Monday, March 15, 2010

Down to the River to Play

And then there's this:

On Thursday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority board is expected to ratify an agreement with the Buncher Co., which owns major swaths of property along the Allegheny River, to implement a redevelopment strategy that could bring 1,000 units of housing to the riverfront between 11th and 21st streets, and bring a new industrial flex use to a now-cleared former mill site at 62nd Street.

The partnership between the URA and Buncher calls for a broad redevelopment strategy of three major parcels of Allegheny riverfront property totaling 80 acres, two owned by Buncher and one by the URA.
So that's neat and all, but here's my real question: when does water taxi service start?

I mean, seriously, my belief (which could be totally off base) is that water taxi service in Pittsburgh has never taken off because, well, you can't really *get* anywhere by water taxi. Sure, the Southside, Downtown, and Lawrenceville all border the rivers, but once you dock at these places, you're more likely to find an embankment and slag than you are to find shopping and eating establishments. If you want to go from Station Square to the Stadiums, that's one thing, but if you want to go from 41st Street to Smithfield, that's something quite different.

And, of course, the City can't really be blamed for this -- for years our riverfronts were pragmatic not recreational. Riverfronts are generally flat, large parcels of land with easy access to cheap transportation (i.e. barges), so it's no wonder than J&L practically owned the Monongahela. Still, those days are gone and the river is not nearly as disgusting as it used to be. We now have an opportunity to create terrific riverfront amenities, connected to existing neighborhoods that have, heretofore, been separated from the rivers.

Which brings me to my point (no pun intended): I want a highspeed Pittsburgh hovercraft taxi. I may never need to go from Lawrenceville to, say, Neville Island in eight minutes, but dammit I want to know that I *could* if I wanted to. I mean, it's more doable than a friggin' Maglev (high or low speed) as we already have most of the infrastructure in place and we don't have to come up with new technologies. The only drawback I could see would be a disturbing uptick in the number of kayak/hovercraft accidents... but if you're going to strap yourself into what amounts to a giant buoyant onesie, I think you deserve what you get.

And, well, if the flooding gets bad, we can always take the hovercraft into Oakland.


Roberto Cofresi said...

lol at "if you're going to strap yourself into what amounts to a giant buoyant onesie, I think you deserve what you get"!

larrylawr said...

Yeah. I would love to be able to walk two blocks to the river, and pay 2 bucks to go to station square and drink.