Ballet, Bikes and Bridges
The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre expands, Bike Pittsburgh issues its end-of-year report and the Greenfield Bridge is set to implode.
Photo by Cindi Lash
Applauded by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers, benefactors and supporters — and the star of “The Nutcracker,” guarded by two oversize mice — construction workers on Wednesday hoisted skyward and affixed the final beam to the steel frame of PBT's new annex in the Strip District.
The Byham Center for Dance, under construction adjacent to PBT’s studios at 2900 Liberty Ave., is scheduled to open next fall. PBT fundraising campaign co-chairs Carolyn and Bill Byham, for whom the center is named, and Dawn and Chris Fleischner said the center will make PBT more accessible to aspiring ballet students, schools and the community at large.
The $6.5 million, 14,000-square-foot center, designed by IKM Architects, will connect to PBT’s existing headquarters and will feature floor-to-ceiling windows facing Liberty Avenue. It will house two dance studios, Pilates, Gyrotonic and cross-training facilities, rehearsal space for full-length ballets and dressing rooms for adult open-class students. The increased space will enable the PBT School, which instructs 1,000 students each year and has increased enrollment by 75 percent over the past 10 years, to accommodate ongoing demand for its training program. The center also will provide more access to dance and movement classes for the community.
At a “topping-out” ceremony Wednesday, PBT dancers and staffers, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and other local dignitaries and supporters of the project added their signatures to the final beam. Construction workers from Jendoco Construction Company, general contractor for the project, then used a crane to raise and affix the beam, which was decorated with a toy Nutcracker, a tiny evergreen tree and a U.S. flag.
As the beam rose skyward, PBT Executive Director Harris Ferris quipped from the audience to Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr: “Did you choreograph this?” Orr, standing near the crane in a hard hat, laughed and shook his head in denial.
Bike Pittsburgh, the Lawrenceville-based transportation safety and advocacy organization, recently posted its 2015 year in review. They are calling 2015 "a pivotal year." The group lists a number of highlights, including:
- Over 167,000 trips on the protected Penn Ave. bike lane (as recorded at 12th St. downtown)
- The launch of the Healthy Ride bike share system with 500 bikes docked at 50 stations across the city; 45,000 trips were taken in July, August and September
- The addition of 6 miles of bike lanes and sharrows, bringing the total in the city to 73 miles
- 2 new Fixit stations, which offer publicly accessible bike and tire maintenance
- A new youth education program called Positive Spin (originally part of the Summer Dreamer's Academy) that's geared toward teaching youths how to safely operate bikes on Pittsburgh's street, trails and parks
- 40,000 people attended the OpenStreetsPGH events to enjoy "dancing, running, biking and playing" on 3.5 miles of car-free streets
- A successful bike valet program that parked over 2,000 bikes at Three Rivers Arts Festival, WYEP concerts and other events
“I think it set the tone for amazing things to come in the next few years, especially with the Mayor’s complete streets executive order.
There were some great things that happened to our streets with more bike lanes and the launch of Healthy Share. Open Streets was really transformational, too. We got 40,000 people in three family-oriented events to experience the streets car-free," says Bike Pittsburgh's executive director Scott Bricker.
—Hal B. Klein
photo by Richard cook
PennDOT recently announced that it will partner with Waze —a crowdsourcing app that allows users to anonymously report traffic conditions — to exchange real-time traffic information about Pa. roadways. The information exchange should allow motorists to know about possible traffic delays due to construction, collisions and inclement weather.
Governor Wolf is quoted on his official website saying, "As travelers rely more and more on their smartphones for real-time traffic data, this new partnership represents yet another way PennDOT is modernizing to keep up with the demands of its customers."
The up-to-the-minute information will be helpful later this weekend as the Greenfield Bridge is scheduled for implosion on Monday morning. Starting at 6 a.m. on Sunday the Parkway East (I-376) outbound will close at exit 72A and inbound lanes will close at exit 78B; the parkway will remain closed for 4 days. The Tribune-Review reports that all or part of an additional 20 streets will be closed for part of Monday morning.