Statement Before the Board of the                                 Glenn A. Walsh

    Port Authority of Allegheny County                                 P.O. Box 1041

Regarding Enhanced Pedestrian Access to                          Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041

    the New Wilkinsburg Busway Station                              Telephone:  412-561-7876

                        2003 January 24                                                                   E-Mail: < >

                                                                                                                                Web Site: < >


Good morning. I am Glenn A. Walsh and I reside at 633 Royce


Avenue in Mount Lebanon. I am a regular user of Port Authority


Transit, particularly the Light Rail Transit System. I do not own or


operate an automobile.


A year ago, I addressed the Port Authority Board’s Engineering


and Construction Committee regarding the need for enhanced


pedestrian access to the new Wilkinsburg Busway Station, particularly


considering that a staircase and ramp for the disabled already existed to


implement this. At the conclusion of my statement, Port Authority Chief


Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas stated that the staff would consider my


comments and come back to the Committee with a recommendation.


This did not happen!


In July, I attended a meeting at the Wilkinsburg Station site,


specifically so that I could explain my proposal to Henry Nutbrown. It


was my understanding that I would be notified when Mr. Nutbrown had


formulated a recommendation, as he had made no determination at that


time. I was never notified of any recommendation!


At a Planning Committee meeting of the Allegheny County


Transit Council, in November, I learned that a decision had been made


to implement the original staff proposal, and that this decision was


already being implemented. This week, Neal Holmes and Jason Finke


contacted me to apologize for any lack of communication.


However, I do feel that I was purposely not notified of this


decision by the staff. Apparently, the thought was that once the staff


recommendation was built, I could no longer argue for my proposal.


Well, I am here today to argue, again, for my proposal. The


implementation of the staff’s preferred alternative does not necessarily


preclude the implementation of my proposal. I am not asking for a


multi-million dollar project.


I am simply asking for the construction of a sidewalk, from the


site of the original Wilkinsburg inbound platform to the new inbound


platform, which will allow renewed use of the original large staircase


and wheelchair ramp.


This sidewalk would run between the mainline busway and along


the western edge of a bus layover area. Hence, a barrier along this


section of sidewalk may be appropriate. But, I do want to point-out that


a pedestrian sidewalk did exist on the southeastern edge of this bus


layover area, for twenty years, with no barrier!


This additional sidewalk would provide easy and more direct


access between the newly relocated Busway station and the Wilkinsburg


business district, without the necessity of crossing busy Penn Avenue.


The staff alternative sidewalk is very round-about and far fewer people


will actually use it. Instead of being inconvenienced by walking further,


many people will simply run across Penn Avenue, illegally.


For people originating east and south of Wilkinsburg’s


Pennsylvania Railroad Station, my proposal provides a “straight shot,”


using the existing wheelchair ramp, to access the new Busway station


without crossing busy Penn Avenue. In fact, it is such a logical and


direct route that many people will use this walkway and not even


contemplate running illegally across Penn Avenue.


And, this will allow wheelchair patrons, originating on the south


side of Penn Avenue, to access the new Wilkinsburg Station without


crossing busy Penn Avenue, which is not currently possible.


The Port Authority staff has argued that this sidewalk would be


dangerous, because it would require people to cross two driveways into


a bus layover area. Crossing these two bus driveways, which have


limited traffic, is much safer than crossing busy Penn Avenue—legally


or illegally!


Further, if crossing these two bus driveways is deemed unsafe,


then, under the same rationale, you will need to eliminate all pedestrian


at-grade crossings of the mainline Busway, which are much more




One of the staff’s objections to my proposal was that openings in a


sidewalk barrier, at the two bus driveways, would allow pedestrians to


access the mainline busway, perhaps as a short-cut to the outbound


platform. I was told that a barrier along the staff’s preferred option


would prevent such short-cuts.


Well, now that the staff’s preferred alternative has been built, we


can see that this walkway is not as advertised! Halfway between the


original and new outbound platforms is an opening in the barrier, to


allow Norfolk-Southern access to railroad property.


In addition to safety, there is another reason to implement my


proposal: added convenience to the potential transit rider, which will


attract more people to Port Authority services.


At the present time, the Steel Plaza Subway Station and the East


Liberty Busway Station are the only two stations in the Port Authority


system, which include several dedicated pedestrian walkways and access


points. All other stations do not have as convenient access and are not as


attractive to potential riders. One way to attract new riders would be to


provide additional dedicated pedestrian walkways and access points to


every transit station. And, any new station constructed, such as for the


North Shore Connector, should definitely include additional dedicated


pedestrian walkways and access points.


My proposal provides an extremely inexpensive way to provide


additional pedestrian access to the Wilkinsburg Station, which people


will actually use! Let me also note that on Wednesday evening, by a


unanimous vote, Wilkinsburg Borough Council passed a resolution


supporting the construction of this sidewalk; you should receive a letter


from Wilkinsburg Borough in the next few days.


So, I ask that the Board of Directors of the Port Authority of


Allegheny County direct the staff to build this sidewalk.


Thank you.