Utility Siloes Part 2

 

20180624_080041 (2)

Dismantling in progress (6/24/2018)

 

After continued observations, I need to modify some of my assumptions in the post Utility Siloes.  It turns out that the existence of the other utility wires attached to the poles does not prevent the old poles from being removed.  Instead, weeks after a new utility pole is installed, the remainder of the deteriorated pole is removed except for the chunk where the other wires are attached.

 

20180624_080058 (2)

Close-up of the dismantling (6/24/2018)

Perhaps the crew that removes poles is different than the crew that installs them.  Although, the installation team is able to lob off the top of the old pole after they transfer the wires to the new one.  Why then can’t they dismantle the rest of the pole at the same time?  And in the case of constricted locations, such as the feature of these posts, why can’t they located the new pole in the same location as the old one?

 

20180630_093623 (2)

Dismantling Complete (6/30/2018)

 

 

20180630_095652 (2)

View of another dismantled pole, the remaining chunk is secured to the new pole by a rope.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Utility Silos

20180421_133652 - Copy

The obstruction from utility silos

This spring, the electric company went around my neighborhood installing replacement utility poles where the existing ones were on their last leg.  Watching them do this for a pole just down the street from me, I drew some conclusions about the interaction between the various companies that supply the different technologies available at our fingertips.  The electrical company owns the poles and the electric wire, but other companies own the other fiber optics and cables that use the poles.  The electric company installs new poles when the existing ones are deteriorated.  Once installed, they transfer the electric lines to the new pole.  The old pole is left with all the other lines in place, until the companies that own the rest of the lines transfer them to the new pole.

This arrangement seemed relatively harmless as I watched it in action near my house, but then I found the example above.  In this case, the rigidity of the silos and jurisdictions of the various companies created a physical barrier in the neighborhood that will likely be in place for the next 35 years or so, until the pole is ready to be replaced.  This is in direct contradiction to the City’s initiatives for greater accessibility illustrated by the sidewalk curb ramps installed within the last year at the intersections on either side of this pole.

20180421_133736 - Copy

Close-up showing the curb, the old pole, the new pole, the foot of sidewalk left, and the combined driveways

The choices were limited for siting this new utility pole.  There are driveway curb cuts immediately adjacent on either side.  Therefore, to place the new pole in line with the existing poles would have partially blocked someone’s driveway.  Apparently, the silos are so entrenched that even under unusual circumstances such as these the various companies cannot work together so that a new pole can be placed in the exact same spot as the old pole.  The sidewalk that was already narrow and could not accommodate the recommended 5-foot clearance around obstructions is now nearly impassible and requires pedestrians to cross partially on the driveways.

I do not know if anyone paused before installing this new utility pole to ask if there was a different or better way to approach the situation.  From my experiences at my office in trying to work with others to design an approach that looks at the organization as a whole while still respecting and acknowledging each area of expertise and specialization, it is difficult to get all parties at the table to apply creative thinking and openness to how we can approach our work.  No doubt, even if someone was able to get all relevant parties involved in this utility pole to the table, they would have encountered similar challenges.

20180421_133844 - Copy

Evidence that the old poles eventually get removed and an example of where a new pole was placed next to the old along side the curb

Brooklyn Bridge

119 (1024x768)

Yesterday, as I was writing my post about the Wheeling Suspension Bridge by Roebling’s competitor, I was fascinated to discover that I never wrote a post about my walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I decided to rectify the situation. The more I worked on it; the more fascinated I became. At this point, nearly 5 years after having walked it, all I can surmise is that I must have been very tired and/or hungry while crossing it.

In my post on the Manhattan Bridge, I mention how much more I liked that bridge than the Brooklyn Bridge. I can remember how much more thought provoking I found the Manhattan Bridge, but in looking back at my photos, I am shocked at how uninspiring I found the Brooklyn Bridge. I think it may hold the record for the fewest number of photos I’ve taken of any of the bridges I have walked. Especially, if we look at number of photos versus the length of the bridge. I suppose there may have been some other factors such as the construction zone on parts of the bridge.

144 (1024x768)

Another factor may have been the fact that the walkway is in the center of the bridge and above level of the traffic. While I remember this as a highlight and an intriguing part of the bridge, I also seem to recall that it may have caused interference with framing any potential photos.

156 (768x1024)

I will take back some of my comments on the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. While both bridges do have a lot of structural parts holding them up, those of the Wheeling bridge were much more fascinating. This may in part have been because you were able to get up close with them.

