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By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Mobility hub will feature e-scooters, transit information on Warrington


Last updated 4/29/2021 at 8:17am

As part of MovePGH, the city's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure is planning to add a mobility hub, similar to this one on E. Carson Street, to Warrington Avenue in Allentown. The hub will have a recharging station for e-scooters along with a screen for real-time transit information and more.

Holding its first public meeting in more than a year, the Allentown CDC (ACDC) presented a short agenda by way of Zoom last week.

Tyler Abbott, ACDC president, welcomed those in attendance.

"We're an organization within the Allentown community that helps with the business district, the residents and everything really in between. Just to make it a better neighborhood, a better community and a better place for everybody to live work and play," Mr. Abbott said.

Councilman Bruce Kraus was the first speaker and updated those in attendance about the new Division 4 Public Works facility.

A ceremonial ground breaking was held on April 1 on the site of the former building for the new Division 4 campus. Construction is expected to begin sometime this summer.

The councilman said the biggest encumbrance to starting construction is the permitting process.

"The facility is going to be state-of-the-art so there are a number of permits we have to secure before we can actually begin construction, but we're hoping that will be a fairly smooth process," he said. The anticipated opening of the campus is expected before the snow season of 2021.

As background, the councilman said the former Division 4 building was an old Art Deco bakery building that had become toxic and had to be demolished in 2018. The city has allocated $2 million to construct the new Division 4 campus on the same site in Knoxville as the former building.

"It is going to be more of a campus, if you will, than a Public Works division. We want it to fit in as an integral component of the Knoxville neighborhood and not stand out as a sore thumb," Councilman Kraus said. "It is going to follow all the modern specs we do today. Making it pedestrian friendly so there's plenty of green space. There will be walk areas to walk through it. Traffic will be limited from driving through it like it used to be.

Other aspects include continuing the recycling at its current location in McKinley Park. Public Works trucks will be able to refuel in the new campus, but the salt dome will not return. The current salt dome on Rt. 51 will continue to be used and may be replaced with a new one.

Tosh Chambers, a policy analyst with the City of Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI), gave an overview of a MOVEPGH mobility hub planned for Allentown this summer.

"We're introducing a new type of shared mobility, which is an e-scooter, a standing motorized e-scooter," he said. The scooters have been in other cities and now will be introduced in Pittsburgh.

The approach to introducing them is a new concept that has garnered national attention. He explained they want to have these scooters as part of a much larger transportation strategy in the city.

The launching of the scooters will be in close coordination with the Port Authority, Scoobi electric scooters, Zip Car car sharing, Waze car pooling and a Transit app.

"We want to make getting around much easier for those who choose to lead that kind of lifestyle or may not have the means to own a car," Mr. Chambers said.

The e-scooters and the other transportation options will be included into an app to make them easy to find. Eventually you will be able to pay for the different modes of transportation within the app.

Mr. Chambers said it will be a one-stop shop for shared mobility within the city.

Mobility hubs, where you would go for several transportation options such as a Healthy Ride bike station next to a transit station or stop, already in existence in the city will be expanded. A mobility hub will be established in Allentown.

The Allentown mobility hub will be at the corner of Warrington and Allen. Mr. Chambers said there are already transit stops and a nearby Parking Authority parking lot at the location. The hub will include dedicated Scoobi parking spaces, a dock for e-scooters and a screen with real-time transit information.

He directed people to the website to learn more about the project and the different services included.

Margie Schill, communications specialist with The Brashear Association and an ACDC Board Member, said the Brashear Neighborhood Employment Center (NEC) on Warrington Avenue has reopened for in-person services. The NEC is focusing on helping people apply for the county's Rental Assistance Program and with utilities.

Siana Emery, communications coordinator and PULSE Fellow with the Hilltop Alliance, gave an update on what is happening in the Allentown Business District.

She noted Business District Manager Gordon Hall has left the Hilltop Alliance staff for a position with the Urban Redevelopment Authority and she had taken over some of the district's responsibilities.

The Allentown Business District Passport Program has started. Shoppers can pick up their Passport and collect punches to exchange for a gift certificate to a participating business. Passports are available at more than 20 businesses in the district.

They continue to promote local businesses through a video series on social media. The videos give an inside perspective on the businesses. The next video will be for La Marie Brow Club on Warrington Avenue.

The Sidewalk Side Hustle, a vendor series in the 800 block of Warrington Avenue, will feature small businesses in an outdoor setting on Fridays from noon to 3 p.m.

Bob Kress, president of the St. George Church Preservation Society, said the society's appeal to the Vatican on the closing of the church has been delayed because of COVID. Historic designation of the building was recommended by the city's Historic Review Commission, but did not receive a final vote by City Council before the Diocese of Pittsburgh filed an injunction to stop it.

Mr. Kress said their position is that if the SGCPS wins its case with the Vatican, they are willing to take over the repairs and maintenance of the building at no cost to the diocese.


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