Borough Council unanimously approved the plan for the Shannon Transit Village after presentation of the plan by developers.
The Borough of Castle Shannon is a participant in an Allegheny County, Port Authority of Allegheny County Transit Oriented Development “Project of Regional Significance” which will create 165 apartments on the Shannon Station parking lot. The property is owned by the Port Authority of Allegheny County and acts as a connecting landmass between Castle Shannon’s two commercial districts. The borough committed 75% of tax revenue generated by the project for 20 years after the construction of the project. The borough has now committed an additional one million dollars to provide a match for the infrastructure improvements necessary to integrate the project into the surrounding community.
The downtown is being identified as Mt. Lebanon Boulevard, to Castle Shannon Boulevard…Castle Shannon Boulevard/Willow Street Library Road. The common design theme and the linkages of an accessible path will tie the two districts together as a cohesive entity. The project will create linkages between the three transit stations in Castle Shannon (Shannon, Willow and Arlington) as well as the Shannon Transit Village transit-oriented development.
The Borough of Castle Shannon and the Castle Shannon Revitalization Committee have initiated streetscape design activities is seeking Highway Occupancy permits. The committee, which works closely with the Borough of Castle Shannon, has completed a survey of the area as well as engineering for the project.
The infrastructure project will improve conditions surrounding the new TOD, with new lighting, sidewalk enhancement, pedestrian safety, improving sidewalk connections, crosswalks and amenities. The project significantly improves connectivity for the utilization of existing transportation assets.
Shannon Transit Village project is a development concentrated around and oriented to the transit stations in a manner that promotes transit riding. The Castle Shannon Transit Station Improvements and Accessible Path Initiative project does not involve a single improvement, but represents a collection of projects to integrate the Castle Shannon Transit Village infill project into the existing community.
A key item in the design process will be the design of pedestrian improvements to/from transit stops such as the island area at Cooke Drive and Mt. Lebanon, which will be a focus of this more walk-able community initiative. Connection to the Arlington Station needs to occur in a safer manner. Plans are to strengthen the pedestrian connection by using the Port Authority grassy island as a focal crossing point.
The Castle Shannon Boulevard/Willow Avenue area is fraught with problems relating to the transit infrastructure acting as a deterrent to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. There is a need to make the district friendlier to visitors. The plan calls for steps to be installed from the Willow Station to Willow Avenue to provide access to Willow Avenue and not force all pedestrians to the corner of Castle Shannon Boulevard and Willow Avenue. The infrastructure project will enable customers and visitors to navigate the landscape.
The Castle Shannon Infrastructure Improvement Initiative will address a number of problems in the downtown and they are as follows:
1. Connecting Mt. Lebanon to Castle Shannon on Mt. Lebanon Boulevard by changing the elevation of existing sidewalks
2. Allowing natural pedestrian flow, installing steps to Willow Avenue from the Willow Station and accessible an accessible path to the Shannon Station.
3. Create traffic calming measures by creating a curbed landscaped area on a current non-paved illegal truck cut through on Mt. Lebanon Boulevard and Cooke Drive.
The enhanced linkages of the transit stations to the existing downtown will help increase sales which in turn will lead to increased rents which are the basis of a capitalized income valuation assessment The properties in the downtown would be reassessed when the properties start to turnover ownership. Much of downtown Castle Shannon is either vacant or has been rented for storage.
The rail infrastructure has created problems for pedestrian access to Willow Avenue, as the Willow Station does not have adequate access to the adjoining commercial district on Willow Avenue. The Arlington Station does not have adequate access to the Mt. Lebanon Boulevard commercial district. The Willow Station does not link to the other two stations. Linking the accessible path to the three stations will increase the pedestrian flow in the downtown resulting in more pedestrian foot traffic.