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mercurypa

Strip Redevelopment

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The Cork Factory is a pivotal piece of the residential development of the strip. Now they are getting more money to help with parking and a possible river trail connection to help make it clean and green! I think this area is poised as a great neighborhood and an extension of the downtown boom.

http://www.popcitymedia.com/developmentnews/cork0405.aspx

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The stars must be aligning for Pittsburgh, that cork factory was the one mega project no one could ever get off the ground, now that they are adding the bonus of a river trail (very important) and other amenities it is even more special to the city!

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The Cork Factory will more than double (or triple) the current residential population of the Strip District... which stands at a paltry 275 according to the latest Census.

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Is it that low? :( Yes more then the population increase it will prove that the inner city areas like the strip have made the transition from a great place to hang out or party to a home to thousands of tax paying young professionals. Taxbase, it's all about increasing the assets in the taxbase!

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There isn't much housing in the Strip as it is... other than a few scattered isolated rowhouses in varying conditions. The Cork Factory will radically transform the dynamic of the neighborhood... and increase the vitality of the entire city core. Maybe we could build some sleek new riverfront condo towers on that Buncher parking desert next.

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The Strip needs light rail. Look at the HUGE parking garage they are having to build as part of the Cork Factory project. If LRT was involved, the strip would be much more of an extention of downtown than in is now.

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It would be so simple to extend that rushhour T line to Penn Park (or is it Penn Station) along the strip and to Lawrenceville/Bloomfield. Compared to the routes being considered in other areas of the metro I would see a line along Penn Avenue for 30-50 blocks seems very economical.

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I second the motion for light rail to Bloomfield. There must be tracks buried underneath somewhere. Mr. Onorato where are you?

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It would be so simple to extend that rushhour T line to Penn Park (or is it Penn Station) along the strip and to Lawrenceville/Bloomfield. Compared to the routes being considered in other areas of the metro I would see a line along Penn Avenue for 30-50 blocks seems very economical.

It wouldn't be economical unless tehy can also extend it to Oakland. The Strip or even Bloomfield, by themselves, are not populous enough to jsutify the millions that will have to be spent to even lay track on the East Busway. Also, its unlikely federal funding will be available since this route basically parallels the East Busway. THis is why I think, despite all the talk, no true extension to Oakland has ever seriously been on the books. Teh Federal govt. will see such an extension as being superfluous and will not fund it.

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There could be a feasable plan to put an underground line through the strip. If they turned Railroad Street (near the Cork Building) into a grand "urban boulevard" they could divert traffic off of Smallman. Then Smallman could be used to dig a trench, block by block, and cover the line with less traffic disruption through the strip. Digging up Penn Avenue in the Strip would be a major disruption for business there. The line could continue under Penn Avenue around 40th Street through Lawrenceville. After Lawrenceville it would join the rail lines to Highland Park and the Zoo. Then beyond up the Allegheny Valley to Oakmont or turn into Penn Hills and connect to Monroeville/rt 22.

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I don't even know if it needs to go underground. Or go as deep as Bloomfield yet (eventualy that'd be nice). They could bring a line up from underground in front of the history center and run if for a couple blocks at grade. Add just two or three stations and run smaller cars like Philly has done.

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It wouldn't be economical unless tehy can also extend it to Oakland. The Strip or even Bloomfield, by themselves, are not populous enough to jsutify the millions that will have to be spent to even lay track on the East Busway. Also, its unlikely federal funding will be available since this route basically parallels the East Busway. THis is why I think, despite all the talk, no true extension to Oakland has ever seriously been on the books. Teh Federal govt. will see such an extension as being superfluous and will not fund it.

Agreed as far as making a profit or being in the black you need that Oakland populus to use it coming down Craig Street or so.

This is the miracle though . . . transit doesn't have to be profitable or even break even, it also doesn't matter if it is redundunt with existing transit . . . what really matters is if your local congressman calls in a favor or not (see Kennedy on the "big dig" or Ted Stevens on the "bridge to nowhere" or any of Bud Shusters projects).

Man I really should run for congress and just sit on transportation and infrastrucutre for a few decades. lol

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Agreed as far as making a profit or being in the black you need that Oakland populus to use it coming down Craig Street or so.

This is the miracle though . . . transit doesn't have to be profitable or even break even, it also doesn't matter if it is redundunt with existing transit . . . what really matters is if your local congressman calls in a favor or not (see Kennedy on the "big dig" or Ted Stevens on the "bridge to nowhere" or any of Bud Shusters projects).

