Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

In These 'Tranquil' City Hollows, Voices Rise

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

In These 'Tranquil' City Hollows, Voices Rise

Article excerpt

There is nothing older than yesterday's newspaper.

That's an old saying in more than one language, but there is something even older: a government report. Generally, they get churned out only so politicians have something for their shelves. They don't want their offices looking barren. That could screw up the next photo op.

So I was stunned when Chris Zurawsky of Squirrel Hill told me he'd gone to the Pennsylvania Room of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to find the city's 2001 master development plan for Hazelwood and Junction Hollow. I mean who does that?

Mr. Zurawsky, vice president of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, was seeking historic context for ongoing arguments about a driverless shuttle service planned for the roughly two-mile stretch between the Oakland campuses and the sprawling Hazelwood Green development. That's where Uber has a test track.

I'd written last Sunday that this story has taken plenty of twists and turns these past couple of years, and Mr. Zurawsky suggested I ride that hypothetical road back further. In 2001, participants in a day-long workshop unanimously endorsed the idea of using light rail to connect the Hazelwood site to Oakland, following the railroad line that's already running eight trains a day.

Participants unanimously rejected a new full-access roadway, even if it had a strong pedestrian element, but unanimously supported a busway. Then, as now, there should be "a desire to retain the tranquil setting in the hollow" and improve connections to Schenley Park.

Now here's the funny quote in the study: "This process has ensured [emphasis mine] ... that the kinds of development and transit connections being considered will be sensitive to the quiet natural setting of the neighborhoods in and near Junction Hollow, including Boundary Street and Four Mile Run."

Nothing is ever ensured by a non-binding report. Residents of Four Mile Run, the quiet slice of Greenfield astride the planned route, know that and so do those living in even smaller and quieter Panther Hollow.

Let me pause here to address those readers who inevitably tell me I should be calling that latter neighborhood "Junction Hollow," despite what residents have called their neighborhood for more than a century. …

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