It’s not just another study.
Well over 100 people packed into the basement of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Beechview for a lively initial meeting regarding the future of Broadway Ave.
“We’re here to listen to you,” said Felipe Palomo, a neighborhood planner with the City of Pittsburgh. “We have some ideas we’d like to propose. We think they’re good ideas, but we are also hoping for your ideas.”
The goal of the Broadway Avenue Public Realm (BAPR) Project is to make improvements to a 1.2-mile stretch of Broadway between Wenzell and Fallowfield that will improve the quality of life for all Beechview residents.
Priorities include reconfiguring the roadway to slow vehicle traffic and installing bike lanes; upgrading T stops to make them ADA compliant, safer and more accessible to pedestrians; and making streetscape improvements that include more lighting, benches and green infrastructure.
“A lot of what we’re talking about are common sense improvements that really should have been made decades ago,” says Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, who represents Beechview and District 4 on City Council.
Rudiak, along with State Senator Wayne Fontana, helped to secure a $600,000 state Multimodal Transportation Fund grant, which was matched by $300,000 in funding from the city.
The city is also formally requesting Port Authority funding to help augment the city and state funding.
“Improving the T stops will improve the ridership for the Port Authority, and the safety for Port Authority riders,” says Rudiak, adding that she seeks to enhance the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between the parties.
The project builds upon the 2011 SMARTRID study that sought to revitalize the area, and in particular, the business district through transit improvements.
After a 30-minute presentation from city representatives and plan consultants, residents were invited to breakout sessions where they could share their thoughts and vote on various aspects of the plan, from whether a plaza should be created at the Beechview/Broadway/Hampshire intersection to whether the Hampshire T stop should move to Coast Ave.
The session attracted disparate voices around a variety of issues, especially bike lanes. Some attendees mentioned that the current T platforms are difficult to access, making it impractical to board anything other than the first train car, which is often already packed.
Planners also noted that each of the proposals would maintain on-street parking, which was identified as a priority by the community.
One attendee, Heather McClain, has been a Beechview resident since late 2011. She was interested in design elements that include green infrastructure.
“One of my biggest concerns, being that it’s Beechview and it’s so hilly, is figuring out some stormwater management ideas . . . just ways to decrease the amount of flooding that we get.”
The planners will take the community’s suggestions and present again in August. A final design will be selected in 2018 and construction is scheduled to begin in 2019.
See pittsburghpa.gov for more information on the Broadway Avenue Public Realm Project.