By SUSAN JONES
Walking down the Forbes Avenue sidewalks from Craft Avenue to the Cathedral of Learning the past few weeks has been a bit like playing the arcade game Frogger — switching sides or jumping into the street to avoid ramp construction while avoiding getting hit by a car.
But soon the sidewalk work will give way to even more disruptive milling and paving.
“Once it’s done it’s going to be beautiful,” said Mavis Rainey, executive director of Oakland Transportation Management Association.
At several intersections, crews have been replacing ramps to make them ADA compliant and putting in poles to hold new signals. This is all part of the multi-year Forbes Avenue Betterment project that includes work from the Birmingham Bridge to Margaret Morrison Street near Carnegie Mellon University. The entire project is scheduled to be completed before construction season ends in November, Rainey said.
“One of the challenges that we’ve been having in Zone 2 (Craft Avenue to S. Craig Street), this is the most congested part of the whole project,” Rainey said. “So timing is critical, not only when we put the new poles in but that they have electricity and they’re ready for that transition before the old poles are removed.”
Also being installed are push buttons that trigger the pedestrian phase of the signal at several intersections in this congested part of Forbes. The signals all will be retimed, Rainey said, to allow 3 to 5 extra seconds for pedestrians to cross the street when no traffic will be moving. The push buttons also have audible signals for the visually impaired.
“The overall goal is to enhance safety for pedestrians along the entire corridor,” Rainey said.
PennDOT and Gulisek Construction will begin milling and paving work next weekend, according to Rainey.
The work will involve closing one lane at a time, so the road will not be completely shut down. When the paving is done, new piano key-style crosswalks will be painted at 18 intersections to make them more visible to drivers, “so they don’t stop in them,” Rainey said.
The Parkway East Forbes Avenue exit ramp will close from 8 p.m. June 21 to 6 p.m. June 22, from the exit ramp to Craft Avenue. Milling operations on Forbes Avenue, starting at Craft Avenue and going to South Craig Street, will begin at 6 p.m. June 22 through 6 a.m. June 24, During this time, traffic will be restricted to one lane.
Detour maps for the Parkway East Forbes Avenue exit ramp closure will be posted on the Forbes Betterment project website.
Milling and paving is expected to be completed on Zone 2 of the project by the first week in September. After that, the new signals will be tested before the old poles are removed.
While the work will continue into the fall semester, Rainey said PennDOT and contractor Gulisek Construction are aware of the dates in late August when students will be arriving at all of Oakland’s colleges and won’t be doing any work during those times.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-648-4294.