South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Changes coming to E. Carson St. to make it safer

Pedestrian safety key to enhancements

 

March 27, 2018

East Carson Street is the most dangerous road in the region and the sixth most dangerous road in the state, PennDOT officials explained at The Brashear Center last week.

The officials utilized crash data gathered from 2007-2011 in making the determination. During those years, there were 474 crashes, three fatalities, 11 major injuries, 86 pedestrian crashes and three bicycle crashes.

In October 2012 the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) conducted a road safety audit which recommended 30 short range, 11 mid-range and five long-range strategies addressing safety and congestion problems in the corridor.

PennDOT worked with an advisory committee consisting of representatives from SPC, the Port Authority, Allegheny County, City of Pittsburgh, Bike Pittsburgh, and area stakeholders to develop a plan to improve safety and multimodal mobility while reducing congestion.

The plan will not only include safety improvements from Station Square to 33rd Street on East Carson Street, but also paving and lighting work. Changes to traffic patterns at several intersections will result from efforts to improve pedestrian safety.

Among the improvements outlined at The Brashear Center last week were to sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic patterns.

PennDOT district Traffic Engineer Todd Kravits explained there were multiple challenges in putting together a design and concept to make improvements in the corridor. In the two-and-a-half miles of the project, bookended with mixed use developments, there is light industrial, manufacturing, commercial and residential.

He noted East Carson is mostly two or three lanes and carries between 12,000 and 15,000 vehicles a day. It is also used for different modes of transportation: pedestrians, motor vehicles, bicycles and near Station Square LTR and incline.

As part of the project, the surface of East Carson Street will be rehabilitated, "because of the potholes you're now seeing," Mr. Kravits said.

Other improvements that are planned include many of the corners along the corridor with new ADA compliant curb ramps. Additionally, a number of the corners will be enhanced with "bump-outs" or curb extensions that narrow the distance for pedestrians to cross the street, help to calm traffic and facilitate boarding of Port Authority buses.

Several corners will also benefit from "super stops," extra-long bus length bump-outs allowing passengers to use the front and rear doors simultaneously directly from the curb.

To enhance pedestrian safety, a sidewalk will be installed on East Carson from Arlington Avenue to Seventh Street where there is currently a bike lane. Sharrows, or shared lane markings, will be utilized replacing the dedicated bike lane along the way.

At 10th Street, officials are working with the gas station owners on both corners to eliminate some of the curb cuts providing access to the pumps to limit where traffic can enter and exit the businesses.

As part of the project, the lane configuration on 10th Street will be changed to three lanes from the current four with protected permitted left turn lanes. The configuration is planned to match a change Allegheny County is making to the 10th Street Bridge.

A major change coming at 19th and Carson will be "pedestrian refuge islands" replacing the left turn lanes. The islands combined with bump-outs will provide a safer crossing distance for pedestrians.

Vehicles will still be permitted make left turns onto 19th Street from Carson but will not have dedicated lanes to do so.

Another major change is coming to the 22nd Street intersection where another pedestrian refuge island through the intersection will be installed and left turns from either side of East Carson eliminated. Only right turns will be permitted to and from 22nd Street.

The sidewalk and bike lanes on the Birmingham Bridge will be extended down to East Carson. On the outbound side of the bridge heading toward Oakland, the entrance "slide" will be narrowed to decrease pedestrian crossing distance and increase safety.

A right turn signal will be installed at the end of the bridge where traffic merges on to East Carson.

In addition, the pedestrian crosswalk across Carson at 23rd will be eliminated. A median will be installed to prevent left turns at the intersection.

Further up East Carson, a low concrete median will be installed just past Hot Metal Street.

The almost highway-like merge point from Sarah Street onto East Carson Street will be eliminated. Instead, traffic will be directed to make a right turn at the light.

East Carson Street will also be milled and paved as part of the project. Traffic lights along the corridor will be either replaced or upgraded.

Several old steel poles along East Carson Street will be removed.

The PennDOT portion of the project is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018 and extend throughout 2019.

The East Carson Street Safety Improvement Project is budgeted at $17.5 million.

Along with PennDOT's plans, the City of Pittsburgh is planning $3.2 million in streetscaping improvements to the East Carson Street corridor, Emily Gaspich explained.

City plans include enhancements to the "non-signalized" intersections PennDOT is not planning to improve. The city improvements include street level lighting, pedestrian level lighting and street trees. There may be opportunities in the future to add street furniture including benches and recycling bins.

The goal is to use city standard materials will be used from 10th to 25th streets like those now used between 25th and 33rd streets.

The city will do "full deck reconstruction" of the sidewalk from behind the curb and extending to the end of the tree pit, about three feet. The three feet will allow for the placement of the lights and trees.

Property owners will be able to upgrade their sidewalks at their discretion.

The streetscape project is being funded through the city's Capital Budget.

Councilman Bruce Kraus said while there currently is not funding for private sidewalks, the city is exploring the possibility of a public/private partnership to replace the walks. If it happens, he could see it being a 75/25 split with the property owner paying the larger portion.

Another pedestrian safety project in the works for the city in 2020 is the 18th Street Signal Project. Five signals in the 18th Street corridor will be upgraded and brought into compliance with ADA laws and an additional signal will be added.

The intersections that will be upgraded are at: Sarah, Jane, Mission, Arlington and further up at Brownsville Road and Bausman. The new signal will be placed at the Josephine Street intersection.

The upgraded and new signals will include pedestrian counters and be audible. The intersections will also be upgraded with handicapped ramps.

Three million dollars in federal funds will cover the cost of the 18th Street Signals Project.

A copy of the PennDOT slide presentation from the informational meeting is available at: http://bit.ly/2pE1TWJ.

 

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