Oakland and the Mon/Fayette Toll Road
Hotline, Fall 2001
by Ann and Nickolas Solic, Oakland Community Council
The Oakland Community Council (OCC) opposes the Mon/Fayette Expressway Project. OCC opposes the North Shore Alternative, Option 5C/D, which would create barriers and increase congestion in our community.
Option 5C/D would provide direct on and off ramp connections between Bates Street and the Mon/Fayette Expressway and, according to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, “this increases the attractiveness of the Bates Street corridor.” OCC members consider preserving, via the No-Build Option, the humble charms of Bates Street, including weeds, cracked sidewalks, billboards, and local touchstones such as the restaurant formerly known as Lasek’s, which are much more attractive than six lanes of concrete expressway on piers. Bates Street is a green corridor connecting our neighborhood with the Eliza Furnace Trail and the Monongahela River. The interchange would eliminate human scale (pedestrian and bicycle) access between Oakland proper and lower Oakland, the riverfront and the Southside.
Option 5C/D would increase the traffic entering and exiting Oakland. According to Turnpike Commission projections, the amount of traffic on upper Bates, from the Boulevard of the Allies into the heart of Central Oakland, ending in a T intersection near the post office on South Bouquet Street, would increase by at least 10%. Central Oakland is a maze of narrow, one-way streets with restricted parking and stop-start traffic. Garbage trucks, delivery vehicles and fender benders bring traffic to a simmering halt. With increased traffic would come increased noise, air pollution, litter, congestion, road rage and accidents. At a June presentation before the Oakland Task Force, an OCC representative asked, “Where will the cars go?” The Turnpike Commission representative answered, “They’ll dissipate.” (Eventually.)
OCC recommends improving the quality of life in Oakland through a combination of strategies including the No-Build Option, reduced population density and increased reliance on existing public transportation and light rail.
The Turnpike Commission claims that the negative impact of increased traffic would be offset by a proposed intersection improvement at Bates and the Boulevard of the Allies resulting from additional lanes and signal retiming. The intersection would be improved from “failing” to “D.” OCC members have doubts the additional lanes would improve traffic flow. At the same time, the six-lane access ramp bordered by imposing concrete walls would create physical and psychological barriers between West and East Oakland. For the unity of our neighborhood, the preservation of human scale access to greenways and cultural treasures, the vision of a healthy urban environment, Oakland Community Council opposes the Mon/Fayette Expressway.