Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Glenn A. Walsh" <email@example.com>
Subject: Pgh FEIS N Shore Connector
To: "Florence Bicchetti"
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Henry Nutbrown"
CC: "Rich Legrande" <email@example.com>, "Rich
Legrande" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "David
Wohlwill" <email@example.com>, "Marilyn
Skolnick" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Paul Skoutelas"
<email@example.com>, "Jonathan Robison"
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Ken Joseph" <email@example.com>,
"David Tessitor" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Samuel
Hurst" <email@example.com>, "Susan E.
Schruth" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Michele Destra"
<email@example.com>, "Glenn A. Walsh"
To: Henry Nutbrown, Assistant General Manager of
Engineering and Construction, Port Authority of
Florence Bicchetti, Transportation Program
Specialist, Federal Transit Administration
From: Glenn A. Walsh
Copy: David Wohlwill, Project Manager, North Shore
Connector Project, Port Authority of Allegheny County
Paul Skoutelas, Chief Executive Officer, Port
Authority of Allegheny County
Susan E. Schruth, Regional Administrator for
Region III, Federal Transit Administration
Michele Destra, Director, Office of Planning and
Program Development for Region III, Federal Transit
Marilyn Skolnick, President, Allegheny County
Richard LeGrande, Vice President, Allegheny
County Transit Council
Jonathan Robison, Allegheny County Transit
Re: Public Comments of Glenn A. Walsh regarding Final
Environmental Impact Statement of the Pittsburgh North
Shore Connector Rapid Transit Extension Project
The following are my comments regarding the Final
Environmental Impact Statement of the Port Authority
of Allegheny County's North Shore Connector Project.
1) I STRONGLY support the construction of this
project, which is desperately needed to advance public
transportation, and particularly rapid transit, in
Pittsburgh and the region.
2) I am currently involved in an effort to preserve
historic equipment and artifacts located only a few
blocks from where this alignment will be constructed.
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science,
located at Allegheny Square in Allegheny Center is a
historic 1939 building which is currently vacant.
There are plans for the Pittsburgh Children's
Museum [located across the street from Buhl
Planetarium] to expand their operation into this
building. I support this proposed expansion, provided
that historic equipment and artifacts located in the
building remain intact in the building.
In particular, the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector [now
the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the
world !] and the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor
Telescope [second largest of its unique type] should
remain in their original installation, in the Buhl
Planetarium, where they can continue to be used. As
these historic instruments were custom-built for this
building, their removal would render them useless.
Through a RFP process, the City of Pittsburgh has been
informed that a new organization, "Friends of the
Zeiss," is willing to be responsible for these
historic instruments and, if permitted, demonstrate
them for the benefit of the public.
The entire official Response, to the City of
Pittsburgh RFP regarding the historic equipment and
artifacts of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of
Popular Science, can be read at the following URL:
Once The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular
Science is again in use, for the benefit of the
public, the North Shore Connector Light Rail Transit
alignment will help bring patrons to the building.
The PNC Park Station, of this rail extension, will be
located only about four or five blocks from The Buhl
Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. Further,
a later rail extension north to Allegheny General
Hospital, or further, may include a rail station even
closer to the Buhl Planetarium building.
3) During the Draft EIS process, I testified against
the inclusion of ANY grade crossings in the proposed
North Shore Connector rail extension. I suggested that
it was ludicrous to spend several hundred million
dollars on a new rapid transit extension, just to have
automotive traffic slow down the speed of the rapid
transit line, particularly during days the one or both
North Shore stadia are in use.
I am quite pleased to see that my arguments have been
acknowledged and that all grade crossings have been
eliminated from the project.
4) In the section below titled DETAIL COMMENTS, I will
detail problems with the details of the stations and
alignments since the DEIS process. During the DEIS
process, I emphasized the need to have the maximum
convenience of the public for access to each of the
new rail stations.
One pedestrian access point, without the requirement
to interface with automotive traffic, is not enough.
