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Lawrenceville will adopt 'dynamic' street parking prices, which sets rates based on demand

The intersection of Butler and Main streets in Lawrenceville.
Jakob Lazzaro
90.5 WESA

Major street parking changes are coming for Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. Pittsburgh City Council unanimously approved a measure Tuesday to establish a dynamic pricing program for parking meters in Lawrenceville which would increase the number of parking meters and the cost of parking.

The bill establishes a new map of paid parking spaces that extend beyond Butler Street. According to Councilor Deb Gross, who sponsored the legislation, parking costs in Lawrenceville have not kept up with the neighborhood’s growth.

“This is a way that we can make sure that the pricing matches the demand,” Gross said. “There will be more meters and more meter-enforcement area[s].”

Pricing will increase when demand is higher and drop when demand declines. The revenue would flow into a dedicated fund set aside to pay for a range of street infrastructure improvements, from pedestrian signals and improved crosswalks to bikeways and bus shelters.

In addition to capturing new revenue to invest in infrastructure, Gross said dynamic pricing will also help increase parking space turnover, allowing more motorists to find parking and patronize Lawrenceville businesses.

The new hours and rates have yet to be established. Gross said the idea isn’t to enact a cost-prohibitive rate, but the price can’t be “so cheap that people are parking there for three days straight, which happens.”

A map shows where new paid street parking will exist in Lawrenceville.
Courtesy of the City of Pittsburgh
A map of Lawrenceville where the city will create a new "mobility district." Specific locations for new parking meters have not yet been determined.

A similar program in the city’s South Side Flats neighborhood has brought in $1.4 million since 2016, according to the city.

Councilor Bruce Kraus, who represents the South Side, described dynamic pricing as a way to “nurture” business districts with investments provided by the new revenue stream. In the South Side, the city used the money to establish a three-person litter clean-up team.

Kraus said the team picks up on average 18,000 pounds of trash per month along East Carson Street.

But the parking program in Lawrenceville will, at least initially, be focused on safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists. Gross said senior citizens are avoiding Lawrenceville’s business district due to safety concerns stemming from speeding vehicles. She said the city could use the increased parking revenue to explore traffic-calming measures.

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Dynamic street parking has been widely supported by Lawrenceville residents and community at public hearings in recent years. Several community members spoke during City Council’s committee meeting last week in favor of the measure.

Emma Gamble, Lawrenceville United community engagement and program manager, told council last Wednesday that residents are eager to see dynamic pricing pay for street safety upgrades.

“Our public infrastructure around mobility, safety and accessibility needs further investment,” Gamble said. “Sidewalks are broken. There's a high amount of dangerous intersections [and] a lack of bus shelters,”

Laura Chu Weins, executive director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said the parking revenue should also support improving the wheelchair accessibility of the Lawrenceville’s sidewalks.

“We need to be funding a much more accelerated process to close that gap,” she told council members last week.

According to Lawrenceville United, 150 local businesses lack ADA-accessible front entrances, and there were 147 crashes between vehicles and pedestrians between 2006 and 2020. At least six of those incidents resulted in the death of someone walking through the neighborhood.

The pricing changes won’t take effect for at least six months, as the city sets rates and establishes a trust fund to deposit the new revenue. Gross said the delay will also allow for public meetings about how the revenue should be spent.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.