Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

What Can 21st-Century Transit Do for the Run?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

What Can 21st-Century Transit Do for the Run?

Article excerpt

Ray Gerard and I walked nearly a mile and a half along the railroad tracks, just as he had when he was a boy growing up in the quiet slice of Greenfield known as "The Run," to see how the city might construct a special transit corridor linking the Oakland campuses with a 178-acre Hazelwood development site.

We were trespassing but, sometimes, it's better to ask forgiveness than seek permission. We were working on the same puzzle the city has before it, which is how to build a limited-access roadway in Junction Hollow while enhancing, not harming, the quality of life for people who live in the neighborhoods at either end: Panther Hollow and The Run.

The Run is officially "Four Mile Run," but as Mr. Gerard said, "You look at a map and there are no people on the maps." To grasp a new line on your map, walk the community.

A freelance photographer who loves his neighborhood, Mr. Gerard, 55, has been a forthright critic of this project. The city is trying to manufacture consent with an "aura of inevitability," he said, but is essentially asking, "How we gonna fit a size 13 foot in a size 9 shoe?"

I'm not as skeptical. The Panther Hollow stretch looks doable. Even allowing for 25 to 50 feet of right of way that CSX claims to each side of the twin tracks' midpoint, there appears to be room for a 24-foot-wide roadway on the western side. Those tracks, where eight trains already run daily, are shielded by trees behind a parking lot across from the residences on Boundary Street.

If CSX sees the stretch the same way, there may be no harm, no foul, for the northern end of the transit run between Carnegie Mellon University and whatever high-tech jobs come to Hazelwood. Any shuttle buses should be able to stay largely out of sight and sound from residents to the west.

It gets trickier farther south as those tracks skirt The Run. Planning Director Ray Gastil nonetheless believes the city can parlay the "green" project planned for Schenley Park water diversion with this transit connection. That water piece is way overdue; anyone in The Run can tell you about its floods. …

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