Improving, connecting, and activating Mount Lebanon’s transit district
The Uptown Business District in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania is enjoying a renaissance. Storefronts are full of activity and there is renewed diversity of retail, entertainment, restaurants, and commercial in the historically designated area. However, the district still faces challenges related to aging infrastructure and legacy design choices. evolveEA was engaged by the municipality to improve the pedestrian experience along Uptown’s main street with an updated streetscape design, recommend enhancements for the area’s public spaces, and enable better connection to the nearby light rail station.
Our process focused on the development of standards to be incorporated into the documentation and engineering of public space improvements, while also helping the community to reimagine some unique and underutilized spaces in the public right of way. Our conceptual design scan identified issues and possible solutions related to four areas of focus: the streetscape conditions at Washington Road, the plaza and stair area that leads to the light rail station, the Clearview Commons area, and Parse Way. These areas have the potential to work as a unit and to strengthen the overall performance of the business district by continuing Mount Lebanon’s efforts to function as a transit oriented development.
Our recommendations are based on the following main concepts:
- Streetscape Improvements
The Municipality would like to coordinate public realm elements, enhance the pedestrian experience and unify the business district. Streetscape improvements are likely to be implemented along the length of the business district. The Destination Uptown report includes recommendations on the planters, light poles, light fixtures, benches, trash cans, pavement detail, green infrastructure integration, parking pay stations and, locations for wayfinding or other signage.
- Connect to Transit
Mount Lebanon’s light rail transit (LRT) stop passes through it business district onto Parse Way, which acts as the business district’s front door. By reinforcing the connection between the station and the Municipal Building’s Washington Road plaza, visitors can have a safer and more engaging entry sequence into the Uptown area. The report provides recommendations for infrastructure improvements and activation of the plaza and stair connection from Washington Road to Parse Way.
- Activate Parse Way
With its proximity to Washington Road and Mount Lebanon’s only LRT station, Parse Way was identified as a potential pedestrian corridor that would support and expand business district activities and bring together the community assets at each end. This report encourages greater pedestrian use by recapturing the currently underutilized road as a multi-use, pedestrian oriented space that activates the rear side of Washington Road businesses. This may include infrastructure improvements along Parse Way and Clearview Commons park and better connections to the cemetery, the public school, and even the library.
Throughout our process, we conducted several public meetings to share analysis and gain feedback on greatest need, district identity and character, and general visual preference. With the municipality’s implementation of the recommendations comes a renewed sense of collaboration, and excitement in the community around programming and inhabiting a user-friendly transit district where public space is reconceived to better serve their needs.