them. NOW.

http://almono.org/contact


jonawebb
Participant
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For the Eliza Furnace Trail / ALMONO connection, I don’t think you need a bridge. I was down there today and I think there’s enough space to run the trail alongside the tracks (with a fence separation) all the way to the roundhouse, where the ground is level with the street. You just need a crosswalk there.
Even if there’s not enough space for the bike trail next to the tracks down by the roundhouse, there’s definitely enough space up to the edge of the development (where the gate is). You would just build a ramp on the side of Second Avenue furthest from the river up to the trail. Then there’s no bridge, just a ramp up to the trail extension.


jonawebb
Participant
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BTW, here is what the development looks like right now. There is no Hazelwood Trail.


Benzo
Participant
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Blank slate. What is coming can be better than a soggy, spongy, packed limestone trail.


rgrasmus
Member
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Almono today stated on Twitter that their roads they are building will include over 1 mile of protected bike lanes


rgrasmus
Member
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$400k to build pedestrian and bike infrastructure at Almono site (http://www.pahouse.com/wheatley/PAHouseNews.asp?doc=40355):

“PITTSBURGH, Sept. 11 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, today announced a total of $2.3 million in state grants for three projects in his district.

“I am committed to working to bring state funding back to Pittsburgh for economic development and other important purposes, such as improved transportation and public safety,” Wheatley said.

The grants are:

$400,000 for Almono, L.P., toward construction of the Signature Boulevard streetscape. Almono is revitalizing about 178 acres along the Monongahela River in Hazelwood. The overall project is intended to transition a vacant brownfield site into a vibrant riverfront development, including the construction of the 1.5-mile Signature Boulevard and its streetscape. Construction is planned to include development of an integrated landscape and storm water system; and installation of ADA-compliant sidewalks, street lighting and directional signs for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. The total project cost is $6.05 million. The new road would create an alternate route to avoid congested Hazelwood Avenue in Hazelwood and Greenfield. It also would create an alternate route around the very congested Greenfield Avenue-Irvine Street-Second Avenue intersection, which has a high incidence of vehicle accidents and is not passable for pedestrians or bicyclists.”


jonawebb
Participant
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“It also would create an alternate route around the very congested Greenfield Avenue-Irvine Street-Second Avenue intersection, which has a high incidence of vehicle accidents and is not passable for pedestrians or bicyclists.”
Woo hoo!


paulheckbert
Participant
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tonight

http://almono.org/community/events

ALMONO Community Meeting

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Food at 6:00pm, Meeting starts at 6:30pm
Firefighters Hall – 120 Flowers Ave, Hazelwood

Topics will include:
* Open space designs
* Phase 1 buildings
* Site sustainability goals
* Transportation update
* Timeline of the work


byogman
Member
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It absolutely killed me, but I couldn’t attend. Someone report?


paulheckbert
Participant
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A meeting report:
Attendance was good: about 150 people. The speakers were from RIDC and Perkins+Will, an architecture/design firm. The presentations were pretty boring: lots of circles, squares, clip-art trees, … talk of greenspace and placemaking. There was no major news that I caught, since the October meeting (http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/hazelwood-trail-input-session-10162014/#post-303353). The most memorable points (commentary in italics):

* They plan to focus much of the initial development near the Mill building: make that a destination with shops & food.

* They’re conscious that Hazelwood gets a lot of through traffic (i.e. South Hills to Oakland). At some future date they might rebuild the 2nd-Saline-Greenfield-Irvine intersection and divert most through traffic (non-Hazelwood traffic) off Irvine and onto 2nd, which would become a high-volume boulevard. So Irvine would get traffic calming (e.g. on-street parking). I don’t see how that helps Hazelwood much, since the business district that is most impaired by high traffic is on 2nd (the continuation of Irvine) south of Hazelwood Ave, and is outside of ALMONO.
* I also don’t know how this boulevard idea would mesh with their proposal to build a ramp from the south corner of the Eliza Furnace / UPMC parking lot down to 2nd Ave. If 2nd is a four lane, high-traffic boulevard then that’s not bike-friendly. RIDC says CSX has been unresponsive on this ramp proposal.

