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Bedford Dwellings could be overhauled if the city’s Housing Authority is awarded a federal grant

A sign reading "Welcome Bedford Dwellings" with old, three-story red brick apartment buildings in the background.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

On today’s episode of The Confluence: 

Bedford Dwellings housing development could get an overhaul
(0:00 - 6:19)

The city’s housing authority is looking to overhaul Bedford Dwellings, one of the oldest public housing developments in the country. Last week, Pittsburgh City council approved an additional investment of $31 million if the housing authority is awarded $50 million by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh is looking to apply for the funds through the Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant.

“The money would be spent to replace all of the existing affordable housing units [at Bedford Dwellings], there's 411 of them, but also add a different income level housing, some market rate and affordable, and then also some for-sale homes,” says Margaret J. Krauss, WESA’s senior reporter covering development and transportation.

Bedford Dwellings opened in 1940, so the facilities themselves are in need of an update. The application for the HUD grant is due Jan. 11, and the city’s housing authority expects to know by the summer if it receives the funds.

Fern Hollow Bridge’s collapse, and swift replacement, highlights need for coordinated attention to aging infrastructure 
(6:28 - 14:26)

Nearly a year ago, the Fern Hollow Bridge in Frick Park collapsed. Last month, officials cut the ribbon on the replacement span between Squirrel Hill and Regent Square.

With the bridge’s collapse came greater attention to the rest of the city’s infrastructure.

“This may be a case of a squeaky wheel getting the grease, maybe that allowed things to move a little bit more quickly,” Jonathan Shimko, past president of the Pittsburgh section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “But I do think things can be done safely in a fast pace. But with any big project, you know, it needs to be thought out carefully, and you can't skip any of the steps.”

Late last year, the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers put out its report card for state infrastructure and Pennsylvania received a ‘C-’ the same grade it was given in 2018. Shimko says the state should pay particular attention to addressing facilities that are “out of sight, out of mind,” like drinking, waste and stormwater, which all received grades in the ‘D’ range.

Roberto Clemente’s legacy is still felt in Pittsburgh, 50 years after his death
(14:36 - 22:30)

Fifty years ago, Pittsburghers and baseball fans were shaking their heads in disbelief when beloved Pirates player Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash bringing relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year's Eve.

Since then, Clemente’s life and legacy has been commemorated in a museum in Lawrenceville.

“He died the way he lived,” says Duane Rieder, founder and executive director of the Clemente Museum. “When you just look at the photos, the video of him, he's always working with children and trying to help them and get them to be the next group that's going to carry on and do good.”

Rieder says Clemente significantly influenced other players, including Steeler Franco Harris, and Pirates Steve Blass and Manny Sanguillén. While Clemente’s number, 21, has not officially been retired by the Major Baseball League, Rieder says he hopes that honor will happen at some point.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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