Bigelow Boulevard Transformation: Reimagined Streetscape Now Open

Located between the William Pitt Union and the Cathedral of Learning, Bigelow Boulevard has reopened to pedestrians, bikes, and vehicles The Bigelow Block Transformation project included new accommodations for all modes of transportation to improve safety and efficiency. It has also enhanced the William Pitt Union’s grounds to be more accessible, sustainable, and accommodating for gatherings.

Envisioned since 2017 and closed since Fall 2019, Bigelow Boulevard‘s transformation is open, creating Pitt’s first Complete Street by accommodating pedestrians, bikes, vehicles between Fifth and Forbes Avenues; it also creates a safer, more accessible, and more sustainable environment.

The goal was to transform the University of Pittsburgh’s front door while maximizing the beauty and utility of Bigelow Boulevard and the William Pitt Union grounds for an enriched student experience. The results provide a safe and vibrant energy at the core of campus, invigorating Pitt’s front door with a standard deserving of the University’s rich history and esteemed stature.

 

 

 


Key Project Benefits


Safety and Traffic Flow
– The new streetscape provides a better, safer experience through a comprehensive multimodal mobility plan, created expanded sidewalks and crosswalks, relocated and enhanced the mid-block pedestrian crosswalk, calms traffic, improves the bus stop area, and upgraded this important bike connection using best practices in street design while fostering a stronger sense of place for Oakland and the University.


Connectivity
– The overall design creates a new welcoming and appealing pathway to Schenley Plaza, the Oakland business district, and the Oakland community, as well as providing a flexible new space for student activities and programming outside the William Pitt Union.

Accessibility – Accessibility between the William Pitt Union and recently renovated Schenley Quadrangle is significantly improved.

Infrastructure – Underground utility infrastructure updates to water lines, chilled water supply, and power distribution enables and supports the campus master plan, while creating the resiliency and redundancy needed to support a preeminent research University.

Complete Streets – New dedicated bike lanes and walking pathways provides improved mobility options traveling on Bigelow Boulevard.

Outdoor Spaces– New seating and amphitheater areas provide more campus options to spend time outdoors, following the Campus Master Plan’s goal of enriching the student experience.

 

Sustainability

From new green spaces and energy efficiencies to a system that manages rainfall through sustainable landscaping practices, Bigelow Boulevard’s transportation supports Pitt’s commitment to sustainability.


Rain Gardens & Permeable Areas
– To help collect rainwater from the road and sidewalks, the project added a series of rain gardens and permeable paver areas at William Pitt Union and in Bigelow Boulevard. Rain gardens take in excess rainwater and allows it to naturally infiltrate into the soil.

Impervious Area ReductionThe project reduced impervious areas (including streets, parking lots, and other horizontal surfaces) so that rainwater will be absorbed by the ground instead of running into storm drains, sewers, and waterways. In total, the Bigelow Boulevard transformation project reduced impervious areas by 9,900 square feet (nearly ¼ of an acre)! The new pervious areas include rain gardens, increased planting areas, and permeable pavers.  6,200 new plantings are expected by Spring.

Trees – Supporting the Pitt Sustainability Plan‘s goal to increase tree canopy 50% by 2030, Pitt added shade and understory trees to the area as part of the project.