City outlines safety measures for St. Pat's parade day festivities
Concerned about some “questionable” behavior on South Side he witnessed during last year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, City of Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich and public safety officials met last week with several neighborhood bar owners and other stakeholders.
Saying they would like a safe event, Director Hissrich and the Public Safety officials outlined measures planned for St. Patrick’s Parade Day, March 11.
Beginning at 7 a.m. on Parade Day, there will be no parking permitted on both sides of E. Carson Street between 12th and 18th streets. Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon said no parking signs will be placed, and replaced, starting the day before. Designated areas will be available for taxi and ride share companies to pick up and drop off passengers.
As in years past, visitors can expect to see a “substantial” police presence in South Side. As many as nine Pittsburgh Police Motorcycle officers will join those patrolling the neighborhood. In addition, there will be State troopers, County police, mounted police and Pennsylvania Liquor Control Enforcement agents in South Side for the day.
Commander Dixon said everyone will have to comply with the law, people will not be permitted to congregate outside of bars on the sidewalk. If people are waiting to get into a bar, the bar will be required to have a way to keep people lined up and orderly.
Bars that have “nano windows,” window walls that open, will be required to keep the windows closed. She noted there are LCE rules against noise and opening the windows allows the noise to escape and attracts a crowd, congregating on the sidewalk and creating problems.
Commander Dixon said last year on a number of occasions, since parking was removed on parts of Carson, crowds of people spilled into the street particularly at intersections, creating dangerous situations.
“Cooperation from the bars is what’s going to keep it moving,” she said. “We can’t have a party atmosphere with music blaring into the street. It’s just not going to happen this year.”
Director Hissrich said they aren’t going to permit pop-up vendoring on the sidewalk. Those businesses which already have permits to extend onto the sidewalk will be honored, but none will be allowed without a permit.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Chief Darryl Jones said as they’ve done in the past, they will be enforcing occupancy limits in the bars. He emphasized for bars to keep an accurate count of the number of people in the establishment.
“If I come in and your occupancy is 100 and you tell me it’s 98 but it looks like 150, I’m dumping the bar just to make sure,” he said. “Now when the bar is dumped, it is dumped immediately. There is no ‘we gotta pay our tab first.’ That’s not my problem. My problem is to get them out fast and get an accurate count.”
To facilitate traffic flow, barricades will be placed at several intersections including: 10th and Muriel; 10th and E. Carson; 13th and E. Carson; 18th and E. Carson; 18th and Sarah; and, 21st and E. Carson.
Contingency plans are in place to reroute traffic off of E. Carson in case of an accident or emergency. Police will also be directing traffic at the end of the night to facilitate people leaving the neighborhood in an orderly and efficient manner.
Commander Ed Trapp of the Pittsburgh Police Special Deployment/Planning Unit said the police will also be coordinating with taxis, Uber and Lyft to move people in and out of the neighborhood.
“The more people we can get to use taxi, Lyft and Uber, the better off we are. Besides getting them off of E. Carson Street, we don’t want them getting behind the wheel of a car.”
Commander Trapp noted the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s Second Avenue parking lot will be open and a shuttle will be operating. He suggested it would free up a lot of parking and traffic if South Side businesses could encourage their employees to park over there and take the free shuttle that will be operating.
Tentatively, the parking lot and shuttle will be open and operating beginning at 6 a.m. on March 11. The shuttle is scheduled to operate until 5 a.m. the following day. Those parking in the lot may leave their cars overnight and pick them up the next day without charge.
Pittsburgh police will be frequently patrolling the lot and taxi and ride sharing companies are being encouraged to pick up passengers in the lot if needed.
“If we find out that there’s a lot of people going over there, we’re going to move the police over there to sit in the parking lot,” Director Hissrich said.
The free shuttle will operate on a slightly different route this year than last. The shuttle will travel across the 10th Street Bridge and make a left on Muriel Street. It will travel up Muriel and Wharton to 18th Street where it will turn left onto E. Carson. The shuttle will stay on E. Carson until 21st Street where it will return to the Second Avenue lot via Wharton and Muriel streets.
Passengers will only be picked up and dropped off along E. Carson Street, not on Wharton or Muriel streets.
Last year the shuttle got bogged down in traffic between 10th and 17th streets.
Director Hissrich said there will be “zero tolerance” during the event, similar to the Regatta, Fourth of July and Light Up Night, and there will not be as many warnings given as in the past.
“If you screw up, expect to get cited or arrested,” he said. “We want everybody to have a safe time, but at the same time I want to quash any problems before they become large fights or anything.”
“We’re here to help you so if you have any problems inside your establishments, please call us right away and don’t wait. We would rather you call us and not need us than if you don’t call us and it turns into something worse. We’re just looking for some cooperation this year,” he added.