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Pittsburgh Officials Hope To Soon Begin A Major Road Repair Project In Hazelwood

Irvine Street, also known as Second Avenue and State Route 885, at the base of Greenfield Avenue.
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After several years of urging PennDOT to upgrade Irvine Street, a state-owned road, Pittsburgh officials will take the reins instead.

Irvine Street is the primary way Hazelwood residents get to their neighborhood, but its sidewalks have long been impassable.

“It’s just fundamental,” said Karina Ricks, who directs the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, of Irvine’s importance. “It’s a transit street, it’s a pedestrian street, it’s a biking street.”

It’s also a central commuting artery along which people tend to drive far above the speed limit. City Councilor Corey O’Connor represents the neighborhood, and he said the $1.2 million renovation should help reduce speeding through the business district.

“Everything to make it more fluid and connecting as well as walkable for our residents in Hazelwood makes it a safer neighborhood for everybody,” he said.

O’Connor added the work will become more important as people use Irvine to get to the 178-acre Hazelwood Green development underway.

Todd Stern is the managing director of U3 Advisors, a development advisor to the local foundations who own the Hazelwood Green site. He said repairing the sidewalks on Irvine is crucial to restore connections between the neighborhood and the development, as well as to the South Side and Downtown.

“Deterioration of this stretch of sidewalk has also long been a barrier to those looking to safely access the trail system,” he added, referring to a stretch of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail that connects to the Great Allegheny Passage. “And its poor condition continues to create challenges for those who lack automobile transportation.”

Restoring the sidewalks is a bit more complicated than just pouring concrete. Ricks said that because the street is at the base of several hills, the city has to stabilize the land and build some retaining walls.

The city already paid to have engineering plans drawn up, but starting the project depends largely on money from the American Rescue Plan. In the administration’s proposal, the work on Irvine would receive most of the funding it needs: $1 million. (The state’s Department of Community and Economic Development kicked in $200,000).

City Council is still deciding how to allocate the ARP funding. If approved, the Irvine Street overhaul would take nine months.

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.
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