There should be multiple pedestrian access points,
particularly allowing the public to avoid interfacing
with vehicular traffic when going to and from each
With only one exception [Convention Center Station] was
more than one access point provided in the plan for
rail stations proposed for construction, detailed in
And, even the Convention Center Station only provides
one additional access point for the Convention Center.
It does not provide an access point, on the other side
of Liberty Avenue, for easy access to the Penn Park
Station of the Martin Luther King East Busway or
Amtrak at the Pennsylvania Railroad Station.
This is particularly disturbing, considering that the
proposal is to REPLACE the existing Penn Park Rail
Station with the Convention Center Rail Station. Yet,
there is no easy pedestrian access to the location of
the original Penn Park Rail Station, from the new
Convention Center Rail Station!
In my DETAIL COMMENTS, I will show that additional
pedestrian access points can be included in the
construction of each of the four rail stations. In
each case, the additional pedestrian tunnel or bridge
can be built, ALONGSIDE THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE RAIL
ALIGNMENT, making the costs of the additional
pedestrian tunnel or bridge minimal, compared to the
construction costs of the adjacent rail alignment!
5) I am quite disappointed that the general public was
not privy to a lot of the detailed planning work which
went on between the time the DEIS was approved and
today. As I mentioned, I am very strongly in favor of
this project. However, there are several details [which
I will comment on below], particularly in the planning
for the stations, which I must take sharp exception
with. The public should have had an opportunity to
comment on these details PRIOR to their appearance in
6) Now that PCC cars are no longer in use in
Pittsburgh's Light Rail Transit System, there is NO
reason to ever build another two platform station.
Single platform stations would be less expensive, more
cost-effective, and allow greater flexibility to the
I also wish to note that I opposed the termination of
all service, by Port Authority PCC rail cars on
Saturday, September 4, 1999 at I continue
to disagree with this complete termination of PCC rail
car service; some way could have been found to
continue PCC service in the suburbs, or on a short
City loop. However, since PCC cars no longer run in
the Subway, there is no reason to build two-platform
I note that three of the four proposed new stations
include a single platform for travel in both
directions. I am disappointed that the Convention
Center Station was planned with two platforms. I see
no reason why this station needs two platforms and, I
oppose the plan to provide two platforms for this
station. The Convention Center Station should have one
platform for both directions.
7) Fans for air circulation, during the Summer months,
in pedestrian areas of the proposed underground
stations [Gateway Center, Convention Center, PNC Park],
should be planned into the development of these, and
all future, underground stations.
This was not considered during the construction of the
Port Authority's first three underground stations.
Consequently, large portable fans have been placed in
the subway stations, during the Summer months.
Although these portable fans do show that the Port
Authority is interested in the comfort of the riding
public, they also show a lack of planning. Further,
having portable fans on the platforms present a
potential public safety and liability problem. It is
possible that a child could place their hand into the
fan and be injured by the blade.
Hence, fans should be included in the planning of the
underground stations, to eliminate the public safety
and liability problem and not take-up space on the
platforms. I note that Washington's Metro Rail System
has found ways to integrate fans into their
underground stations, without the use of portable fans
on the platforms. Port Authority could do something
very similar for Pittsburgh subway stations.
1) Gateway Center Rail Station -- During the DEIS
process, it was my understanding that the a new
northbound-only platform station would be constructed
under Stanwix Street. The existing eastbound Gateway
Center Rail Station platform would continue to be
used. This made sense, since the Port Authority of
Allegheny County had VERY RECENTLY completed a project
to improve and enhance the entry kiosk to the existing
Gateway Center Station.
It would make no sense to spend all of that money,
then abandon the newly rebuilt kiosk. Yet, I now learn
that this is exactly what is planned!!! I totally
oppose the abandonment of the entry kiosk, next to
Four Gateway Center.
I very much approve of the plan to consolidate the
Gateway Center Rail Station into a single platform
station for both directions. Now that PCC cars are no
longer in use [although I did oppose the elimination of
all PCC cars, and I still believe that PCC cars could
have continued to be used outside of Downtown
Pittsburgh], there is no reason to construct two
platform stations. Single platform stations should be
less expensive and provide greater flexibility to the
The existing entry kiosk, at Gateway 4, should be used
to allow patrons to access the new Gateway Center Rail
Station without walking across Liberty Avenue, via a
new pedestrian tunnel. And, this new pedestrian tunnel
can be built ALONG and AT THE SAME TIME as the new
subway tunnel is constructed to reach the new Gateway
Center Station site. Hence, the additional cost would
not be great for this new pedestrian tunnel.
