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June 6, 1996

June 13 hearing to look at options for Bigelow block

A June 13 public hearing will consider a feasibility study of the Bigelow Boulevard block between the Cathedral of Learning and the William Pitt Union.

The purpose of the study is to examine ways to create more green space and improve the safety of the one-block stretch of Bigelow without closing the street to vehicular traffic.

Pittsburgh City Council Member Valerie McDonald introduced the bill, which calls for Pitt to pay for a landscape architect to conduct the feasibility study.

According to the bill, the study will consider eliminating metered parking in the one-block stretch of Bigelow, narrowing traffic lanes, providing safer crosswalks and constructing a vehicular tunnel under the street.

The June 13 hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in the Frick International Studies Academy, across Fifth Avenue from The Book Center.

One thing that the study specifically will not consider, according to the published bill, is the closing of Bigelow between Fifth and Forbes to vehicular traffic.

The bill is an outgrowth of the battle that arose in March when City Council President Jim Ferlo expressed his opposition to plans by Mayor Tom Murphy's administration and the University to conduct a 60-day test closing of Bigelow.

For decades, Pitt has sought the closing of Bigelow to improve campus appearance and the safety of students, faculty and staff who make thousands of trips back and forth across the street every day. The 60-day test closing was to determine the effect on Oakland traffic of a permanent closing of the street.

Ferlo's opposition to the test closing resulted in a compromise agreement being approved by City Council on April 16. The compromise permits the closing of Bigelow for 30 days instead of the originally requested 60 days. To obtain as accurate a picture of the effect of the closing on traffic as possible, the test closing will not be conducted until either mid September or early October, when the University is in full operation.

–Mike Sajna

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