By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Commander gives insight into truck traffic in the Slopes


Last updated 1/30/2020 at 9:32pm

The Jan. 14 general meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) began with a Zone 3 police update by Commander Karen Dixon.

“The Flats’ crime drives the reports,” she said of all of the activity in the Flats.

A problem in the Slopes is all of the large trucks driving through the area due to Google Maps, a web mapping service.

An attendee said Mission St. also has large trucks passing through, with many hit-and-runs on the street.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said he uses the Waze app, which delivers real-time road updates related to a route. It also provides alternative routes to save time.

He said if signs are posted prohibiting truck traffic, the trucks will still go where the apps direct them.

It is all driven by a database, which can be altered, he said.

Next, an attendee thanked Commander Dixon and the officers for finding who hit-and-run his car at Mission and Barry streets.

The commander said when emailing her concerns put ‘Slopes concerns’ in the subject line so she knows it is not spam. Email:

Next, Mr. Kraus said not being council president anymore frees him up for other projects.

A focus for him now is waste reduction.

He said he and many residents spent numerous Saturday mornings picking up neighborhood trash with plastic bags.

But Aldi grocery store got rid of the bags due to social awareness. Giant Eagle will be getting rid of the bags in February.

On another topic, he said construction is coming in the spring.

The 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.

Mr. Kraus also reported the upcoming federally-funded 18th St. signals upgrades for pedestrian safety will be going out to bid late this year, with an early 2021 start.

The project involves 18th St. and: Brownsville Rd., Bausman St., Amanda St., Hays Ave., Arlington Ave., Pius St., Mission St., Josephine St., Jane St., and Sarah St.

The traffic signal upgrades include: gloss black signal poles; audible countdown pedestrian signals; and more.

Regarding the Dept. of Public Works’ (DPW) 4th Division site redevelopment, he said the new campus will be up and running for winter 2021.

DPW shut down the former Division 4 facility a few years ago when it became uninhabitable as the building was toxic and unhealthy, and no longer viable. Division 4 responsibilities have since been split between divisions 3 and 5.

The new campus was supposed to open this winter. However, it hit a “glitch,” he said, as a seller wanted too much money for his property which the city wanted to buy for the project. Later, the seller agreed to sell, and the city bought the property in October.

Now, the campus is being redesigned.

The original proposal for the site is to return part of Mathews Ave. to a two-way street and add a cul-de-sac at the bottom of the hill.

The proposed cul-de-sac would reduce Mathews Ave. traffic to local traffic only; allow DPW to secure the site; provide safety for DPW vehicles and employees maneuvering the site; and more.

To a question of where South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED) funds, the revenue from Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on weekends, are being spent, Mr. Kraus said one expenditure is for the two-person Clean Team.

The revenue from the PED must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements.

About $11,000 a month is spent on the Clean Team, which maintains the E. Carson St. corridor.

Funds were also spent on cameras, holiday banners, training, and more. There will also be upcoming security training at bars.

As for the new parks tax, an attendee asked who decides where the money will be spent.

Mr. Kraus said it is his understanding that it will be through the capital budget process.

To a question about demolitions, he said the cost has skyrocketed from $13,000 to $45,000 due to federal regulations and more. Only $2 million has been budgeted by the city for the demolitions.

Next, Brian Oswald provided an update on the 20th Annual StepTrek, the non-competitive, self-guided walking tour of the Slopes. It will be held on Oct. 3.

To celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary next year there will be additional features.

Contact Mr. Oswald to be on the StepTrek committee.

Next, Jamie Balser discussed some recent South Side Park’s improvements. In 2019, 30 trees were planted; an irrigation system was begun; and more events were staged, like the goat festival.

In 2020, a new ADA- accessible trail is planned that would start at the parking lot at the top of Brandi Schaum Road with a 55-feet crushed gravel trail, and continue between the cliff and fence.

Due to the dampness of the area, there would be a 100-feet boardwalk that will be four-feet wide.

The trail would then circle around the nut trees in the meadow for 275 feet before reconnecting with the boardwalk. The parking lot may be paved.

Dawn Lorincy next spoke about the Beautification Committee, whose members will be clearing trash in the gateways and more. Let her know the areas in need of help to be schedule for Saturday morning cleanups.

Regarding the South Side UPMC hospital property, Mr. Kraus said services like the outpatient radiology (x-ray), urgent care, outpatient rehabilitation, and more will be moving to the UPMC outpatient services building at 23rd and Jane streets in early-February.

About 850 UPMC information technology (IT) personnel and others will be moving into the former hospital building.

In new business, the annual South Side Soup Contest, co-sponsored by the Brashear Association and the South Side Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled for Feb. 22 from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets go on sale on Feb. 7 at noon. For more information, visit:

The next SSSNA general meeting will be on May 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center.


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