Work starts on PRT’s University Line, some Downtown bus lines change Oct. 1

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, construction started on Fifth Avenue for what Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) is calling the University Line. This line is the first project in what PRT is calling “PRTX,” a new level of service that aims to have “high frequency service thanks to transit-only travel lanes, new shelters with amenities like real-time arrival screens, and improved reliability and on-time performance.”

For now, construction is taking place on Fifth Avenue between Liberty and Market Street, and the contractor — Independence Excavating, Inc. — will be working from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The first month of work will focus on relocating and replacing water and sewer infrastructure.

During the first 30 days of construction, traffic on Fifth Avenue will be adjusted to accommodate. Both lanes of Fifth Avenue heading toward Fifth Avenue Place will be closed, so vehicles heading toward Fifth Avenue Place will use the remaining travel lane. Traffic coming from Liberty Avenue onto Fifth Avenue will instead be detoured onto Sixth or Fourth Avenues from Stanwix Street.

The overall University Line system is expected to cost $291 million and aims to better service between Oakland, Downtown, and Uptown. The project will include 23 new stations and transit-only lanes. According to a press release from PRT, “The University Line will improve accessibility and safety throughout the corridor. The project includes new sidewalks, ADA ramps, protected bike lanes, traffic signals, and landscaping.”

While construction starts Downtown now, this is only the first phase of the project. Construction in Oakland and Uptown will be starting next year.

Once the construction is complete, the “Downtown Loop” will have five PRTX stations: one at Fifth Avenue at Ross Street, one at Fifth Avenue at William Penn Place, one at Fifth Avenue at Market Street, one at Sixth Avenue at Wood Street, and one at Sixth Avenue at Grant Street. The total construction time is estimated to be 18 months.

Beginning Oct. 1, several routes will no longer travel to Uptown or Downtown Pittsburgh. 61D-Murray will now turn around at Robinson Street and back on to Forbes Avenue while 71A-Negley, 71C-Point Breeze, and 71D-Hamilton will turn around at Robinson Street and into the dedicated bus lane on Fifth Avenue. All of these routes will add “Short” to their name. The aim of these route changes is to decrease the congestion from the construction on the University Line.

Riders who wish to go to Uptown or Downtown from the 61D, 71A, 71C, or 71D routes will have to transfer to a 61A, 61B, 61C, or 71B within three hours to avoid paying additional fare with a ConnectCard or Mobile payment. Those who pay their fare in cash will have to pay an additional fare when transferring.