affiliated with the 501c3, Winds of Change
PRESS RELEASE: November 9, 2017
Contact: Lisa Austin, Secretary, ErieCPR, 814.580.8501 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Viaduct Concert “Music on the Bridge” 11am, Saturday, November 11
11.9.17, Erie, PA Musicians and singers will gather for a one-hour sing-along concert on the north end of the McBride Viaduct on East Ave. and E.12th Streets at 11am on Saturday, November 11, 2017. Pianist and singer Julie VonVolkenberg, and others, will share her new work, “Save Your East. Avenue Bridge”. Local guitarist and keyboardist, Saint Stephen, will lead the audience in traditional standards including a Viaduct-version of Woody Guthrie’s, “This is your land.” Artist-musician Barbara Crone, and her husband Michael Crone will join in the singing. Free and open to the public.
The Viaduct is a 33’ wide and 1,800 LF bridge over one of the nation’s busiest railroads. If it is demolished, fences will be placed on both sides of the tracks at East Avenue to reroute the Viaduct’s 70,000 annual pedestrian and bike trips over to the nearby Rt. 290 Bayfront Connector highway path and East 12th Street corridor. This noisy, longer (2,000 LF) and narrower (9.5 wide) route next to a highway with 14,000 daily cars, trucks and tractor-trailers also features an additional, dangerous intersection and blind spot at Rt. 290 and E.12th Street.
Eastside resident Cynthia Muhammad believes demolition will create a “containment area . . . where children will be injured.” Michael Keys, spokesperson for the citizens group working to save the Viaduct, ErieCPR, commented that the people most dependent on the Viaduct as a “safe route” to school, work and play are “living in poverty . . . trying to survive” and cannot “fight City Hall”. The Viaduct demolition plans announced by the L.R. Kimball firm in 2013, included plans for a sidewalk on south side of East 12th Street. However, according to architect Adam Trott, President of ErieCPR, “the sidewalk safety feature was abandoned without a public meeting or hearing.”
Demolition costs identified by traffic engineers at the L.R. Kimball planning firm were listed as $1.2 million. However, without a public hearing, demolition costs were increased to $2.3 million without explanation. Currently, demolition costs are set to exceed the $3 million needed to stabilize the Viaduct for non-vehicular use. If demolished, little or no local economic benefit can be expected. If contrast, an investment in the bridge can be expected to create more than 30 permanent, private sector positions. In addition, temporary jobs and job training can be achieved through a Community Benefits Agreement.
Urban design experts agree that city connectivity is crucial and Erie should try to keep it’s Viaduct; these include past CNU president John Norquist, architect Toni Griffin, planner/architect Terry Schwarz and “the town shrink” Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove. They each visited Erie, toured the Viaduct and encouraged the city to retain this bridge in its role as a connective pedestrian and bike artery (in a part of the city already divided by a railroad and highway). In 2015, CZB’s urban architect Charles Buki co-authored the “Erie Refocused” plan that encouraged decision-makers to follow guiding principles including prioritizing pedestrians over vehicles (as in keeping the Viaduct for non-vehicular use) and investing in existing assets (like the Viaduct.) In addition, saving the Viaduct will allow a fuller consideration of the proposal to create an Erie urban park inspired by the NYC “High Line”.
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