By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Speed humps may be used to calm Grandview traffic


Last updated 8/22/2018 at 8:37pm

Traffic calming devices such as speed humps may be used on Grandview Avenue between Merrimac and Wyoming streets.

Planning is underway for new speed humps and other traffic calming devices for Grandview Avenue following ongoing residential complaints about speeding motorcycles and traffic congestion throughout the neighborhood.

The plans to install the traffic calming devices were outlined at last Thursday's Mount Washington Community Development Corporation's (MWCDC) community forum during a panel discussion that included city councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, Zone 3 police commander Karen Dixon, and municipal traffic engineer Amanda Purcell.

$50,000 was set aside in the city budget for traffic calming initiatives on the section of Grandview Avenue between Merrimac and Wyoming streets.

Ms. Purcell defined traffic calming as an attempt to slow traffic using strategies other than reducing the speed limit. The current plan will use these funds to install speed humps, but the city is also considering curb extensions and pedestrian refuge islands.

The funding would be enough to install seven speed humps approximately 250 feet apart. Each hump will extend across the roadway and end two feet from the curb.

"This is the first year we've had funding, so this is the first opportunity we've had to actually put something in place," Ms. Purcell said. "This is August, we had some stuff planned, but we wanted to make sure we talked to everyone here first."

The discussion around traffic calming plans quickly transitioned into resident complaints about loud motorcycles speeding throughout the neighborhood and traffic congestion on streets connecting to Grandview Avenue.

A resident asked if the city could place stop signs at intersections along Grandview instead of speed humps, as blind corners and speeding drivers make it very difficult to pull onto Grandview from Merrimac Street or Maple Terrace.

However, city officials concluded stop signs aren't effective at slowing traffic and actually increase noise levels at neighborhood intersections.

Another resident, who was particularly concerned about high speed drivers on Merrimac Street, asked the panel about the possibility of installing cameras or increasing police presence in the area.

The councilwoman said she plans to advocate for one or two of the new speed humps to be placed on Merrimac Street to help with the issue.

Commander Dixon said three officers are typically assigned to the neighborhood; however, incidents in the South Side Flats can pull officers away from the area in the evening. She encouraged residents to continue to report motorcycles and speeders to 9-1-1 dispatchers.

"You need to keep pulling us back this way," Commander Dixon said.

The commander also said she will consider placing one or two additional officers in the neighborhood, but that it's unlikely to be a long-term solution. She also suggested that the addition of painted timing lines, which officers use to clock a driver's speed, is another strategy that could help calm traffic.

Another resident raised a concern about police ticketing cars for parking on sidewalks. The resident said because of the speed and volume of cars on neighborhood streets, residents are often left to choose between getting a ticket or a broken mirror.

Commander Dixon said it is illegal to park a car on sidewalks and officers have been issuing more tickets because of a significant increase in 3-1-1 calls about inaccessible sidewalks.

Another resident asked if the new speed humps will impact emergency vehicles, coach buses, or snow removal. Ms. Purcell confirmed these speed humps are specifically designed to allow for larger vehicles to drive over them.

Ms. Purcell also said her team will work to develop a plan with feedback gathered from the forum, and will come back for a future meeting to present the plan prior to kicking off the project.

MWCDC board president Michael Grande encouraged any members who had additional concerns, questions or feedback to email and the comments would be passed along to the councilwoman and commander.

In addition to the traffic discussion, J.D. Smith, project manager for Pittsburgh Parking Authority, gave a brief update on the status of the Shiloh Street parking garage. The garage has been closed for repairs since June 1.

Mr. Smith said the initial plan was for a remedial construction project done in a "90-day turnkey operation;" however, the project is taking longer than anticipated due to unforeseen condition of the concrete on the bottom side of the deck.

The garage was expected to reopen on September 1, but that date will now be pushed back to October 1. Mr. Smith does not expect the project to go beyond early October.

"You can't defer the work and you can't change the work," Mr. Smith said. "The work has to be done to make the parking plaza safe for the community."

Mr. Smith also added that the bottom deck will contain three new light fixtures to help brighten the garage.

The next MWCDC community forum will be Thursday, Sept. 20 at the Mount Washington Healthy Active Living Center at 122 Virginia Avenue.


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