Further, since the new subway tunnel will pass Gateway
2, a pedestrian tunnel should also be constructed from
the new Gateway Center Station to the basement of
Gateway 2, where an existing underground pedestrian
tunnel system exists, including a major street-level
Note that this particular tunnel [and the use of the
existing street-level entry kiosk on the Penn Avenue
side of Gateway Center] was first proposed for the
construction of the original Gateway Center Subway
Station. Port Authority officials touted this
pedestrian tunnel as a major amenity of the Gateway
Center Station--similar to such tunnels built along
with the Steel Plaza Rail Station. However, funding [at
that time, private funding from Gateway Center] could
not be secured for the construction of this tunnel.
I had argued that, even without the large cost of
building this new tunnel under Liberty and Penn
Avenues, a small tunnel into the basement of Gateway 4
would, at least, have connected the Gateway Center
Subway Station with the existing Gateway Center tunnel
system [although it would have been a more circuitous
route, it was a short and inexpensive tunnel, compared
to the longer tunnel originally proposed].
Regrettably, this short tunnel also was not built.
Now, since the new subway tunnel will pass BOTH the
original Gateway Center Station kiosk and Gateway 2,
this tunnel CAN AND SHOULD be built, simply adjacent
to the subway tunnel construction!
2) PNC Park Station -- I support the construction of a
single platform station at PNC Park, for the reasons
There is planned a great deal of office, retail, and
entertainment development, between PNC Park and Heinz
Field. Hence, within five to ten years, this area of
the Lower North Side will become very busy, even when
there are no events at either Stadium. Hence,
automotive traffic will greatly increase, due to this
For that reason, and considering that West General
Robinson Street is a very wide street, there should be
at least one additional pedestrian access point to the
PNC Park Rail Station, which does not require
pedestrians to interface with automotive traffic.
Hence, there should be a pedestrian tunnel constructed
to allow an additional pedestrian access point on the
NORTH side of West General Robinson Street.
Such a pedestrian tunnel could *easily* be
constructed, while building the subway tunnel, since
the subway tunnel will cross underneath West General
Robinson Street. By constructing both tunnels at the
same time, the cost of this new pedestrian tunnel
would be minimal, compared to the cost of the
adjoining subway tunnel.
3) Allegheny Station -- I support the construction of
a single platform station at Allegheny Avenue, for the
reasons previously noted. I also approve of the plan
to eliminate the Steelers Rail Station, as the
Allegheny Station is so close.
However, there should be a pedestrian bridge which
will allow patrons to access the Allegheny Station
from the Heinz Field side of Allegheny
Avenue--particularly considering that the Steelers
Rail Station will not be constructed. Such a
pedestrian bridge will be particularly important, so
patrons can avoid the automotive traffic before and
after events at Heinz Field.
And, such a bridge could easily and inexpensively be
constructed, adjacent to the rail alignment--just as I
propose for the tunnel across Liberty and Penn Avenues
to the Gateway Center Rail Station. In both cases, the
pedestrian access tunnel or bridge, since they could
be constructed right along with the rail alignment,
would be at a small fraction of the overall cost of
the alignment construction.
4) Convention Center Station -- Why are there proposed
to be two platforms at this station??? As with the
other three stations, this should be built as a single
platform station. A single platform station would be
less expensive, more cost-effective, and would provide
greater flexibility for the traveling public.
I am happy to see one additional public access point,
on the Convention Center side of Penn Avenue, in
addition to access points from Liberty Center and the
Greyhound Bus Station.
