South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Pittsburgh to get assistance to upgrade steps citywide


Pittsburgh is one of four cities selected to join an expanded effort to help speed the adoption of leading local government innovations.

Pittsburgh will join St. Paul, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. as part of the effort. Urban leaders in these cities will work together over the next 18 months to explore and adopt new practices and policies to help close funding gaps to fully implement their five-year city infrastructure plans, with particular attention to projects that will have an impact on low-income residents.

In Pittsburgh the focus will be finding new ways to improve and invest in city-owned steps. Improving the steps will increase walkability through the city, and preserve an asset that generations of Pittsburgh residents have used to get to schools, work and shopping districts.

This initiative builds on successful City Accelerator efforts across eight cities since the City Accelerator launched in 2014. For example, Philadelphia is increasing enrollment in benefits programs among low-income seniors by experimenting with behavioral economics or “nudges” applied to their written communication with residents. In Seattle, municipal leaders are attempting to change the culture of city government by implementing new strategies that balance traditional civic engagement forums with new technology, such as digital outreach and telephone town halls, to provide opportunities for residents to more deeply contribute to the decision-making in City Hall.

With support of $1,155,000 from the City Accelerator program, each city has a unique focus based on its needs.

“Increasing our capacity by double or triple the rate of repair and replacement of our city’s steps -- a rare asset that brings unique character and walkability to our neighborhoods -- would allow us to cut down on our large maintenance backlog and incorporate new technologies to help preserve these assets longer,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. “We’ve done great planning to get us to this point and know that Living Cities and Citi Foundation will help us tap new and creative financing sources to move forward through the City Accelerator.”

“Developing brownfields requires working partnerships, community engagement, and shared vision for improved land use,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “The expert technical support provided by Living Cities and Citi Foundation through the City Accelerator program will help us to continue our momentum for innovation in public services, with a focus on green infrastructure.”

“Our city continues to make great progress in improving our infrastructure and fighting climate change, but we must do even more to ensure all our neighborhoods are resilient,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee.

“Putting district residents on pathways to the middle class is a fundamental goal of my administration, but it requires robust infrastructure across a range of sectors,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Knowing the challenges we face and the tools the district has in place to address them, we are looking to the City Accelerator, Living Cities and Citi Foundation to help us create an actionable plan for infrastructure that will create jobs, broaden prosperity, and more effectively serve residents and visitors alike.”

In the 2015 Menino Survey of Mayors, supported by Citi, local leaders noted they are receiving little funding and support from the federal government, and are increasingly taking on the challenge to build and maintain vital capital assets to meet the needs of residents, commuters and visitors.

“Cities are being challenged to meet greater expectations of their residents with increasingly limited resources,” said Ed Skyler, Citi’s Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs and Chairman of the Citi Foundation. “With demand for infrastructure improvements in the U.S. estimated to be more than $200 billion a year, we want to help build a network of cities so they can pool their expertise in order to help meet these critical needs.”

By working with cities to close the gap on financing vital infrastructure, Living Cities connects safer and better infrastructure to opportunities for economic equity. “Simply put, our failure to provide citizens adequate physical structures and public assets is a failure of democracy,” said Ben Hecht, president and CEO of Living Cities. “In order to achieve dramatically better results for low-income people, faster, cities need to improve how they manage funds to build, repair, and maintain their infrastructure assets. These changes are necessary for cities to become competitive in the global economy, improve residents’ quality of life and provide opportunities for the low-income people who live there.”


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