Bike lanes, traffic improvements coming to Smallman Street in Pittsburgh’s Strip

Bob Bauder

Published February 25, 2019

Pittsburgh plans to add bike lanes along a five-block section of Smallman Street in the Strip District and install a public plaza as part of the Produce Terminal rehabilitation.

The City and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority are spending about $23 million total on new water and sewer lines and the traffic improvements between 16th and 21st streets. Traffic improvements will include the bike lanes, large visible cross walks, angled back-in parking and a public plaza at 21st Street.

Eric Setzler, chief engineer for the Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, said the city plans to pave Smallman and create one lane for vehicles and a bike lane running in each direction from 16th to 21st street. The Buncher Co., which is developing property it owns along the Allegheny River in the Strip, has plans to rehabilitate a bicycle trail running beside the river.

“The (bike) trail along the riverfront certainly serves a recreational need, and it can also be used for commuting, but it’s a little bit far off,” Setzler said. “The Penn Avenue bike lanes extend up to 16th and there was desire to connect those through the Strip District.”

He said plans call for a public plaza stretching from 20th and 21st streets.

“Plazas are meant to be flexible outdoor space,” he said. “It’s going to be a place for people to congregate, and we think it’s going to be a asset to adjacent businesses. Many of them are food-related businesses where someone might want to get some food and go out to the plaza.”

Angled, back-in parking, a rarity in Pittsburgh, will be available between 16th and 20th streets. Setzler said drivers won’t have back out into traffic with the angled parking. It can also accommodate more vehicles than traditional parallel parking, he said.

The city will also installed large “piano key” cross walks highly visible to drivers.

PWSA is nearly finished with its year long project to eliminate sewer and water lines running underneath the Produce Terminal and install new ones, including separate sanitary and storm sewers under the street. Pittsburgh is expected to start work on street improvements before year’s end.

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority board of directors two weeks ago gave final approval to Chicago-based McCaffery Interests’ plan for converting the landmark terminal into a restaurant, retail and office complex. The project includes three pedestrian walkways through the building, two of which at 17th and 18th streets will include public easements allowing pedestrians access to the Allegheny Riverfront.

The company also has plans to renovate a a former warehouse across the street from the terminal into ground floor shops and upper story offices with parking in the basement and an adjoining garage.

The two projects are estimated to cost about $100 million. Construction is scheduled to start next month.

Sketch by McCaffery Interests

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