* They’re planning geothermal heating & cooling using underground pipes – sounds fancy but they say it’s inexpensive.
* To help Hazelwood residents (either inside ALMONO or outside) get to jobs/school in Oakland, they’re talking about (but no firm plans) to have public transit through Junction Hollow to Oakland.
* They strongly hope to have a nice boardwalk along the river bank near Hazelwood Ave, but since that is CSX land, not ALMONO, they need a land purchase or easement, and that’s still unresolved.
* There’s no news on future bike trail connection between Hazelwood Ave and the Duck Hollow Trail. I emphasized the importance of such a connection. CSX and Allegheny Valley Railroad (which operates the Glenwood Railyard) have been hostile to cyclists, to date.

* During Q&A, the questions were along the lines of “We want a grocery store” and “This sounds nice, but not a place I could afford to live or eat; how will this help Hazelwood?”


cowchip
Member
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I doubt we will ever see become a Legal / Safe bike crossing @ Duck Hollow/ Glenwood Bridge unless you go over the tracks with a bridge


Ahlir
Participant
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public transit through Junction Hollow to Oakland

And the PH bike trail, what happens to it? Not to mention Panther Hollow itself. One would hope this might be a climb up to Swinburne (though of course the RR is in the way).


paulheckbert
Participant
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The Glenwood Railyard is operated by Allegheny Valley Railroad. They are the company that put up the fence at the end of the Duck Hollow Trail, impeding access between there and Second Avenue and the Glenwood Bridge.

This news story says that their business has grown in recent years due to fracking:

“Our business has grown approximately 35 percent in the last three years, and probably two-thirds of that is related to the Marcellus shale,” said Russell Peterson, CEO of Allegheny Valley and the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad. The two companies are owned and operated by Carload Express in Oakmont.

The Glenwood Yard, center of Allegheny Valley’s Pittsburgh operations, will enter the last phase of a $6 million overhaul in the spring [of 2013]. The upgrade will increase capacity for loading, sorting and moving cars that carry sand used in hydraulic fracturing; water and chemicals used in drilling; metal pipe segments and wooden “mats” for crane equipment.

http://triblive.com/home/2921718-74/gas-railroad-shale-trains-rail-pennsylvania-tracks-valley-yard-ago

If frac sand is inhaled, it can cause silicosis, a lung disease. https://www.osha.gov/dts/hazardalerts/hydraulic_frac_hazard_alert.html . Is AVRR transloading sand in Hazelwood?


paulheckbert
Participant
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(there was discussion of turning Second Ave into a thru-traffic boulevard in another thread; I’ll reply here).

There was talk of this at the 2015/2/24 meeting. See my synopsis. Below is a map shown at that meeting. Note the “pass through” traffic (orange line) on Second Ave north of Hazelwood Ave, and seemingly on Gloster St (west of the RR tracks) south of it. Hmm. Two issues with that: (1) Gloster St is a quiet residential street, currently, (2) Ahlir’s question: where would the boulevard cross the tracks to connect to the Glenwood Bridge? At the meeting, the stated goal of moving thru traffic to the boulevard was to help the Hazelwood businesses by traffic calming on Second Ave south of Hazelwood Ave.


neilmd
Member
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Thanks. That also ties in to the desire of folks to see the Duck Hollow trail somehow connect.

However, I’m wondering about what to do on Irvine right now during development.


edmonds59
Participant
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I feel kind of bad for not paying more attention to the 2/24 report, but holy shit is that “plan” messed up.
For one thing directing “Pass-through traffic” isn’t going to help the Hazelwood business district at all, it’s a bullshit smokescreen for directing traffic to whatever new retail they propose in Al Mono. Removing traffic, pass through or otherwise, never helps a business district. Bullshit.
I doubt it will work anyway. No one (especially yinzers) is going to take all those turns to take a pass through. They’re going to keep taking the same route they’ve always taken since their pappy drove that way. So you’re going to end up with a 4, maybe 5 lane underutilized roadway through the new development, totally people, pedestrian, and bike UN-friendly, and fat surface parking lots.
I don’t know, but those look suspiciously like big box stores on the plan. Hopefully I’m wrong. But it looks like the exact same kind of retrograde thinking that produced the hideous big box clusterfk at the Homestead Waterfront. And the exact same kind of 1950’s thinking that decided a 5 lane highway was needed to service the big boxes.
That plan reads to me like a brainless photocopy of Homestead. And pretty much zilch for the community. I see the whole plan creeping toward developer-think.


