Responding to coverage in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of the city's plan for restricting access to downtown Pittsburgh, District 3 Councilman Bruce Kraus is concerned about the impact that will be felt by South Side residents and by East Carson Street businesses.
The city's plan designates three entry points to downtown: Smithfield Street Bridge at Carson Street, Fifth Avenue at Ross Street, and the Roberto Clemente Bridge at Isabella Street. Mr. Kraus asks whether the 10th Street Bridge and the Smithfield Street Bridge will be open to pedestrian traffic.
The councilman's focus is on the Carson Street access point, as this access point will directly affect residents and businesses in his council district.
The only access to the Smithfield Street Bridge is from East and West Carson Street. "Wouldn't it better to make the Liberty Bridge the point of access?" asks the councilman.
"West Carson Street is not quite the concern as East Carson Street," says Mr. Kraus. "West Carson can be accessed through the West End Bridge, Steuben Street, and the West End. West Carson is a mostly commercial area. East Carson will carry the burden of an entryway to Downtown. East Carson Street goes right through a residential neighborhood.
"Every intersection on East Carson is a side street into a residential neighborhood. This plan will create crippling gridlock on East Carson Street. The city's plan forces massive numbers of vehicles off of main arteries and onto already congested narrow residential streets."
Councilman Kraus also expresses concern about the impact on businesses on East Carson Street. "No-one will be able to get to businesses on the East Carson corridor. And no-one will be able to park."
According to news reports, public safety officials have met with Oakland businesses.
Councilman Patrick Dowd says public safety officials have met with businesses owners in Lawrenceville, and public safety officials in fact regularly meet with Lawrenceville business owners.
"I know of no-one who has met with business owners on East Carson Street. Are there any plans to meet with these business owners," Councilman Kraus wondered.
He noted that 100 police officers are to be assigned to Oakland during the G-20 summit.
"I applaud this effort. It's wonderful," he continued, "but I want to know the number of police officers to be assigned to the East Carson business corridor."
He notes that in the SouthSide Works is the national headquarters of American Eagle Outfitters, "It has been reported that corporate headquarters have been targeted by protesters in the past. If American Eagle Outfitters is a point of interest for protesters, how will this area be protected?"
"The city's plan is being advertised as giving ‘full and free access' to the downtown triangle," says Mr. Kraus. "Instead it appears that the downtown will be a containment area. The city's plan pushes drivers onto East Carson Street, and will force people into small, already overcrowded, adjacent residential areas."
"I am concerned that not enough foresight has been applied to drawing up the access plan for the City of Pittsburgh, and that the effects could be disastrous for city residents and businesses," Councilman Kraus said.