This month, Councilman Wilson discusses updates on major construction projects happening across the Northside.
Photo: Office of Councilman Wilson
This month, I wanted to share some updates on major construction projects that we are completing across the Northside.
First, the new West Ohio Street Bridge has been opened to cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists. This bridge, which is 117 years old and spans the Norfolk Southern Railroad in Allegheny Commons, had deteriorated so badly that it was closed to traffic in January 2018. The City of Pittsburgh and our partners spent $6.25 million to reconstruct the bridge and reopen it for the public. If you had become used to using the temporary pedestrian bridge on the southern side of the bridge to cross from one side of Allegheny Commons to the other, you are now welcome to use the new bridge. Also, for the first time in years now, you can drive or bike across this span. The remaining construction work at the site of this new bridge should be completed by early December. Please note that Merchant Street at the intersection of Ridge Avenue will remain closed while the old Ridge Place Bridge is demolished in the coming weeks.
Work is also ongoing to complete the conversion of the ring road at Allegheny Commons–North, South, East, and West Commons Streets–from one-way roads to bidirectional traffic patterns with bicycle lanes. Currently, the City’s Department of Mobility & Infrastructure (DOMI) has closed sections of Ridge Avenue, East Ohio Street, and South Federal Street in order to complete this phase of the conversion. These roads are scheduled to reopen to drivers and bicyclists at the end of November. One lane of traffic along North, South, East, and West Commons has been maintained throughout this conversion project. I realize that school bus drop-off and pick-up at Allegheny Traditional Academy is a concern for school administrators and parents. I’ve met with the school principal and the administrators to come up with a solution. The plan will be for buses to have access to the section of Arch Street that was cut off a long time ago. Eventually the buses will turn from North Avenue to Arch Street and continue straight, accessing a shortcut to the ring road. Modifications like a curb cut will be made so that school buses can enter the ring road. There will also be no parking for cars during school drop-off and pick-up times in front of the school so that buses can park without blocking traffic.
Finally, last month DOMI removed the abandoned railroad tracks that used to cut across River Avenue. This was a tricky and time consuming puzzle to solve, but I’m glad I was able to do it with the assistance of the City’s Law Department and DOMI. These railroad tracks do not connect any train lines today. They just make it dangerous for cyclists and drivers to travel on River Avenue. Back in the 1950s, a city ordinance granted the owner of these tracks permission to lay them across River Avenue, a public right-of-way. Earlier this year, I worked with the Law Department to draft and pass an ordinance to revoke this permission. After passage of this ordinance, we had to give the owners of the tracks written notice and six months to remove the tracks. Because they failed to remove these tracks, DOMI removed them in mid-October and sent the property owner the bill. While we were at it, we also regraded and paved a great deal of River Avenue and the riverfront trail that runs alongside it. I’m very appreciative of the partnership I had with multiple City departments to get this done because I know so many cyclists who have traveled River Avenue have had bad slip-and-falls on these tracks.
Thank you for your patience while we have been making these improvements on the Northside. If you have any suggestions or ideas for further improvements to this infrastructure, please feel free to contact my office. You can reach my staff at 412-255-2135, email us at email@example.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We look forward to hearing from all of you.
COUNCILMAN, DISTRICT 1