By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Repairs to Grandview Avenue sidewalks will be coming soon


City of Pittsburgh officials are exploring options for repairing the sidewalks running along Grandview Avenue in Mount Washington.

Grandview Avenue renovations and the proposed Shiloh Street Gateway were among topics discussed at the Mount Washington Community Development Center (MWCDC) meeting on Thursday at the Mount Washington Senior Center on Virginia Avenue.

Pat Hassett, the deputy director of Public Works, opened the meeting by outlining the city's plan to restore sections of sidewalk and railings along Grandview Avenue. He also requested the community's input on how to best use the available funds.

According to Mr. Hassett, the section of sidewalk extending from the Monongahela Incline to P.J. McArdle Roadway is in need of repair, and safety could be an issue with the high volume of pedestrian traffic through the area.

"Things are looking a little ragged to the point where in some cases, it's a little on the unsafe side," Mr. Hassett said. "Particularly regarding the pedestrian circulation through there. We have some grant money and some money in the city specifically earmarked for Grandview Avenue."

According to Mr. Hassett, three structures along the city-facing side of Grandview Avenue allow the sidewalk to veer slightly over the mountain. At each structure, the road widens enough to allow between five and six cars to park on the pedestrian side of the street.

Two of the sidewalk structures are in need of repair. The sidewalk structure closest to the Monongahela Incline must be replaced entirely.

"If we were to pursue these improvements with unlimited funds, we would replace 90 to 95 percent of the sidewalk," Mr. Hassett said. "... One of the bigger costs is the structures."

Because the cost of replacing the sidewalk structure is high, Mr. Hassett suggested a different plan: removing the eastern overhang all together and moving the sidewalk into the parking lane. The savings would allow the city to focus more funds on improving other sections of the sidewalk.

"It would have a minimal impact, if any, on the hillside itself," Mr. Hassett said. "The cost savings would be anywhere from one-half to one-third of the cost of replacing the structure entirely."

When asked for feedback on the proposed plan, several community members requested to see a drawing of the concept. Mr. Hassett said he plans to return to the next MWCDC meeting in July with more details about the proposal.

A community member also raised a concern about parking stress and pointed out several surrounding apartments are not equipped with a parking lot, so tenants frequently use the spaces near the sidewalk structure for overnight parking.

A portion of the project funds come from a $125,000 grant to the MWCDC from the Colcom Foundation. The foundation also offered to contribute $26,000 to replace benches and plant beds over the next five years, but in order to secure it, the community must donate a matching total.

MWCDC Executive Director Ilyssa Manspeizer also provided an update on the MWCDC's initiative to construct a new Gateway sign over Shiloh Street that will read "Shiloh Street Shops."

According to Ms. Manspeizer, the MWCDC collaborated with the city's art commission to receive approval to move ahead with the project. The mutually-agreed upon design will cost approximately $41,000 more than the organization had initially planned.

Ms. Manspeizer said Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith was able to help secure most of the extra funds in order to move forward with the proposed concept. The next step is to secure city council's vote in the coming weeks.

"The challenge for us is we had funding that was supposed to disappear this month, but we were able to get an extension of that funding," Ms. Manspeizer said. "I'm less hopeful than I was a couple of months ago but more hopeful than I was last month."

The next MWCDC community forum meeting will be on Thursday, July 16 at 7 p.m.


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