The Allegheny River Green Boulevard
is beginning to take shape. At last week's public meeting, project leaders unveiled specific information about the corridor's future, including a detailed six-mile bicycle/pedestrian path alignment.
The uninterrupted bicycle path is set to run along Allegheny Valley Railroad's freight corridor between Lawrenceville and the Strip.
But while AVR continues to pursue commuter rail service in this area, Green Boulevard leaders want to move some aspects of the project forward sooner rather than later.
"We'd love to see new transit options in there, but we also want to move some elements of the plan forward before that," says Lena Andrews, URA senior planning specialist. "We don’t want to wait for that to happen."
At the meeting, consultants presented test scenarios for Lawrenceville's 43rd Street master plan, which included passive recreation space along the river between 43rd and 48th Streets and a mix of riverfront townhomes and multi-unit buildings.
In the Strip District, consultants recommend future developments to include a 95-foot setback from the river.
Andrews says community members in attendance were supportive of the boulevard project, particularly for the bicycle/pedestrian trail and commuter rail options, but also were eager to see improvements in storm water infrastructure.
Possible funding sources for the project were discussed, and included special assessment districts, tax increment financing, corporate sponsorship, and contributions from foundations.
Andrews says another possibility for making the project financially feasible is to reduce the development's parking requirement.
A reduced parking requirement should make sense for the Green Boulevard. One of the project’s goals is to reduce the city’s dependence on automobiles by increasing transit options and by providing a safe and direct bicycle corridor.
"It makes a huge amount of sense, and that's the point of building all this new infrastructure…to enable people to live a little less dependently on the automobile,” Andrews says. “To have a district where the parking requirement is a little bit lower, that not only has benefits for the environment but it makes it cheaper to build, too."
The last public forum will be held later this year in November.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Lena Andrews, URA