Master plan includes rerouting part of University Drive


Moving ahead with the 30-year Campus Master Plan will involve more than just adding new buildings. There are several “enabling projects” that have to take place first before construction can begin, Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management, told the University Senate’s Plant Utilization and Planning Committee on Sept. 16.

One of the first of these will be rerouting University Drive, which will enable demolition of the O’Hara Garage and the LRDC building, and eventually open space for a new rec center.

University Drive currently traverses the hillside from Centre Avenue all the way over to behind UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital and then back across the hillside behind Allen and Thaw Halls and over to Parkman Street near the 20th Century Club.

“That means the students have to cross traffic twice, getting up and down from their dorms on the hill,” Bernotas said. The intent is to create open green space next to the rec center. “You can go inside the rec center on a bad winter day, and it will take you all the way up to Irvis Hall at the top where you can come out.”

The redirected road will make an S curve behind Eberly Hall and come down behind Allen Hall. Bernotas said work on the road will begin this winter, which means upper University Drive, from Centre to Eberly Hall, will close over the winter. The footpath down the hill also will have to close temporarily, with foot traffic rerouted through the Petersen Events Center.

The plan also includes permanently closing the lot behind Eberly Hall at some point next year. Bernotas said the 67 spots will be relocated to other locations, as will any other lost spots during the master plan projects. The administration has repeatedly said that the master plan will be parking neutral — with no gains or losses in spaces — although not all the details of how that will be accomplished have been worked out. He said that a 350-car garage is being planned for under the proposed new hillside housing units.

“We’ve begun a very comprehensive communication plan, working with Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, to look at everybody that's going to have to be relocated,” said Kristin Gusten, senior director of capital planning and physical resources in the provost's office. “We're working with all the folks that we need to relocate, communicating first at the department level, chairs, and rolling that out well in advance of any relocation and also communicating the impact of the construction of the road. We're getting down to the detail of actual individuals that will be impacted by the construction of the road.”  

The next step is demolition of the O’Hara Garage, which should begin in May, followed by tearing down LRDC. He said the demolition of the two buildings will take six to seven months. One lane of O’Hara Street and the bike lane will be closed during demolition and construction.

There are other current and upcoming projects that the Pitt community needs to be aware of:

Lothrop Drive: Work on Scaife Hall will keep a section of this road closed indefinitely, possibly until 2022.

Bigelow Boulevard: The section between Forbes and Fifth avenues is still on track to close on Nov. 1 through August 2020 to work on below and above ground projects. A communication plan is in the works to make sure the entire Oakland community is prepared for this closing.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.


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