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Hill District receives $11 million in transportation improvements from federal infrastructure bill

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Jake Savitz
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90.5 WESA
The new grant money “will make Centre Avenue safer and more accessible to drivers, public transit users, pedestrians and all residents of Pittsburgh,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said in a statement.

The Hill District will receive $11.3 million to help rebuild its roads and sidewalks on Centre Avenue, local politicians announced Tuesday.

The city will use the money to reconstruct intersections, install green infrastructure, build a bike path and take other traffic calming measures.

The new grant money “will make Centre Avenue safer and more accessible to drivers, public transit users, pedestrians and all residents of Pittsburgh,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said in a statement.

The Hill District is one of the first neighborhoods to receive federal infrastructure investment dollars passed by Congress last year. On Thursday, the federal government announced $2.2 billion in grants through a program called Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity. Only two projects in Pennsylvania received funding.

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The Hill District has been a focal point of large-scale investments in the city by local developers including the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as local government. In February, Pittsburgh’s Housing Authority said it would apply for a $50 million grant to improve housing in the area. A new grocery store operated by Salem’s Market and Grill is scheduled to open on Centre Avenue soon, with support from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

“Through continued investment in the neighborhood, we are improving infrastructure, mobility and access for those who live there, but also for those who come to eat, shop and visit,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in a press release.

Fitzgerald and Mayor Ed Gainey held a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce the grant at the Ammon Community Recreation Center near where the work will take place.

“This grant is not just an investment into essential infrastructure, it is also an investment in correcting long standing harms that have isolated the Hill from Downtown," Gainey said in a statement. Historically, the Hill District has been the site of controversial development projects, including the Civic Arena and its later demolition, that displaced Black residents.

Dan Gilman, the former chief of staff to then Mayor Bill Peduto, said on Twitter that the city had applied for this funding last year and was rejected.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle said he and other local leaders lobbied United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for funding for the project. Two-thirds of the projects funded this round went to areas with persistent poverty or historical disadvantages, according to a press release from Buttigieg’s office, and half of the money went to urban areas.

“This project will provide safer streets, better transit, and improved accessibility in the Hill District,” he said in a press release.

Oliver Morrison is a general assignment reporter at WESA. He previously covered education, environment and health for PublicSource in Pittsburgh and, before that, breaking news and weekend features for the Wichita Eagle in Kansas.