Want truck traffic off of East Carson St.?
November 16, 2004
Survey says: Put up a sign!Decreasing the truck traffic on East Carson St. was the main topic at last week's meeting of the South Side Planning Forum, featuring the presentation of a study by Sidney Kaikai of the City Planning Dept. and Mike Andrewsh of Wilbur Smith & Associates.
The team concluded with the recommendation that erecting signage directing thru-trucks to bypass over Second Ave. to the 10th St. Bridge “has the greatest chance of success” compared to costly and unlikely long-term alternatives like constructing additional streets.
Andrewsh said data collection revealed that 10 percent of the trucks traveling East Carson St. are headed for other destinations, while 90 percent are making local deliveries and servicing the area. While the latter are vital and here-to-stay, removing as few as five or six of the thru-trucks during peak hours would be beneficial in cutting traffic, noise, delays, pollution, etc.
The next step is for city council President Gene Ricciardi to advise the city planning commision whether to proceed with seeking signage. All actions must be coordinated with PennDOT.
Besides Ricciardi, sponsors of the Dept. of City Planning's “East Carson Street Truck Bypass Study” were the department's director, Susan Golomb, and Fred Reginella, director of Engineering and Construction.
In the study, trucks, defined as having more than four wheels on the ground, were counted on East Carson St. during peak hours on one typical day.
From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., 40 trucks headed eastbound, from 10th St. toward Hays, with 35 making local stops and five passing through to other destinations. Westbound from the direction of Hays, 30 trucks entered the area, with five passing through.
From noon to 1 p.m., 100 trucks traveled eastbound, with seven trucks passing through; westbound, 48 entered, with two passing through.
From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., 20 trucks traveled East Carson St., with one cutting through. By that time of day, said Andrewsh, deliveries are over, and the area is generally avoided by truckers due to rush hour.
Since East Carson St. is a state road, truck access can't be denied. But signs could direct them to Second Ave. as an “east-west alternative to Route 837 Carson St” said Andrewsh. It would be drivers' choice what route to take.
Audience member Bill Fry, city administrative assistant in Ricciard's office, said he felt signage was the way to go at this time, and recommended the forum send Ricciardi a letter in support. “It's something that's feasible,” he said of the plan.
In the LTV update, Rick Belloli, executive director of the South Side Local Development Co., said of the 300,000 sq.ft. of retail in the South Side Works, restaurant space is limited to 25 percent, or 75,000 sq.ft., per the agreement between the community and the Soffer Organization.
As 31,000 sq.ft. is now occupied by restaurants, 44,000 sq. ft. remains, with almost all spoken for as new restaurants.
He also said parking garage No. 5, located near the planned Recreational Equipment Inc., or REI, site and Tunnel Park, will probably be built in two stages as the demand does not yet exist.
The first phase calls for 500 parking spaces near a coming “natural foods market,” although no company has signed on yet.
Regarding project updates, Belloli said plans for the Asian center are moving along. Surety Pittsburgh, an investment company, has an option for six acres between the IBEW site and the Hot Metal Bridge. The company would like to swap some land with the IBEW. The mixed use development would be geared toward Asian investors.
The design has been finalized for a Marriott Spring Hill hotel (a flag within the Marriott chain) on Water St. next to the Surety Pittsburgh site. The developer is the Kratsa Group.
Occupancy has increased in the two open parking garages with the new business openings.
To a question from new member Bruce Kraus, South Side Chamber of Council, of whether there are incentives for daytime commuters to park in garages, Belloli said it is his understanding that URA, which owns the parking garages, gave UPMC a reduced rate. The savings is passed on to their employees, who pay a reduced rate.
Belloli said the SSLDC is considering nominating the South Side Works for the Bruner Foundation's “Rudy Bruner Award” for urban sites that have been developed. Besides the national recognition, money is awarded which the SSLDC would earmark for streetscape improvements.
The application is due next month, and requires letters from the Soffer Organization, URA, and others. Planning Forum chair Hugh Brannan said the forum supports the application.
Regarding the proposed revisions to the South Side Neighborhood Plan, Belloli said he and Laura Beres, business policy specialist at the SSLDC, would speak to any groups, if requested, about the changes. Brannan said the forum hopes to vote on the revisions in the next two months.
The draft of the plan is available to download in pdf form online at http://www.southsidepgh.com and http://www.sopghreporter.com and to review at the South Side Branch Library and the Brashear Association.
The final topic was scenic byway designation, which the SSLDC is pursuing at the state and national levels for East Carson St. from McArdle Roadway at 10th St. to Becks Run Rd.
Designation would make new funding sources available, increase the promotional capacity of the South Side, and draw public attention to the historic area.
Belloli said he would like formal support from the forum, similar to the support the plan received from city and county councils. Brannan said a letter from the forum may be forthcoming.
The next step would be submitting an application to the state.
The next forum meeting will be on Dec. 14.