Man I really should run for congress and just sit on transportation and infrastrucutre for a few decades. lol

I think more extreme is the fact that Atlanta was abel to get federal dolalrs to build its MARTA system (a much larger and more advanced system than the T) back in the 60's and 70's when the Atlanta area was smaller than the Pittsburgh area (and before it became apaprent that Pittsburgh's metro population would go into long tem decline). Maybe they made a decent case that Atlanta was priemd for heavy growth (which did happen).

Another case is how Baltimore got money for its subway (again, a much mroe advanced and extensive line) back in the 70's and 80's when it was no bigger (in metro area pop) than Pittsburgh and its economy was also in decline. Tehn they got money for a light rail system on top of that.

I guess Pittsburgh's politicians have been asleep at the wheel - or at the very least unimaginative. they seem to constnatly be selling the area short - initially settling for a Skybus people mover instead of a true Metro (granted, Westinghouse had much to do with taht, but still...). Then promoting busways instead of a more extensive light rail system.

In actuality, busways probably make mroe sense since they are allow for a more modular flow of traffic whereas light rail is fixed. However, for whatever reason, busses don't have the same cachet as rail. You see development at rail stations, not at bus stations. The problem is, I think building the MLK and West busways basically foreclosed anye xtension of the T to the west or east since the federal government will see that as a redundancy.

As for the existing T, well tis poorly planned. The Overbrook Line is good but the Beechview is a joke. Its basically an updated trolley, making all the stops an old time trolley would. I don't blame PAT for this though. Rather, it was the residents along the route who did not want to give up the convenience of having their neighborhood stop. The problem was that once you satisfy all these residents, the T ends up making too many stops and tehn NO ONE is satisfied. With Overbrook, PAT managed to escape that fiasco beacuse the line was shut down for over 10 years before they reopened it so people had alrady gotten used to new commuting patterns.

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^^interesting that you bring up the corporate angle. Politicians for the last 20 years or so have just been WEAK on transportation issues, no excuse there, but back in the day (60's, 70's, 80's) when the Lawrences and RK Mellon's were national party kingmakers in politics (R Mellon-Scaife still thinks he is) Pittsburgh was a "company town" in so many aspects. "The company" was the Mellon interests which back before the late 80's counted oil as their #1 investment. Similar to Houston and Los Angeles (not too many people realize that Cali oil companys control large chunks of that state) Pittsburgh killed off its thriving trolley system (the envy of the world?) for Westinghouse's skybus and Gulf Oil/Mellon's busways and parkways. Just as in Houston, LA and Dallas' case the money in those metros were behind ever increasing interstates and bus transportation. I think the inconoclastic nature of Sen. Heinz and some of the reaction to the rapid progress of the first Ren led to a slowing of several interstate projects in the area, though it was in the time of Gulf Oil and Mellon money that the Mon-Fay, Southern beltway and Parkway North all started rolling (and like any political snowball once it starts politicans are obligated to finish the initial investments even if its 20 years later), heck Pittsburgh was the first area in the country to get a true interstate in the Pa. Turnpike--and Gulf Oil through Mellon an exclusive contract to service the route.

A great example of this is how on the southeast side of Kennywood (at least it used to be there) is a dreamworld for kids with the Kennywood turnpike where the miracles of individual motorized transportation is engrained at an early age, complete with a mock up Gulf Oil station! Made you love the smell of gasoline as a kid and made you want to buy into the whole Mellon oil infrastructure even more.

Isn't it ironic that Kennywood started as a Mellon ploy to reap profits from their extensive trolley enterprises at the turn of the last century . . . then when they saw their Gulf Oil investment take off Mellon (with the help of GM--which Andrew Mellon basically founded!) killed off every trolley in the area and throughout the country.

Can't wait till they buy the Pirates, at least we could get something back for all our loyalty to those guys.

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I do think an on-grade line along Smallman through the Strip would work. It is one of the few areas just outside of downtown where it think it would work, though not the ideal. It would emphasize the unique nature of the strip and prompt new and perhaps unusual development there. It would be a novelty and probably promote tourism. It would be great if one of the more popular existing South Hills on-grade lines would continue through the Strip. It would better connect the region and have some consistency.

It was strange that when I was in San Francisco they use the very same trolley cars that used to be here. I wonder if they are the same cars.

PennAvenueTrolley60s.jpg

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I don't think they are Pittsburgh's cars, but I do think the trolley manufacturer on some of theirs might be the same.

