Rendering by LaQuatra Bonci Landscape Architects. Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh.

It’s long been a topic of discussion: The stretch of Bigelow Boulevard between Fifth and Forbes Avenues is the heart of Pitt’s campus and a perfect place to take in the stunning architecture of the Cathedral of Learning and the open, green space of Schenley Plaza.

It’s also perpetually snarled with a sometimes perilous mix of cars, buses, pedestrians and bicycles, many of them changing lanes simultaneously.

The good news? Bigelow Boulevard is now getting reimagined and rebuilt.

On Thursday, the Property and Facilities Committee of Pitt’s Board of Trustees approved construction on a long-discussed overhaul of Bigelow Boulevard that will bring improved bike lanes, better traffic flow and an upgrade to the campus’s stormwater management systems.

“Bigelow Boulevard is a major throughway for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and motorists,” said Mavis Rainey, executive director of the Oakland Transportation Management Association. “The planned multimodal improvements will enhance the safety of the street, making it more accommodating for all users, including those needing accessible parking for shuttle and individual pick-ups and drop-offs.”

Rendering by LaQuatra Bonci Landscape Architects. Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh.

The university will work with the City Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) on the project, with the South Side-based landscape architecture company LaQuatra Bonci Associates collaborating on the design. Construction will run from November 1 until August of 2020 and cost an estimated $23.7 million.

No word yet on new locations for the bus stops that are currently along that stretch of Bigelow, but that information is expected to be released this fall. Check out a detailed timeline here.

Rendering by LaQuatra Bonci Landscape Architects. Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh.

The project is the first tangible output from the University’s Campus Master Plan, released in September of 2018 and finalized this past February, which serves as a blueprint for the wider overhaul of the campus over the next several decades.

The 52-page report, based on a series of community meetings with University and Oakland stakeholders, identified improving pedestrian access and upgrading aged infrastructure as critical needs for both the campus and the community at large.

“Our master plan goals include creating a more connected campus that is not only beautiful, but also easy to navigate,” said Mary Beth McGrew, Pitt’s assistant vice chancellor of campus planning, via a press release. “This project will fulfill a long-term goal of connecting the Cathedral of Learning with the center of student life on campus. Simultaneously, working through all these improvements will mean a more efficient project with less disruption.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.