Below are the views of the surroundings. On one side you have the Manhattan Bridge and on the other the Statue of Liberty. That is just about the extent of the photos I took from the Brooklyn Bridge.

154 (1024x768)

166 (1024x768)

I feel that I ought to give this bridge a second chance. If/when I ever make it back to New York City, I think I will have to walk it again (maybe after a good meal). The problem here is that my last trip there in 2012 when I first walked the bridge confirmed for me that New York is really not the city for me and I have no plans to make a trip back anytime soon.

 

Heth’s Run Bridge: Redux

Heth’s Run Bridge, the first bridge I posted about in my Pittsburgh bridges project, is scheduled to be replaced by the end of next year.  The notice to proceed was expected to be issued last week with construction beginning on Sept. 24 with the installation of a temporary road around the bridge, through the zoo’s parking lot.  According to the schedule that was passed out at a community meeting at the end of August, the bridge is expected to close with all car traffic being diverted to the temporary road on Nov. 1st.  Due to the turning radius constraints with the temporary road, trucks will not be permitted and will instead be by way of the Highland Park Bridge, Route 28 and the 62nd Street Bridge.  If all goes according to schedule the bridge should reopen to all traffic on October 1, 2014.  Additional road work will continue through October.  After final inspections, the project is expected to be officially completed by December 8, 2014.

Heth's Run Bridge's hazardous sidewalk

This is a PennDOT project expected to cost over $18.5 million and is definitely needed.  As I discuss in my Heth’s Run Bridge Part II and Highland Park Bridge posts, the sidewalks here are in desperate need of repair and the proportion of sidewalk to road across the bridge is at least 50 years out of date.  All this is going to be addressed in the reconstruction.  The new bridge is going to have two lanes in each direction to match the roadway on either end.  Additional features of the new bridge will be decorative railing, period lighting, entrance pylons, and “architectural features on the abutments with form liners” (which I believe refers to new urns).  At the community meeting, it was mentioned that the current urns will be saved and kept in a warehouse until a new home is found for them.

In addition to the bridge, about 870 feet of Butler Street are going to be reconstructed including sidewalks.  My understanding is that this is the part of Butler from the Heth’s Run Bridge to the ramps of the Highland Park Bridge, which should take care of my complaints about the condition of the sidewalk for those of us trying to cross the Highland Park Bridge without a car.  This should also clear up the confusion for the outbound traffic of whether this part of the road is one lane or two as the plans include removing the “kink” from the existing alignment.

New signals and ADA ramps will be installed at the intersections of Butler with One Wild Place and with Baker Streets.

Another major part of the project is the excavation under the bridge to an elevation of 762.  According to GoogleEarth, the bridge is at an elevation of 800 ft. I’m not sure if this will restore the bridge to its exact historic height, but it will be close (see the photo of the previous bridge from 1912).  This will also pave the way for connecting this area to the proposed Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard project.

This project will no doubt cause some inconveniences during the construction process, but the construction of the temporary road will significantly cut down on this even though it adds over a month to the process.  Imagine instead, everyone having to go on the truck detour or all the Zoo traffic coming down Morningside Ave and Baker Street instead of One Wild Place and Butler Street.  That would be a true nightmare.  Thank you, PennDOT and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium for the temporary road.  Thank you, PennDOT and any other funders, Sen. Jim Ferlo, Rep. Dom Costa, and anyone else who had a hand in helping bring about this long overdue project.

I can’t wait to walk over the new bridge when it’s finished!

More information about the project including the design of the temporary road can be found here: http://morningside-pa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/hethsrunbridge.pdf

Safety while Traipsing

The Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, a non-profit community development organization in Pittsburgh, is raising funds to buy back guns.  The goal is to get unwanted guns out of the community where they may be stolen and used in a crime or found by a child and played with, causing injury and death.

In the process of raising funds and talking with different people, it’s become clear that not all guns are bad.  Some guns are very useful such as soldering guns, caulking guns, staple guns, salad shooters, glue guns, nail guns, heat guns, cookie guns, water guns, and cameras (which shoot).  Check out the links for each of these guns to see how they can improve communities (more links will be added over the next few weeks).

As an urban traisper, it is important to feel safe as I walk around exploring the city.  I have chosen not to walk the bridges in certain neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, because of safety concerns.  I was excited when I joined the staff of the BGC to hear that they were working on planning a gun buyback to reduce the chances of gun violence in their neighborhoods.  Maybe our work will make a small difference and help lead to broader changes that will improve the safety of the currently troubled areas or those perceived as troubled.

