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November 22, 2017

Staff Council Efforts Help to Secure Plans to Improve Fifth, Bellefield Intersection

Safety improvements are coming to the intersection of Fifth and Bellefield avenues following a meeting among representatives from Pitt’s Staff Council and the Community and Governmental Relations office, Pittsburgh city council member Dan Gilman and the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure.

The city plans to create traffic-free buffer lanes on either side of the Fifth Avenue bus lane approaching Bellefield from the east; restrict Fifth Avenue to two lanes approaching from the west until it passes the intersection; and allow right turns from Bellefield heading north, next to Mellon Institute, from a single right lane only.

“We believe the intersection is dangerous and we would like to see safety improvements,” said Alex Toner, Staff Council vice president for public relations. Toner announced the impending changes at the Nov. 15 meeting of the organization, which had been pushing for modifications for more than a year.

“It looks like we can plan to have it in place in the spring,” said city spokesperson Tim McNulty about the intersection changes, following the Staff Council meeting.

The most dramatic change for the intersection’s main crosswalk, which extends between the University monument sign and the Music Building, is the shift in the counterflow bus lane. Buses approaching the intersection of Fifth and Bellefield on Fifth Avenue would be diverted to what is now the first incoming traffic lane. Bright paint would demarcate traffic-free lanes on either side of this new bus lane section — one in what is now the bus lane, the other in what is today the middle lane of the road. The outer edge of this new traffic-free section, bordering incoming vehicles, would be marked by traffic stanchions.

Inbound traffic on Fifth in the block prior to Bellefield is already restricted to two lanes up to this point. The new street configuration would keep incoming, or downtown-bound, Fifth Avenue vehicle traffic to two lanes for another half a block — until about halfway to Ruskin Avenue. Fifth Avenue will only open to four incoming lanes after it has passed the Bellefield intersection, rather than inside the intersection itself. This will create a much greater separation between crossing pedestrians and traffic.

The city will also paint pedestrian bump outs in front of the University monument sign and the Music Building. These are brightly painted demarcations on the road, effectively extending the curb and warning vehicles to avoid the area.

Finally, the city will eliminate the dual right turn from northbound Bellefield to eastbound Fifth Avenue, providing only a single right turn lane bisecting the crosswalk between Mellon Institute and the other side of Fifth.

“This is the first step in hopefully a series of implementations that will make the intersection safer,” Toner said.

Food Drive Challenge Results, November Brown Bag Planned

In other Staff Council news, the group’s 2017 Food Drive Campus Challenge, a competition with Carnegie Mellon University’s staff council group to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, raised more than $15,000 and gathered hundreds of food and household items.

In this first year of the competition, CMU out-raised Pitt, $13,760 to $1,685 — likely because the CMU group has been holding its own fall food drive for a decade, said Staff Council President Andy Stephany. “We certainly intend to participate again next year and build on our momentum,” he added.

In partnership with the Office of Human Resources and TIAA, Staff Council will hold a brown bag lunch presentation by the chief investment strategist of Nuveen Investments concerning investment strategies on Nov. 28 at noon in the William Pitt Union’s Kurtzman Room.


Marty Levine,, 412-758-4859


Filed under: Feature,Volume 50 Issue 7

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