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Officials planning for a safe St. Patrick's Day in South Side

Parking, transportation issues covered in plan

 

Allegheny County Mounted Police are anticipated to be in South Side again for St. Patrick's Day festivities. City officials are planning for a safe and fun Saturday celebration on March 17.

St. Patrick's Day festivities in South Side can be a multi-day celebration w ith the traditional parade held the Saturday before, giving more opportunities for revelry.

This year, Parade Day and St. Patrick's Day both fall on the same Saturday giving the day a different dynamic for city and public safety officials in their preparations, according to South Side Councilman Bruce Kraus and city Nighttime Economy Manager Allison Harnden. Over the past several years the city has instituted a public safety plan with input from South Side bar owners designed to keep visitors and residents safe during the merriment.

"We want everyone to have a safe and fun Saturday," Mr. Kraus said. To that end, he was encouraging those coming to South Side to leave their vehicles at home and use alternate transportation.

Using a ride sharing company, the Night Rider shuttle or public transportation into and out of South Side might not be a bad idea. Visitors are being reminded the Residential Permit Parking Program will be enforced in the neighborhood along with the Parking Enforcement District (PED).

Those opting for parking in a metered on-street space in South Side will have to remember to feed the meter up until midnight.

Another impact on parking will be the enforcement of the "Public Safety Lane" between 12th and 17th streets. Parking will not be permitted in the lane from 4 a.m. Saturday, March 17 until 4 a.m. Sunday, March 18.

Free parking will again be available in Pittsburgh Parking Authority's Second Avenue lot, just across the 10th Street Bridge. The Parking Authority is underwriting a free shuttle, the Nite Rider, for the day with stops at Bedford Square, S. 18th at Sidney Street and S. 21st at E. Carson Street.

New this year is a stop at the Port Authority T-Station on First Avenue. The Nite Rider will also have a real-time tracker available so people will know where the shuttle is available at http://www.ssniterider.com. Hours for the shuttle are anticipated to be from 5 a.m. St. Patrick's Day morning until 5 a.m. Sunday.

People may also leave their cars in the lot on Saturday and pick them up anytime Sunday without paying a fee. The Second Avenue lot is lighted and will be regularly patrolled by police. South Side employees choosing to use the free parking and free shuttle are being encouraged to use the real-time tracker for the Nite Rider so they can stay inside until the shuttle is coming to the nearest stop.

With the expected large crowds, Ms. Harnden said maintaining pedestrian traffic flow will be a priority. Police are requesting businesses refrain from placing advertising sandwich boards on the sidewalk. Although sandwich board are illegal, the city generally has used a "good neighbor policy" for enforcement if the boards are limited to one a business and they don't obstruct traffic but will enforce the law on St. Patrick's Day.

Businesses should also be aware of other enforcement efforts during the expected crowds:

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire will be strictly enforcing occupancy limits in addition to other requirements including having clear exits and fire suppression requirements. Businesses should keep in mind that employees also count towards total occupancy.

Pennsylvania Liquor Enforcement (LCE) will be enforcing the requirement for liquor selling establishments to control sound inside their businesses. At the meeting with bar owners, the LCE reminded them it is also violation of their alcohol license to serve visibly intoxicated people.

Along those lines, City of Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Services Assistant Chief Amera Gilchrist noted EMS services get stretched thin on St. Patrick's Day and businesses can help by following guidelines for serving alcohol safely.

It was also noted at the meeting that a number of Duquesne University students are taken to Mercy Hospital each year for alcohol poisoning. The students can face consequences with the school for visible intoxication and other violations.

Police are requesting bars keep their "Nano windows" closed. As crowds build during the day, people tend to gather on the sidewalk outside the businesses with open windows, inhibiting the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Businesses with sidewalk café permits are required to display their permits in their windows. Other businesses that wish to sell on the sidewalk will need an extension of premise permit for food prep or display. No other sidewalk vending will be permitted.

To facilitate vehicular traffic flow, ride sharing companies are being encouraged to drop off and pick up passengers off of E. Carson Street.

Councilman Kraus said, as in the past several years, city motorcycle police will be in the neighborhood helping to keep traffic moving. In addition, it's expected Pennsylvania State Police will be at the major intersections.

Allegheny County Mounted Police are anticipated to arrive in the neighborhood around 4 p.m.

In addition to patrolling E. Carson Street, police will also be monitoring house parties in the neighborhood. Residents are requested to call 911 if they see unsafe behavior.

Police will also be on the lookout for people on rooftops this year. Although always a Permits, Licenses and Inspections Dept. violation, this year the police have the authority to order people off of rooftops.

Mr. Kraus emphasized city officials want people to come to South Side and enjoy themselves, but to do it sensibly.

Ms. Harnden added there were quite a few new businesses in the community that may have a calming effect.

 

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