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Overhaul Of Smallman Street Expected To Begin In Late Summer

Margaret J. Krauss
90.5 WESA
Cyclists arrive to a meeting about Smallman Street in Aug. 2018.

City officials will present an update on the project to renovate Smallman Street in Pittsburgh’s Strip District Wednesday night.

The broad, busy street forms an important neighborhood corridor, and runs past the historic Produce Terminal, slated for renovation in the coming months under a deal struck between the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Chicago-based McCaffery Interests.  In coordination with McCaffery’s work, Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure will make significant changes to the road between 16th and 21st Streets, slated to cost $9 million.

“It will be really transformative to that area of the city,” said Karina Ricks, director of DOMI. “It will be, I hope, a high water mark for great streets and active places and human-centered spaces in the city.”

Plans for Smallman Street include a new traffic pattern, new light fixtures, and the addition of plazas and medians along the busy road. The city will also work on three planned walks that will run from Smallman to the Allegheny River through the Produce Terminal.

In order to make sure work on Smallman Street doesn’t have to be redone, DOMI is coordinating its construction schedule with McCaffery. Work is expected to start in August, said Ricks.

When the DOMI presented its plan for Smallman Street last spring, business owners and community members alike were vocal in their opposition. Merchants worried about parking loss and how delivery trucks would move through the area. The plan lacked bike facilities, sparking concern among cyclists who navigate that corridor now. Many pushed the city to create a complete link between Downtown and the East End, and consider Smallman Street one of the few viable options for doing so.

In response, DOMI reworked their plans to include a bike lane on either side of Smallman. While it solves the question of mobility for the moment, Ricks said the neighborhood is dynamic and requires closer study. In the coming months, the department will kick off a network plan to look at bike facilities, parking, and the implications of future growth.

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority coordinated with all parties to first replace the former combined water and sewer infrastructure with separate lines as well as a separate storm sewer. As of last month, the authority had almost completed installation of the sanitary sewer and storm sewer.