paulheckbert
Participant
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I’m more optimistic than @edmonds59 about the way ALMONO will turn out. RIDC has said repeatedly that they don’t want ALMONO to be another Waterfront. They say “we already have too many big box stores”, “Pittsburgh is over-malled”, etc. They say they don’t want to suck the life out of the existing Hazelwood business district; they want to connect to it and help rejuvenate it. Reasons I believe they’re sincere: they plan on a mix of business and residential, they plan to connect up the new streets to existing streets (Langhorn, Blair, Lytle) in the Hazelwood flats west of the railroad tracks. Bike trails are part of their plans, not an afterthought. They’re planning on transit to Oakland. Their first priority is to figure out what goes in the old J&L mill building, which is close to Hazelwood Ave.

But they are being quite ambitious in places, and some of their graphics suffer from design hype syndrome. Where their good wishes may fall short: they’re hemmed in by RR tracks on the west (along the river) and the east (along Irvine/Second) so ALMONO has few east-west connections. It’s almost like a linear island. 885 is a traffic problem and as ALMONO grows that’ll get worse. The intersection of Second, Saline, Greenfield, and Irvine is a mess and that will become more congested. CSX and AVRR are oppositional. I’m not convinced they’re doing enough to employ Hazelwood residents in the construction or the new industries, or planning to build enough low-income housing. RIDC is not in a position to mandate that a grocery store come into Hazelwood.

This is all going to take years. It sounds like getting the new roads built, getting some new businesses established in the mill building, and rebuilding the Hazelwood Bike Trail of a couple years ago are things we can expect in a year or two. But re-engineering of the messy intersection, possible construction of a “boulevard”, and a thru bike trail connecting to Glenwood Bridge are more long-range and blue-sky at this point; maybe they’ll never happen.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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…which is why I suggested that suspended structure for cyclists at the Saline/2nd corner. That takes all the complexity out of accommodating cyclists in any transportation plan. Done right, it could be a point of beauty for the area, not Yet Another Blocky Building.


paulheckbert
Participant
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http://www.post-gazette.com/in-the-lead-2015/reports/2015/05/11/In-The-Lead-Hazelwood-Almono-gives-neighborhood-a-shot-at-recovery/stories/201505140090
Hazelwood: Almono gives neighborhood a shot at recovery.

This PG story discusses the desire of Hazelwood residents for a food store and jobs.

my comment:

Better connections along the river for pedestrians and cyclists would help. The trail should be restored from the Hot Metal Bridge to Hazelwood Ave, then extended further upstream to connect with the Duck Hollow Trail and the Glenwood Bridge. That way Hazelwood residents could bike more easily to Southside, Downtown, Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Frick Park, Swissvale, Homestead; and residents of those communities could more easily get to Hazelwood. Better recreation and health, too.


Benzo
Participant
#

Extending the trail to the Glenwood bridge would make a connection to the GAP trail!

It could be made better by adding some runnels on the stairs on the south side of the river.


paulheckbert
Participant
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Allegheny Valley Railroad freight train derails in Hazelwood; no injuries as 11 to 13 cars topple

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/05/14/Freight-train-derails-in-Hazelwood-pittsburgh/stories/201505140271


mjost7
Member
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PennDOT has issued an RFP to replace the Glennwood Bridge south side staircases.

It would be great if they could also build a ramp from the Duck Hollow Trail up to the Glennwood bridge sidewalk which would allow Duck Hollow trail users to cross the tracks.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Benzo
Participant
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@mjost7 – Any details on the specifics for the stair replacement? Will this be bike-friendly and/or handicapped accessible?


Ahlir
Participant
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For south Glenwood Br, add a switchback ramp for bikes and widen the sidewalk to the Baldwin stairs, which themselves could stand a rebuild (plus a ramp).


Benzo
Participant
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Very nice. I would love to see ramps instead of those stairs. This would be great to connect the Hazelwood trail (when it’s rebuilt, or alternative on-road infrastructure through the almono site) to the GAP

If they could add a duck hollow connector on the other side this would be a spectacular trail connection since you could then ride through Frick to duck hollow to the GAP very easily or legally connect up from duck hollow to hazelwood without tresspassing on railroad property.

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