South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

South Side updated on construction projects coming to community


October 16, 2018

The upcoming South Side infrastructure projects, and an update on the South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED), were the focus of the Oct. 9 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

Engineer Emily Gaspich, P.E., of the city’s Dept. of Mobility and Infrastructure - Streets Division, and project manager of the East Carson St. paving project, reported on the upcoming federally-funded 18th St. signals upgrades for pedestrian safety. The upgrades will occur at 18th and Sarah streets; 18th and Jane streets; 18th and Mission streets, 18th St. and Arlington Ave .; and Brownsville Rd. and Bausman St.

18th and Josephine streets will receive a new signal, and will be federally funded.

The 18th and Carson streets signal will be funded by the state.

The schedule calls for starting the work in March, 2020.

There will also be lighting and other improvements from Muriel St. to Wharton St. to 23rd St. to Sidney St. to Hot Metal St. The goal is to provide a bike and pedestrian connection.

The city will conduct a $3.5 million East Carson St. streetscaping project from 10th to 25th streets. It will include pedestrian lighting, street lighting at unsignalized intersections, street trees and furnishings, hanging baskets, benches in heavily-used areas, new trash cans, and more.

The plan is to begin in March, 2019, with construction completed in Nov., 2019.

The current Carson St. trees will be removed, but trees will be back in 2020.

The design constraints are utilities, narrow sidewalks, monolithic curbs and sidewalks, and vaults, with vaults defined as room under sidewalks.

The $12 million East Carson St. safety improvement project will extend from the Smithfield St. Bridge to 33rd St., and be carried out by the state Dept. of Transportation [PennDOT]. It will include resurfacing, upgrading intersections, ADA ramps and more, and will begin in March-April, 2019.

As to what to expect during the projects, Ms. Gaspich said curb and sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of homeowners. Call 311 for problem properties.

For tables and chairs in the public right-of-way, a permit and ADA clearance is required.

For security cameras on public poles, only those cameras owned by the city and county will be returned.

There will be a construction schedule, and property owners will be notified at least 24 hours in advance of work in their area. Door hangers will be placed on property with the contractors’ and her contact information.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said the city is designing a new contract for city furniture. Kiosks will be part of the new contract, and will go once the contract is completed. But will remain for now.

Due to the pending South Side streets projects construction, Christmas lights cannot be erected this year. However, he would like to use Parking Enhancement District (PED) funds to buy quality Christmas lights that work well with the planned new lighting, and to pay for their putting them up and storing them.

Mr. Kraus and nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden next provided an update on the PED, which is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and which began early last year.

The revenue from the South Side PED must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, public works, and infrastructure improvements, but can’t be used to pay for existing city services

So far this year, $167,544 was raised.

Block by Block, or a “Clean Team,” was retained for September-December to keep the area free of trash, litter, weeds, and more. The workers also power-wash the sidewalks to rid them of gum, grease, and other detriments.

The areas pressure washed so far are the 1700 and 1800 blocks of East Carson St.

In the time the Clean Team expected to complete both sides of Carson from 1200-1800, workers were only able to clear both sides of two blocks due to years of gum, dirt, and debris compacted into sidewalks.

Mr. Kraus said city council approved up to $20,000 additional PED funds to increase the Clean Team presence from four to five days a week through December, and to provide additional power washing services to both sides of East Carson from 12th to 17th streets.

To date, the Clean Team has removed 490 stickers/graffiti; removed 2,388 pounds of trash; and weeded 133 block faces.

Mr. Kraus reported that since the PED began, $334,943 has been collected. High-resolution cameras were purchased with PED funds for $24,000, and are up and running in the area. A litter-eating machine is being considered, but with no commitment made.

In the neighborhood plan update, Tracy Myers said the city is developing a process in which public input organizations will be seen as representing the neighborhood.

Called the Registered Community Organization (RCO) program, it gives formal status to community organizations that register with the City of Pittsburgh and provides benefits to those organizations.

The benefits include notification of public hearings, guaranteed meetings with developers/applicants, placement on official brochures, and more.

Among the requirements to become an RCO are being a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, and having adopted bylaws. The Planning Forum is not a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

There can be more than one RCO in a neighborhood, she said.

The meeting began with news of a project that is in the design development phase.

Ms. Myers, of the Development Review Committee (DRC), said the project is the redevelopment of a building at 129 McKean St., at the corner of McKean and 2nd streets. It is between where the Liberty Bridge and the T-line pass over the Flats.

The structure originally stored whiskey barrels.

Under the proposal, the seven short floors will be combined into five floors. There will also be a new addition.

The new building will have eating venues, a cigar smoking area, a site for artists to display their works, and more. The ground floor would have a fresh market.

The developers are counting on a demographic interested in transportation besides cars.

Ms. Myers said if the project reaches fruition it will be a great complement to apartments being built at Station Square. There will also be immediate access to the trail.

The hope is to have construction work in January-February, 2019.

In announcements, the Fall City Wide Public Safety Meeting will be held on Oct. 17 at the Pittsburgh Project, 2801 N. Charles St., Pittsburgh 15214. A light dinner will be available at 6 p.m., followed by the meeting at 6:30 p.m.

The topic will be “The State of Human Trafficking: The Pittsburgh Region.” It is sponsored by the city’s Public Safety Zone councils and the Dept. of Public Safety.

From 10 am to 1 pm on Oct. 20, the block watches will be working with Pitt students as part of “Pitt Make a Difference Day.” The volunteers will plant gardens, pick up trash, and more.

From 3-6 p.m. on Oct. 20, residents may share their memories of South Side during a pop-up museum to be held at Prince of Peace Parish, 81 S. 13th St. The temporary exhibit will consist of pictures and other artifacts residents bring with them to display.

Items will be returned to their owners at 6 p.m.

The intent of the event is to stimulate conversation around South Side history.

On Oct. 24, from 5 to 7 p.m., trivia night will be held at the Market House. Duquesne University’s Office of Commuter Affairs is sponsoring the event in partnership with the South Side Community Council, South Side Chamber of Commerce, and CitiParks Healthy Active Living Center.

The 101st Anniversary of the Brashear Association will be celebrated from 6 to 9 pm on October 25 at The Brew House, featuring hors d’oeuvres, beverages and a special performance by Iron City Circus Arts. The ticket price is $60.

Free parking is available at the UPMC Mercy South Side lot, 21st and Josephine streets. Call 412-431-2236 for event details or sponsorship opportunities.

At the meeting’s conclusion, Planning Forum chair Hugh Brannan reminded everyone the Brashear Association will be serving about 600 families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and will be needing about 2,000 new, unwrapped toys for youngsters.

Anyone interested in holding a toy drive would be appreciated.

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on Nov. 13.


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