Schenley Drive is going on a diet.
The road, which cuts through the Bob O’Connor Golf Course, will get a “skinny street” makeover as part of the upcoming Panther Hollow watershed restoration project.
Because of stormwater runoff, Panther Hollow Lake—which is at the bottom of the watershed in Schenley Park—has gone from a recreational pond to a polluted eyesore. And its plight is just one of the more visible effects of the park’s stormwater runoff problem.
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
(PPC) is implementing a number of new green infrastructure designs to improve the park’s stream and groundwater recharge health.
The “skinny street” project, which will narrow the 40-foot-wide road to approximately 26 feet, will divert more than 3 million gallons annually of runoff by introducing porous surfaces to the roadway. It is the third pilot project in the restoration project.
Through public meetings, PPC learned that many residents feel unsafe in the park because of speeding vehicles.
“We could have a really big impact by narrowing the street,” says Erin Copeland, senior restoration ecologist with PPC. “We have the opportunity to improve so many different aspects of watershed health, and recreational experience in the park.”
Adjacent to the road, infiltration berms will channel water into rain garden wetlands, and a new porous pathway for pedestrians and bicycles will run along the road, separated by a buffer of plants. This design will allow water to soak into the ground slowly and prevent erosion.
The pathway would still be paved—not crushed limestone or gravel—but the application will actually soak in water to the subsurface layer. Cyclists will still be welcome in the Schenley Drive roadway, Copeland says, where sharrows will be painted.
Designs for the “skinny street” have yet to be reviewed Department of Transportation traffic engineers. Copeland says the first two pilot projects are shovel ready and could begin as early as this summer.
PPC is completing the green infrastructure projects with support from the Department of Public Works, City Planning, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Alcosan, as well as the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and PPC volunteers.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Erin Copeland