Seeing those pics reminds me of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood . . . too bad for people in my generation (late 20s) that only have that TV show as a reference to how metro Pittsburgh was once blanketed by dense networks of trolleys.

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It was strange that when I was in San Francisco they use the very same trolley cars that used to be here. I wonder if they are the same cars.

PennAvenueTrolley60s.jpg

I don't think any of the ones in San Francisco were former Pittsburgh cars. Many of them were former Philadelphia cars.

FYI - these cars are called PCC (President's Conference Committee) cars and were designed when the presidents of various transit operators gatehred together in the 1930's to design a new generation of streetcars. These came out in the 1930's (the deisgn was somewhat different back then from the 1940's ones like the one shown in your above picture and the ones SF still operates). Pittsburgh railways had the biggest order (eventually operating a fleet of 666 PCC cars). THe original ones (from the 30's) were ones I cosnder more handsome since they didn't have that extra row of standee windows or that huge hump. Also, the windsheild was more flush with the front, thus giivng a more stream-lined look. In any event, in the 1940s the 2nd generation PCC came out and these were the more ungainly ones that you can still see in SF. I think the next redesign came in the 50's or 60's but by taht time the PCC was no longer being made in the US but instead being made exclusively in Eastern Europe (PCC technology was licensed to the Czech Republic and Poland). You can see this third generation of PCC still operating in Eastern Europe.

PCCs, by the way, were not standard. They looked standard but each operator had their own caveats. For example, Kansas City didn't like the look of the 2nd generation (1940's) PCC and specified that the manufacturer not include the standee windows. Also, there were two manufacturers in the US - the St. Louis Car Company (which made the oens for Pittsburgh), and Pullman Standard (which made some for other cities). The Pullman ones were not consdiered as good as the St. Louis ones and thus were rarer and you'll hardly find any still in operation. The Canadians made their own PCCs under agreement with the St. Louis Car Company and thus the PCCs that you used to see in Toronto (which sometimes still get wheeled out for tourists) are slightly different from those in the US.

In addition to teh above, there were some comanies which were ot licensed to build PCCs but which built cars that were very similar. DC used to run these cars (I believe made by the Budd Company).

As for cities still running PCCs in actual revenue service in the US, I think we're left with just San Francisco and Philadelphia. SF's line is really a re-institution of street car service in dwontown SF since they had origianlyl been pulled from street-level service in 1980 when they were rerouted into the subway and repalced with newer cars. San Franciscans eventualyl missed the old streetcars and the street running nature of them and so the streetcars were broguth abck for the sumemr toruist season usign retired and restores streetcars from other cities (primarily Philadelphia). Then, in the late 90's, they became a permanent feature.

In Philadelphia, you'll also see completely renovated PCCs running on Route 15. Unlike SF, this service is not for toursits but a regular service. PCCs were originally pulled from Philadelphia service in 1992 and the intent was to replace them with newer cars. However, because money was tight, it was decided instead to completely overhaul existing PCCs and place them back in service on Route 15 (a testament to the durability of the old design). These cares are also beautifully restored and painted in their original 1940's livery but incldue modern features such as wheelchair ramps, new seats, and AC.

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I heard from a valuable source at Neighborhoods in the Strip that the Public Market plan, which has already raised federal and state money is being blocked by the owners of PENN-MAC, Enricos, and the Wholey Market, because they are afraid of competition. I don't understand why they would be intimidated. They have plenty of local following, and the new market would only attract more people to the strip, and benefit the new residents. Part of the plan is also to improve much of the streetscape. How could this be a losing situation for anyone. Once again its fear of change by the old guard that prevents things from happening in the burgh.

Perhaps these business owners will present a plan on how to improve the streetscape and attractions of the new strip? I doubt it.

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All those people are on the board of neighbors in the strip...which is the group doing the market. It seams logical to me that all the parties who stand to gain or loose would be involved in the planning process.

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It is not logical to me that anyone would turn down development money to convert a partially abandoned dinosaur of a building into a thriving international marketplace that this city deserves.

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Why is it always so easy for a handful of people to block something like this, yet impossible for thousands of people to block something like the Mon-fay? -_-

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...maybe because thousands more want access to the city from Mckeesport and Duquesne.... :whistling:

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It is not logical to me that anyone would turn down development money to convert a partially abandoned dinosaur of a building into a thriving international marketplace that this city deserves.

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Sorry to hear that tooluther... you know there is only a few of us in the entire Internet that post here....

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...maybe because thousands more want access to the city from Mckeesport and Duquesne.... :whistling:

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