First off, prior to this, I was cutting and pasting maps into PowerPoint, and then putting lines and labels on the maps, printing the maps, scanning them back in, and then posting them here. Thanks to Chris Schultz from Green is Good for introducing me to Google Maps. Check out the link here to see a visual representation of my idea on Google Maps.
Grant Street Multi-Modal Transportation Center
All trains that enter Downtown would use the former Pennsylvania Railroad station in Downtown. They built a brand new transportation center on the site of the old Greyhound Station. The problem is, it's not a transportation center, it's a...you guessed it...a Greyhound Station. I say make it a true transportation center! The infrastructure is there, on both sides. All it needs is a physical connection. (I will talk about how to deal with freight traffic through the station later.). Additionally, I am a firm believer in the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. To me it just doesn't make sense to have two terminal stops within blocks of each other. In my mind it is better to centralize all downtown service in one spot.
Arnold/New Kensington (AVR):
The current plan which is under study has the Arnold/New Kensington line traveling from Arnold and New Ken. to the Strip with stops in Oakmont, Verona, and Lawrenceville. My plan consists of two lines that would share trackage. One line (Gold) would travel to Downtown, and the other line (Blue) would travel to Oakland and Hazelwood.
I would also do away with the Verona stop, and put a stop/park and ride at Washington Blvd. In my mind, Verona is too close to Oakmont, and doesn't have the commuting population to support its own stop. People who would commute from Verona could easily drive the extra mile (or so) to a stop at Oakmont. I think you could get more bang for your buck by putting a park and ride at Washignton Blvd and Allegheny River Blvd. That way, you could tap in on commuters from across the river in Aspinwall, Sharpsburg, and Fox Chapel, and other nearby areas that don't want to deal with the worst of route 28.
Arnold/New Ken. to Downtown (Gold): This line would share the rails with the Arnold to Oakland line (Blue) from the first station in Arnold through Oakmont. At the Washington Blvd Park and Ride, the Gold line would split from the AVR and use an intact connection to the Brilliant Branch. This branch is currently sparsely used, and trains would face no opposition. The line would enter the current Norfolk Southern (NS) Pittsburgh Line at CP Home (Homewood). (I will discuss route sharing with NS when I talk about the Greensburg to Pittsburgh Line (Black). The train would make a stop (one I proposed) in East Liberty, and then would make its final stop at the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station in Downtown.
Arnold/New Ken. to Oakland and Hazelwood (Blue): As stated earlier, this line would share the rails with the Gold Line up until Washington Blvd. Park and Ride stop, and at that point would continue on AVR track into the city. The train would stop in Lawrenceville and then move on the CSX/AVR tracks, across the top of the strip continuing underneath Neville Ave. to the Oakland stop*. From there it would continue to Hazelwood, which would make an excellent spot for some Transit Oriented Development along with High Tech industry. This line would have very little interference from freight traffic. CSX no longer regularly operates freights over this track, AVR operates one regular freight train, which runs at night, and Amtrak operates one train just after midnight, and one train just after 6 AM, which would not interfere with the peak direction of train traffic.
* The reason this train does not operate to downtown eventhough it travels a mere 1 to 2 miles north of downtown is simplicity of operation. With the way the current rail infrastructure is set up, a train coming from Lawrenceville would have to make a reverse move at CP Bloom (next to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company). By utilizing this route directly to Oakland, it avoids a reverse move. People who want to travel to Downtown have the Gold line at their disposal, and I will talk about integrating a shuttle that would travel between Downtown and Oakland.
Stay tuned for Part 3 where I'll talk about the Greensburg to Pittsburgh Line. This line sees a HUGE amount of freight traffic, and it will take more to make it work (but it is possible).
Pittsburgh Street Lights Update
2 years ago