Bigelow Boulevard reopens between Fifth & Forbes in Oakland with new multimodal transportation enhancements

Located in the heart of Oakland between the University of Pittsburgh's iconic William Pitt Union and Cathedral of Learning buildings, the reimagined Bigelow Boulevard between Fifth and Forbes avenues was reopened on December 24, 2020, after months of construction that began in November 2019.

The University of Pittsburgh partnered with the City of Pittsburgh to align much-needed infrastructure work with the city’s Complete Streets policy to coordinate a single project for the block that enhances pedestrian safety and accommodates all modes of transportation more safely and efficiently.

A key connection in Oakland for people using all modes of travel, the new streetscape was designed to create safe, separated paths for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. This comprehensive project features expanded sidewalks and crosswalk lanes, an enhanced mid-block pedesetrian crosswalk, traffic calming devices, an improved bus stop area, an upgraded bike connection, and more while fostering a stronger sense of place for Oakland and the University of Pittsburgh.

Using safety, traffic flow, accessibility, infrastructure, connectivity, and sustainability best practices, the new streetscape is highlighted by multimodal enhancements designed to improve the experience of all travelers no matter their mode – whether riding transit, bicyling, walking, driving personal vechicles, or sharing rides, or a combination of many.

Updated utility infrastructure, additional landscaping, and more are alaso highlighted by the project which has significantly improved accessibility between the William Pitt Union and the recently renovated Schenley Quadrangle.  The utility infrastructure updates to water lines, chilled water supply, and power distribution enable and support the campus master plan and benefit the community, in addition to creating the resiliency and redundancy needed to support a preeminent research University.

The overall design creates a new welcoming and appealing pathway connecting this central hub of the University's campus to Schenley Plaza, the Oakland business district and the greater Oakland community while providing a flexible new space for student activities and programming outside the William Pitt Union.

With new green spaces, stormwater management solutions and sustainable landscaping practices, this Bigelow Block renovation project supports not just the University of Pittsburgh Campus Master Plan's process and sustainability commitment, but the goals of the community, Oakland stakeholders, and project collaboraters like Oakland Business Improvement District, Oakland Transportation Management Association, and Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, as well.

The project was approved by University of Pittsburgh trustees in June 2019 and construction began in November 2019. Initially slated for completion in August 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed completion of the project which was reopened to the public on December 24, 2020.

Funded by the University of Pittsburgh general budget and a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (with support from Senator Jay Costa, Representative Frank Dermody, and Representative Dan Frankel), the total cost of the project was $23.7 million – including all utility upgrades, streetscaping, landscaping and work on the William Pitt Union’s grounds. Contractors and partners included Mascaro Construction Company and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.


Below are photos from before and after the Bigelow Boulevard streetscape renovation project.

More details and additional photos of the reopened street can be found on the City of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Twitter feeds, and the City of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Facebook pages.


Source: Details of this article and direct excerpts were taken from the University of Pittsburgh and City of Pittsburgh's original press release dated December 23, 2020