C+S April 2020 Vol. 6 Issue 4 (web)

A Model for Future Planning In 2018, the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility Infrastruc- ture, the Urban Development Authority and Michael Baker Interna- tional embarked on the Mon-Oakland Mobility Project (so named for the Monongahela River, often referred to as “The Mon”). The Mon-Oakland Mobility Project is a part of the city’s effort to provide for a sustainable future and support revitalization. Its planning team began by hosting public meetings to gather input on what a connection might look like from the Hazelwood neighborhood, an icon of Pitts- burgh’s industrial past, to Oakland, the image of its high-tech future. The goal was to connect these two important locations via alternative and sustainable modes of transportation to provide new employment opportunities and access to medical care as well as entertainment and access to cultural and civic events for the residents of Hazelwood and neighborhoods inbetween. Because there are only a handful of routes from Pittsburgh’s riverfront communities along the Monongahela River to Oakland, and these routes are already at capacity, the City was looking to expand its connectivity options with an alternative that would complement the existing routes and offer a different experience. The result of the planning phase was the Mon-Oakland Mobility Plan, which quantified demand and connectivity access between neighbor- hoods and Oakland; explored routes and technologies to meet demand; recommended mobility facilities for design that can coincide with the Four Mile Run Green Infrastructure Project – a plan for a watershed in nearby Schenley Park; and identified the associated provisions and policies to make a new connection work. One of the solutions was a microtransit (autonomous or drivered electric powered) route that will operate continuously between the neighborhoods of Hazelwood, Greenfield, Four Mile Run, and Oakland. A separate network of bi- cycle and pedestrian routes will enable non-motorized transportation between these neighborhoods, as well as new trails with stairs to con- nect in areas with topographic constraints. A major component of this project was the weaving of the routes and The Mon-Oakland Mobility Project will rejoin the existing street network in the Oakland neighborhood. A pedestrian crossing with decorative pavers will mark the entry and slow traffic and bike lanes will be added from this point. Landscaping, trees, and benches will connect seamlessly with the pedestrianoriented environment of the adjacent Carnegie Mellon University campus.

stops within the urban context to create a vision of how each stop will enhance the community with public spaces and other amenities. The Mon-Oakland Mobility Plan is expected to be implemented by 2021, with just a two-year period for construction. City life is changing (as it always has) and planners are at the forefront of realizing the possibilities of the future. However, as we continue down the path of smart communities and new urbanism, we want to consider everyone’s voice with increasing focus on outcomes like government efficiency, sustainability, health and wellness, mobil- ity, economic development, integration of ecosystems and places to meet, quality of life and social inclusion. In an age when technology is ever evolving and making so many things possible without physical manifestation, we must keep a pulse on new developments and results, creating identity but remaining flexible enough to update plans accord- ingly and planning for today as well as tomorrow. Above all we need to recognize that today’s communities must embrace change – they need to adapt to risk and leverage opportunity. Only then can they become the resilient, sustainable and balanced communities of tomorrow. NIEK VERAART is Senior Vice President and National Practice Lead – Planning, located in Michael Baker International’s New York City office. DAVID REEL is Vice President and West Region Practice Lead – Planning at Michael Baker International’s Northern California office. Steep topography and overlapping road and rail networks pose a lot of challenges in Schenley Park and the surrounding neighborhoods, yet also provide opportunities for beautiful views and vistas. As the multimodal path crosses below the rail line, the resulting tunnel can be designed contextually to match the park’s stone aesthetic. This creates a gateway with a gathering space, lighting and landscaping to make it inviting and memorable.


csengineermag.com april 2020

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