I am VERY UNHAPPY to see that there is no public
access point planned for the Amtrak/East Busway side
of Liberty Avenue. Supposedly, this Convention Center
Rail Station is to take the place of the existing Penn
Park Rail Station, yet, no accommodations have been
made to the traveling public for people wishing to
transfer between the Convention Center Rail Station
and Amtrak trains at the Pennsylvania Railroad
Station [and, perhaps, a future Allegheny Valley
Railroad Commuter Rail Service which may use the
Pennsylvania Railroad Station as a terminus] or
between the Convention Center Rail Station and buses
on the Martin Luther King, Jr. East Busway.
This is really distressing, particularly considering
that I do not believe a strong case has been made for
eliminating the Penn Park Rail Station. Even after the
Convention Center Station is constructed, the Penn
Park Rail Station could be used for a future rail
extension along the East Busway, and the adjacent
rail car yard could be utilized for the purpose
it was built for in the mid-1980s: the storage
of rail cars, so they all do not have to return to the
South Hills Village Yard in the late morning when they
will be needed for the afternoon rush hour period.
A pedestrian tunnel, under Liberty Avenue, should be
constructed so Amtrak and East Busway patrons can
easily access the Convention Center Rail Station.
Again, such a pedestrian tunnel could follow the
construction of the subway alignment and be built at
very little additional cost.
5) Penn Park Station -- As I mentioned in the previous
section, I am very disappointed regarding the proposed
abandonment of Penn Park Station:
a) Penn Park Station was constructed specifically to
provide a pedestrian interface between the Light Rail
Transit System and other major transportation systems:
(1) Amtrak intercity passenger trains, at the
Pennsylvania Railroad Station, providing service to
(a) Chicago three times a day
(b) Cleveland twice a day
(c) Philadelphia twice a day
(d) Harrisburg twice a day
(e) New York twice a day [including transfer from
the Pennsylvanian to Northeast Corridor trains in
(f) Washington daily
(g) Regional destinations of Youngstown/Alliance,
Greensburg, Johnstown, and Altoona twice a day and
Connellsville and Cumberland MD daily.
(2) Future possibility of Allegheny Valley Railroad
Commuter Rail Service, using the Pennsylvania Railroad
Station as a terminus, to and from New Kensington,
Westmoreland County, and other locations along the
south side of the Allegheny River. A feasibility study
is underway, regarding this possible new commuter rail
(3) Express bus service along the Martin Luther King,
Jr. East Busway to and from East Liberty, Wilkinsburg,
and several other Busway stations, as well as express
bus service which is extended beyond the Busway.
Please note that a 2.3-mile extension, to the existing
6.8 mile Busway, is currently under construction and
expected to be in revenue service by the end of this
b) A yard for light rail vehicles was
constructed adjacent to Penn Park Station,
specifically, so that it would not be necessary, after
the morning rush-hour period, to transport all of the
light rail cars back to the main yard next to South
Hills Village in Upper Saint Clair. With this
yard, a large percentage of the rail cars only needed
during the rush-hour periods could remain Downtown,
thus saving energy and wear-and-tear on the vehicles.
Further, considering that the Port Authority Police
Station is located adjacent to this yard [in the
four-floor former Pitt Tower of the Pennsylvania
Railroad], security of the rail cars Downtown would
not be a concern!
I am EXTREMELY disappointed that this rail car
yard was NEVER used for its intended purpose!!! It is
still there. It can still be used for its intended
purpose. And, with the recent financial problems being
suffered by the Port Authority, leaving the rail cars
Downtown during the day could help reduce operational
costs of the Light Rail Transit System.
Hence, I am asking that, when designing the alignment
from Steel Plaza to the Convention Center Rail
Station, every effort be made so that nothing is done
to preclude a continued light rail connection to the
existing Penn Park Rail Station. AND, UNDER NO
CICUMSTANCES, should the Penn Park Rail Station, or
adjacent rail car yard, be dismantled. They
should remain intact, for the possibility of use in
Glenn A. Walsh - Electronic Mail:
Author of History Web Sites on Internet-
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
* Astronomer John Brashear:
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
* Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh: http://www.incline.cc
Glenn A. Walsh
Electronic Mail - < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
< http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
< http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer & Optician John A. Brashear:
< http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
< http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
< http://www.incline.cc >