For more about the Gun Buyback Initiative, check out our Razoo page.  While you’re there, please consider giving a donation.  We hope to reach at least $15,000 by August 31.  Thank you!

Pedestrian Bridges: Chicago

BP Bridge

There are two pedestrian bridges connecting to Millennium Park in Chicago.  The first I encountered was the BP Bridge.  I admired the undulating silver sculpture above as I walked past and was thrilled to discover it was a pedestrian bridge.  My excited was quickly crushed as the bridge was closed to traffic due to construction at the other end.  I realized that I have become quite addicted to bridge-walking.  I was on my way to see The Bean before renting a bike to ride along the lake, when seeing this bridge completely sidetracked me.  I had a desperate urge to walk a bridge.  Fortunately, there was another pedestrian bridge nearby and while it was not nearly as enticing, it had some interesting parts.

BP Bridge The Nichols Bridgeway

The Nichols Bridgeway connects Millennium Park with the Art Institute of Chicago.  Both ends had space-age-like toughs, which I assumed were supposed to be a fancy drainage system.  If their purpose is a drainage system, the upper end by the Institute has failed and been turned into a wishing well.

Lower Trough Upper Trough/Wishing Well

The part I liked best about this bridge was that while it looked like the surface was level, there were ridges or “speed-bumps” every few feet.  I wondered if these were merely artistic or if they had a functional value like reducing the slipperiness of the bridge during icy conditions.

Bumpy Walkway The Nichols Bridgeway

Manhattan Bridge: A Multimodal Link

The Manhattan Bridge

When I was planning my walk across the Brooklyn Bridge while in New York City last December, I noticed there was a bridge nearby called the Manhattan Bridge.  I decided to cross to Brooklyn by the Manhattan Bridge and return to Manhattan by the Brooklyn Bridge.  The Manhattan Bridge ended up being the more interesting of the two bridges.

Gateway to the Manhattan Bridge

I found my way from the subway stop to the Manhattan Bridge by following the way-finding signs for the bike lanes in the Lower East End.   This brought me to the left side of the bridge, where I was temporarily upset to see that pedestrians were not permitted to use the sidewalk on that side of the bridge–it was dedicated to two-way bicycle traffic.  I was concerned that I was not going to be able to walk across this bridge and instead would have to cross the Brooklyn Bridge twice (I try to avoid walking across a bridge just to walk back across it; doing so gives me a sense of pointlessness).  Luckily, there are sidewalks on both sides of this bridge (from walking Pittsburgh bridges I know not to assume that bridges have sidewalks on two sides) and the sidewalk on the right side is dedicated to pedestrians.

I suggest that NYC puts up a sign on the bicycle side to direct pedestrians to the other side, which might help encourage pedestrians to follow the traffic directions set up on this bridge–I watched a pedestrian ignore the bicycle-only signs to cross the bridge on the bike lanes.

The Pedestrian Side

This bridge is the most multimodal bridge I have walked with the bike lanes on one side, pedestrian way on the other, and the subway and roadway in between.  While I approve of this welcoming of alternative transportation methods, I am not sure about placing the pedestrians next to the subway tracks.  This does give a barrier between the pedestrians and the noise of the cars, but instead, the pedestrians have to deal with the noise of the subway, which while it is less constant than the cars, it is a little more startling/disturbing.

The Manhattan Side The Brooklyn Bridge

The neighborhoods the Manhattan Bridge links had some similar physical elements, but are clearly used by different populations.  The populations on both the Manhattan and Brooklyn sides use their rooftops, but for different purposes.  On the Manhattan side, the rooftops were covered in graffiti, while the Brooklyn rooftops had new additions and places to sit.  There were also parks on both sides of the East River.  However, the Manhattan side only had a baseball diamond while the Brooklyn side had a carousel and a pirate-ship playground.

Manhattan side park

Carosel Pirate Ship Playground

What intrigues me most about the Manhattan Bridge is that I had never seen or heard of it before and yet it is the bridge shown in the background (multiple times) in the Doctor Who episode “The Angels Take Manhattan.”  Based on my walk on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, it looks like these shots were taken on the Brooklyn side of the river, in which case it seems like it possible to get the Brooklyn Bridge in the background instead as these two are close together on that side.  To me the images of the Brooklyn Bridge say New York, while (at least before I walked it) images of the Manhattan Bridge just say a place with a bridge and hence water.  I wonder if the Manhattan Bridge is better known in the UK than in my circle?

View like that used in Doctor Who