Kaye Burnet | Staff Writer
Before Duquesne began renovating the sidewalks and streetlamps on Forbes Avenue, lights hung haphazardly from old trolley poles, powered by overhead wiring that crisscrossed the sky and created an eyesore, according to Duquesne University’s Director of Design and Construction Mark Minoski.
Now, after 15 years of making gradual improvements along the arterial throughway that borders the university, Duquesne’s facilities management team is moving on to the final phase of the Forbes Avenue Streetscape Project.
Duquesne first began beautifying Forbes Avenue in 2008 with the street lamps and sidewalks in front of the Power Center, according to Minoski. For the next seven years, the university funded improvements to the street out of its own coffers, but in July 2015, Duquesne applied for a multimodal transportation grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
“[In 2015], we said, doing this without a grant — we just can’t afford it this year,” Minoski explained. “The hard part is, there’s more than just us going after this money.”
Duquesne succeeded in winning the $350,000 grant and began work on the Streetscape Project last spring. The project is divided into three phases, Minoski explained.
“Phase one consisted of replacing the sidewalk, curbs, light poles between Shingiss Street and the Armstrong Tunnels along the south side of Forbes Avenue,” Minoski said. “Phase two consisted of replacing the sidewalk, curbs, light poles from the Armstrong Tunnel to McAnulty Drive along the South Side of Forbes Avenue.”
Phase one and two were completed over the summer, and phase three will begin in May of 2018. The final part of the project consists of replacing a portion of the lower sidewalk and curbs on the east side of Shingiss Street and the replacement of sidewalk, curbs and light poles on the west side of Boyd Street, Minoski said. Shingiss and Boyd are the streets surrounding Rockwell Hall that intersect Forbes.
One issue on Forbes Avenue that will not be addressed by the grant is the street lamps between the Power Center and the Palumbo Center than sometimes flicker or flash like a strobe light at night. Minoski explained that once Duquesne installs new lamp posts, they become the responsibility of the City of Pittsburgh to maintain and repair.
“Even though those LED lights last a long time and they’re energy efficient, you’d be surprised how quickly the
electronics inside the lights can go bad,” Minoski said.
Minoski said the project benefits people beyond the Duquesne community.
“Since Forbes is a public street, the lighting and beautification is for all the residents in the Downtown and Uptown community,” Minoski said.
However, improving lighting and sidewalks on Forbes has more than just cosmetic benefits.
“Mainly, it’s for the safety of the students,” Minoski said. “It gives them a brighter area to walk, and those old sidewalks are a tripping hazard.”
Minoski estimates that the project will be complete by the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester.